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5 Ways to Achieve Mindfulness

DSC01281Mindfulness, what is it and why is it needed? Mindfulness pops up in media right now as though this mindfulness thing has validity. Mindfulness, simply stated, focuses on the present. Being present in the here and now allows one to be fully aware and on purpose. Daydreaming, jumping from one thing to another, looking ahead to the next thing all exemplify what mindfulness is not. A society of hurry up and wait, such as ours, keeps us vigilant about the next move.

Mindfulness allows the rational mind to think through things clearly and logically. Making good decisions happens when mindfulness occurs. Mindfulness keeps the emotional mind subdued because mindfulness allows you to look at things objectively without judging. Mindfulness helps you keep on task and do one thing at a time which keeps you from getting overwhelmed.

Living your life on purpose with increased awareness results from practicing mindfulness. Achieving mindfulness isn’t difficult but it does take practice. Anything new out of the normal, familiar way of doing things will feel difficult and uncomfortable at first. However, the outcome of mindfulness will give you a sense of managing your life like never before.

Five keys to achieve mindfulness start with the decision to live life on purpose. Mindfulness brings your entire self to the present moment. Remember the last time you enjoyed yourself? Think about how focused you were on what was happening. What would it be like to enjoy yourself like that all the time? Achieving mindfulness begins with noticing what you are feeling and what you are thinking as though someone else is doing the thinking and feeling.

  1. Breathe – notice what is going on in your body. Is there a place in your body that you can feel the emotion you are having? It may be your shoulders, neck, chest, head, or hands. Identify that place and determine how the emotion and where it’s at in your body are connected. Breathe into that place. In other words, once you have identified the emotion and the place in your body that you feel it, breathe into that place by taking a breath all the way down to the abdominal area.
  2. Notice what you are thinking about. Notice what you want to do when thinking about it. If you are angry, you may want to scream or punch something. Your anger may not be that intense. You may just want to give someone a piece of your mind. You may be sad which could evoke an emotional response of crying. The main thing to do is notice your thoughts.
  3. The next step is to describe what you notice. For example, “My friend is being so unfair when she tells me what I ought to do. I will just find another friend. She makes me so mad.” Then take out the judgment and just state it objectively. “I feel anger.” Just stating what you feel takes the judgment out.
  4. Give your full attention to what you are doing. When you breathe, notice how you are breathing. Are you breathing deeply and practicing a relaxation breath? When you are noticing and describing what you are experiencing, give your full attention to it. Be present and aware of each step you take.
  5. Only do one thing at a time. In this day of glorifying multi-tasking, doing one thing at a time seems contrary to being able to manage multiple tasks or projects. However, focusing on one thing at a time will be far more efficient and satisfying.

Practicing mindfulness brings a sense of controlling or managing your life. You are being intentional and purposeful about what you are doing. You will find success and satisfaction as you master the practice of mindfulness.

Breakthrough Counseling can help you get started and follow through with mindfulness to change those mundane, stressful patterns well established in your life. Call us today at 918-286-3278.

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Crisis or Drama

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Daily lives can bring ups and downs. When there are ups and downs there may be crisis moments. These moments may be drama instead of crisis. How do you know which is which and what do you do about either of them?

First, the test to determine which is which: 

Drama

  1. It’s drama when there is no threatening condition such as a life being endangered.
  2. Drama, by its nature is emotional. Emotions do not constitute crisis although the person with the emotions may try to convince themselves and others differently. “I’ll die if …. doesn’t happen.” “I cannot live without……”
  3. Drama requires an audience.
  4. Drama purposely involves as many people as possible much of the time in the form of gossip or retelling the situation over and over to whoever will listen.
  5. Drama is about the person at the center of the drama.
  6. Drama resists solutions.

Drama does not respond well to therapy simply because drama is a choice, not a crisis. Drama involves emotions over reasoning and will not resolve with therapy unless someone decides the drama is out of control and has started to create undesirable outcomes on a regular basis. At that point, counseling can and will help.

Crisis

  1. Crisis can be a life or death circumstance at hand.
  2. Crisis can involve a relationship where one perceives a real threat.
  3. Crisis only requires one person.
  4. Crisis can resolve with solutions and those in crisis want solutions.
  5. Crisis may be about helping another person.
  6. Crisis will resolve one way or the other and isn’t ongoing.

If you have a crisis, seek immediate help. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if the crisis is life threatening. The sooner the resolution, the better off the person in crisis will be. This sounds simplistic but many try to resolve a crisis without the appropriate tools. Inappropriate resolutions can lead to a bigger crisis. Crises should not persist because it causes a physical toll on the body and brain. Crises need to be resolved and resolved with the amount of closure that is possible which means it becomes manageable.

If crisis or drama seems to be a big part of your life, it’s time to improve the quality of your life. Counseling or coaching tends to help resolve the majority of issues. Some believe counseling would mean one is “crazy” or mentally ill and shy away from seeking counseling help. Coaching or consultation can make all the difference in how life quality improves. Coaching and consulting are not reimbursable by insurance. Either way, Breakthrough Counseling (and Coaching) is here to help. We will be happy to accommodate your preference for the assistance you seek. Today is the day to begin a quality of life to sustain you as you move forward toward a better future. Ask us about our payment plan options. 918-286-3278.

Get Ready, Here Comes the Schedule

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Summer is more than half way over. Schools start so early anymore that it’s only about 3 weeks until some schools begin the fall semester. Now comes the transition of a loose summer schedule to a more stringent, rigorous school schedule. Being proactive about how that will happen will give the best outcome for a great transition.

Here are seven ideas to ensure a smooth transition into the school schedule.

  1. Begin now in setting an earlier bedtime. You can start with 30 minute increments (if the bedtime hour changed over the summer) till you get to the preferred time. Remember a good rule of thumb for ages 5-8 is 7:30 or 8, 9-13 8:30-9:00, 13-15 10:00; 16+ 10:30. Even for the older students getting the ideal bedtime of 10:30 into their schedule will help them in many ways to kick off a successful school year.
  2. Begin today with the breakfast routine. If you start a routine that can be maintained through the school year, getting started now makes it easy after the school hours begin. Even if you have to start with 30 minute increments until the actual time required for school, begin now and work toward that time. So if your child is used to getting up at 10:30 am, start serving breakfast or getting them up to eat breakfast at 10 for a couple of days, 9:30 for a couple of days, and so forth till the preferred time has been reached.
  3. A great routine to start is to choose clothing the night before. Even though they will be selecting their summer clothing, get the routine started now. If you are working with very young children choose two outfits for them to choose from. Too many choices will not help a child to gain independence or a good sense of style-it’s only confusing and leads to poor choices.
  4. Electronics are a permanent part of life. Children (and particularly teens) need to have a sense of boundaries and secure guidelines. This gives them confidence that parents are looking out for them (no matter how loudly they protest!). An electronic storage container would be a great way to secure them overnight. Everyone will know where they are in the morning. Taking up the electronics in the evening or at bedtime are two ideas that will benefit the entire family. (A whole other article on electronics will be written in the future).
  5. Personal hygiene habits may have changed over the summer as well. Starting the habit of bathing daily before school starts will ensure that this is routine after school starts and much less of a hassle in making it happen. For young children having a fairly consistent schedule will make the routine much easier to establish. If the schedule is hit or miss it is too easy to let things go and get out of a routine which then negates the concept of the routine and getting the shower or bath accomplished.
  6. Establish the time for homework to be completed. Write the time on a visible calendar so everyone will get used to the idea that homework will need to happen at this time in order to ensure it will get completed. Sports and extracurricular activities need to be considered when determining a homework schedule but it needs to be there or the homework will fall by the wayside as well as an established time to study for tests or prepare projects.
  7. Dinner or family time needs to become a priority again. Establishing the family time tells children they are important. Family time gives children an opportunity to relate and connect with what needs to be the primary influence in their lives. Passing along traditions, stories, family heritage has been lost in the fast paced world of activities, electronics, and the influence of peers. Family needs to be a child’s home base. Even if you can only establish 2 or 3 evening meals a week together, it’s a great start.

Routine helps everyone with establishing stability. The world has enough instability in it without the family emulating the world at home. Establish sacred time together, peacefulness to come home to out of the chaos, routine to give relief from unexpected events, security that says “I have a safe and secure place where people love me and accept me for who I am.”

As always, if chaos continues to rule in your household with little to no relief counseling, coaching, or family therapy are all good options to help make the needed tweaks to regain the ability to manage what’s happening. Getting started quickly with assistance in managing family chaos will prevent anxiety, depression, difficult back-to-school transitions, and general dysfunction.  If school was difficult last year don’t wait to get therapy started. The child will go into the school year with imprinted expectations of another difficult year.

Breakthrough Counseling is here to assist you. Mr. John Miller, LPC has recently joined Breakthrough Counseling and is passionate about families and children having quality of life. Call us today and ask for your appointment with John, 918-286-3278.

6 Questions That Will Determine The Health of Your Marriage?

Healthy Marriage Picture

Relationships they can be a real challenge. Today it seems that relationships are disposable, even marriage relationships seem to be tossed aside for something that may appear to be a better relationship. Anyone out there tired of moving in and out of relationships? It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

What if you knew there was a way to stop the madness and get on track for a better way of relating to others, even significant others in your life?

Here are few questions that may help you realize if your relationship could be improved.

  1. Does it feel like your opinion is ignored?
  2. Does it feel like you can’t even have a conversation without an argument?
  3. Does it feel as though the decisions made in the relationship rarely reflect what you want?
  4. Does anger appear to dominate much of the communication in your relationship?
  5. Does it feel like you can’t say anything without setting your partner off?
  6. Do you find yourself apologizing a lot to keep the peace?

These are just a few questions that if answered yes indicate some red flags in relationship skills. What if there was a way to resolve some of these issues and have a better relationship at work, home, socially?

If your opinion is ignored, that is typically because you are not being heard. You can easily ask them to restate what you just told them so you can know if they understand you. That will let you know where the communication breakdown may be happening.

Arguments need not happen just because two people disagree about something. If it feels like the disagreements are more like arguments than just having conversation and talking things out, attempt to step back from the conversation and determine where the disagreement begins. You may be engaging in a right/wrong battle. If someone needs to be right then each time there is a disagreement it will likely be an argument.

When decisions need to happen do you believe the discussion is one that considers all ideas? If you feel your ideas are ignored or vetoed in most decision making times you may want to consider the quality of communication first. This goes back to the first idea of finding out what the other person heard you say. There are times when decision making can be one or the other person and not a compromise of two ideas. When submitting to the other person’s idea, it is good to have that conversation if it is something that is affecting how you feel. In other words, I really don’t like that decision but I will go along it. I just need to understand about the resistance to my input in making the decision. It’s all about discussing and getting to the real issue.

A person angers easily when they are under a lot of stress or have many unresolved issues. Many times this is the reason someone may get “set off” by a seemingly innocuous comment. As long as the comment wasn’t made to purposely incite, there is something much deeper than it being a problem with the person making the comment. 

If you find yourself apologizing often because the other person gets upset from a conversation, it’s time to discover the reason behind having to apologize. There are a number of reasons this could be happening but the first thing to do is to realize what is happening and realize that it isn’t solving anything by apologizing. If you find yourself saying, “I’m sorry” and it ends the issue but you are still upset, then the apology is only delaying something down the road.

High conflict relationships respond well to therapy. Couples who have worked with the counselors and coaches at Breakthrough find themselves able to resolve conflict and begin enjoying life. Letting one more day go by is one day too many. Just getting some coaching will help create a better environment for you and your partner or friend.

Breakthrough Counseling offers coaching for marriages and relationships. Let us help with your coaching needs in setting your relationship on a successful course. Call us today at Breakthrough Counseling. Dr. Dan Stockley, Julie Kline, Linda Kats, and Dr. Joseph Schwartz are here to help. Give us a call today at 918-286-3278.