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Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

How to Stop Anxious Thoughts

posted by Linda Mintle

“I just feel anxious. I’m not thinking anything.”

Wrong, you have thoughts behind those anxious feelings. The feelings are so intense that you aren’t aware of the self-talk that precedes anxiety.

Negative self-talk is behind anxious feelings. Your thoughts impact your feelings. Your feelings affect your view of the world, and that view negatively affects your thoughts. This vicious cycle keeps anxiety going. In order to stop anxiety, you’ve got to learn to stop anxious thoughts.

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The work is to replace negative self-talk with positive talk.

Most anxious people think, “What if…”

Change the “What if…” to “So what,” and you’ll reduce anxiety.

Does this sound easy? It usually takes practice to break the habit of negativity. Anxious thoughts are automatic for people with anxiety problems. You feel anxious and are unaware of preceding thoughts. The first step is to identify your thoughts prior to an oncoming anxious feeling. The thought won’t always be obvious.

For example, Pat sat in a meeting with several of his superiors. He was nervous about his presentation and flashed back to a time early on in his career when he botched a presentation. These thoughts started running through Pat’s head, “What if I mess up again? I could get fired. I will embarrass myself.” The more Pat allowed these thoughts, the more anxious he became. By the time he stood up to give his presentation, he was close to panic.

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Had Pat used his self-talk in a positive way, he may have warded off anxiety. “I messed up early on in my career. I’m much more experienced. I have done these presentations many times with good outcomes. I have every reason to believe these people will like what I have to say and be impressed.”

Do you hear the difference in self-talk? The first creates or reinforces anxious feelings. The second example dismisses anxious thoughts and builds confidence. Self-talk is that powerful.

If your self-talk is has these themes, time to make changes:

…I should have, I have to…You are the classic perfectionist who always falls short of the job and worries about your failures.

…I can’t believe I did that, How stupid, What an idiot I am…You are far too critical of yourself and need to give yourself a break! You need a shot of self-esteem.

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…I can’t, I don’t have what it takes, I won’t be able to do it…You believe nothing will change and you can’t meet the challenge.

…What about…? You are the classic worrier. Nothing can happen without you bringing out all the possibilities for disaster or problems.

If you find yourself identifying with these statements, you need to change your thoughts. Write down positive statements that will counter the negative possibilities. For example, instead of thinking, “I can’t do that because it’s too scary,” say, “It looks scary but I can meet a new challenge. The worse possible thing that can happen is that I’ll feel scared for a moment and then it will pass. I will have accomplished something new.”

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After you’ve written down positive counter statements to your negative thoughts, practice saying the positive statements. Here’s one I give my kids when they tell me they can’t do something, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Is this all things? Yes, so you can do it.”

Next time you feel anxious, stop and ask, what was I thinking before I felt this way? Chances are it was a negative thought that needs changing.

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The Best Antidote for Stress? You Already Have It!

posted by Linda Mintle

If you could have one of the best antidotes for stress, would you take it? If I told you it is something that you can easily access and is free, would you want it? If I raved about how this one thing does everything, from decreasing the risk of heart attack, to stimulating the immune system, would you order it? Well, get ready, because it’s something you already have (At least I hope you have it.).

It’s humor! Now if you don’t have a sense of humor, get one. Read joke books, listen to comedy and learn to laugh at funny things. You are probably taking life too seriously and need to laugh at yourself and others at least once in awhile. Humor is a great stress reducer.  It is also a self-care tool that fosters a positive and hopeful attitude. Humor releases emotions and stimulates the immune system.

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Humor takes a stressful condition and turns it into a challenge. Studies at Cornell University found that people exposed to humor in the workplace were not only more creative problem-solvers, but they also could better see the consequences of their individual decisions. Humor defuses stress and makes it easier to look at a situation and do something about it. Humor is fun. It feels good to laugh and laughter does wonders for the physical body.

Now, I’m not suggesting you laugh off serious matters in your life. I don’t want you denying or avoiding problems. I’m simply saying that maintaining a sense of humor helps during serious times.

For example, my mother  called one night. She was lamenting the number of family and friends ill with serious conditions. Then she injected a humorous thought: “You know  why we have so many volunteers at the hospital (she used to volunteer)? It is because we never know who will be able to help and who will be in the beds.” We both started laughing. Humor is a release from the tension of the stress.

So, next time you feel stressed

  • Try to laugh (Even forcing a laugh reduces stress!).
  • Take a different perspective and try humor.
  • Rent a silly movie.
  • Tell a joke.
  • Tickle someone.
  • Play a crazy game.

You get the idea. Laughter may  just might make you a healthier you!

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How to Deal With a Wayward Child

posted by Linda Mintle

Q: We raised our daughter to love God. She grew up in a Christian home, made a commitment of salvation and was very involved in her youth group. When she left home for college, everything changed. She rebelled against every moral principle taught and has made poor choices that grieve our hearts. What can we do?

Dr Linda: My heart goes out to you. No parent enjoys watching a once strong godly teenager make poor choices that negatively affect her life. But the reality is that once young adults leave home, they are in charge of their choices. Some are better than others at resisting temptation and standing firm on their convictions.

The biblical directive in Proverbs 22:6 is, “Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This verse warns us that children must be brought under parental and spiritual control. In some cases, that discipline is lacking in God-loving homes. Parents take their children to church, teach them about God but fail to break their will and properly discipline. That is not the case in your situation.

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Other times, parents have been consistent disciplinarians, raise their child with a biblical view, and their child chooses a different way. In those cases, you pray that the godly foundation will eventually win out and the child will come back to his/her senses. Unfortunately that process can mean heartache for a time.

In other cases, family problems that were never addressed may be influencing your daughter. Families that don’t deal well with conflict and don’t get help when family conflict is out of control, produce adult kids unprepared to deal with conflict in their now adult lives. Unresolved family problems carry over to other relationships. For example, one young woman was sexually assaulted as a child. The family never dealt with the trauma and covered it up. Later, that daughter had major boyfriend problems that could be traced back to her childhood sexual assault.

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Also, remember every person has a free will and is ultimately responsible before God. Our role as parents is to insure we have done everything possible to shape our children for independent adult life. Take a quick inventory of your parenting: Were you consistent? Did you set godly examples? Did you break your child’s will at a young age? Did you give in too often? Did you address family dysfunction?

Finally, keep in mind that many emerging adults struggle with making their faith their own. They need a personal encounter with the Lord even when they have been raised in a Christian home. Pray to that end–if Christ can show up to Muslims who don’t know Him, He can encounter your daughter in a life changing way. Hold on to that hope and pray to that end.

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Obviously parents can’t go back and redo inconsistent parenting, but they can admit failure,  talk to their adult children and ask for forgiveness if necessary. You can also talk about foundational principles that bring a happy life. Be honest when reacting to your daughter’s poor choices. Point out the negative consequences that will result from ungodly living. Deal with family problems now. Love her unconditionally but not her sinful behavior or lifestyle.

Above all, pray. Prayer is powerful. The Holy Spirit can remind her of her childhood learning and bring others into her life who will positively influence her. Get support from other parents who will agree to pray with you. She may go through difficulty, but don’t give up on God’s best for her life. Continue to pray and intercede.

 

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Lady GaGa Pushes the Envelope Yet Again

posted by Linda Mintle

Lady GaGa is such a mixed bag. She is talented singer, but so disturbing at times. And this is one of those times.

One moment she is helping children stand up to bullying, the next she is smoking marihuana on stage at her concert in Amsterdam!

And her latest antic is all over You Tube and the Internet. Now, teens can watch one the biggest music stars glorify pot smoking and actually engage in the behavior in a public forum. With impunity, she lit up on stage and talked about her love for weed to an audience of screaming teens.

How irresponsible! Yes, you can smoke marihuana in Amsterdam legally, but that is hardly the point. You can also drink yourself into a stuper legally, but that doesn’t mean you should.

Great role model for those kids trying not to be victims. Last time I looked, drug use is not a path to success for teens! And for most kids who will emulate her love for weed now, they won’t be affording the expensive drug programs to get them functioning again once the addiction takes hold. But GaGa, with all her money, can simple go to celebrity rehab if she gets in trouble. And more disturbing, this from a woman who overcame an addiction to cocaine before she reached her current fame.

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I had hoped she would be different in terms of the usual rock star who drinks herself into oblivion and gets high to be “inspired” or check out of reality. It appears not. She is taking the predictable path. Next thing you know, we will have a behind the music show documenting her road to darkness and attempt to climb back.

Do you think this is just another desperate move to stay in the spotlight and be relevant? How far will she go to be outrageous?  And how sad  considering her immense following and actual talent. I’m afraid we are about to watch another pop star implode. Some people would argue  that this is only another pop star indulging her every wish, allowing money to make her reckless and doing anything to get attention.

But Lady GaGa is  a woman who could lead a generation another way and be a positive influence. She has moments of goodness but this overshadows her light.

 

 

 

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