Monday, May 17, 2010

Makeover Report

Emotional well being is often stuck on the back burner. Whether it's because of the stigmas associated with emotional health, the cost of therapy or the comfort of complacency, many of us are hesitant to ask for - or even admit that we need - help.

J-WHO decided to face this issue head on. Last week’s event, “A Makeover for Your Mind” laid to rest many of the common misconceptions associated with our emotional health. Rather than ignoring the emotional issues that we all have, we learned to recognize their sources and methods we can use to help ourselves.

Sarede Switzer spoke of the many benefits to our emotional state that are associated with physical exercise. She told of the complex hormones that are released into our blood stream during physical activity. These are the same chemicals that drug companies are trying to mimic with their production of mood stabilizing medications.

Sarede explained the changes we experience at birth are the very elements that we constantly struggle with. At birth we are faced with two primary forces: independent breathing and gravity. In utero, we draw oxygen through the umbilical cord. At birth we need to start breathing on our own. As adults, most of us breathe in a shallow way that does not allow us to absorb the ideal amount of oxygen. In utero, we float. At birth we need to find gravity, the balance between stability and mobility.

Sarede gave some tips and demonstrations for better inhalation and ideal body usage. You can view Sarede’s information-filled handout here.

Craig Podell really liked our topic – ‘a makeover for your mind’. He encouraged us to make-over how we think of ourselves. Craig spoke about the meaning of self esteem. To esteem is to value. Self esteem is valuing ourselves. He shared how a healthy dose of narcissism is necessary for healthy self esteem. People with low self esteem struggle with accepting love from others because they have trouble loving themselves. They tend to doubt compliments they receive or kindnesses offered. They seek validation from external sources. They don’t believe in themselves. Negative thoughts about themselves or others tend to cloud their vision and this negativity spreads into their daily lives.

How to break the cycle? The first things is to recognize the impact of our thoughts on feelings, behaviors, and self esteem. Once we accept that, we can work on stopping negative thoughts in their tracks. Craig shared the red-light technique. The first time a driver has an accident for taking a red light is likely to be the last time he doesn’t stop . We need to treat our negative thoughts like red lights. We need to stop as we them coming.

To over-simplify, this is a 3 step process.
Stop – when you realize a negative thought is coming or has come.
Identify – where that thought is taking you.
Choose – another option of where you want to take that thought.

This might sound simple, but it takes lots of practice. The more we practice changing how we think, the easier it becomes. Eventually it can become the default method of thinking.

A member of our audience shared how changing her thoughts helped change her outcome. This young woman had tried and failed at two driving tests. She was very upset about this and told her husband that she was never going to try again. He asked why she thought she had failed and she said that the DMV examiner was “out to get me”. Her husband encouraged her to believe that the examiner was there to help her. She tried again, incorporating this new mode of thinking. She told herself that the examiner was there to help her get her license. She passed that test and got a round of applause from us all.

Craig ended his presentation with a visualization exercise. In a room full of people, he helped us each, individually, visit our own safe and peaceful place. Personally, I enjoyed the sandy beach, the warmth of the sun on my skin and the sounds of the crashing waves. It was a most peaceful way to end a busy day. When the going gets tough, I hope to incorporate some visualization techniques.

Craig Podell LCSW, is available for private consultations. He can be reached at 718 258-1185.

Thanks again to our generous sponsors: The Printhouse, PCL Design, Mr. Greens, Apple Drugs, & The Wellsprings Center.

Do you have a service or product that you can share with J-WHO? Leave a comment or drop me an email – we’d love to hear from you.

To good health,


p.s. Craig recommended some books for further self education. I'm sure you can request them at the library, but I've linked them to Amazon for your convenience.

 Anxiety Disorders and Phobias by Beck, A. T., G Emery, and R. Greenberg

Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life by McKay, Mathew et al.
The Personal Workbook for Breaking the Chain of Low Self Esteem: A Proven Program of Recovery by Sorenson, Marilyn J.

Women & Self Esteem: Understanding and Improving the Way We Think and Feel About Ourselves by Tschirhart, Sanford & Donovan, Ellen

Highly Recommended:
Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem by McKay, Mathew & Fanning, Patrick

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