Inspiring Words

Here I am sharing some thoughts from my experiences in my clinical and forensic practice, as well as through my role as a mother of three children, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.

One Simple Way to Improve a Relationship

There is one very simple thing that you can do today to improve a relationship. Improve a relationship with your spouse, with your child, with a friend. It’s so simple, that it is often overlooked. Ready? Show appreciation.

Yes, your daughter is SUPPOSED to do her homework. Yes, your husband is SUPPOSED to take out the trash. Yes, your son is SUPPOSED to put away his laundry. Being thanked and shown appreciation, even for the expected, can help strengthen a relationship.

Appreciation and gratitude go a long way. Not only does it create a positive feeling in the moment, but it helps to nurture a relationship. It serves as a buffer in times of conflict by creating a sense of closeness and deeper connection. We behave our best and treat people nicely when we feel an emotional connection with them. Expressing gratitude for the person or the relationship can help foster that connection. For this very reason, I start off every MotherDaughter Connection session with an exercise in gratitude. Mothers and daughters privately tell each one thing that they are grateful for in the other person or within their relationship.

Test it out today. What might you take for granted and not express thanks for? What small act can you express appreciation and thanks for today within your family? What quality do you appreciate about your partner or child? Take a moment to think about it, and then make a point to express it.

“The Hug Jar”

As your child becomes a tween/teen, there is less physical affection than the preschool years! Your daughter may not be eagerly holding your hand like she did when she was four years old. Your son may not want to cuddle like he enjoyed when he was younger. Your child is not sitting on your lap, and you no longer have a person attached to your hip! This is all part of normal development. However, as humans, we still have a need for physical affection with our loved ones. Physical affection provides a connection, and this can be particularly useful when the words are not there. There may be times when your teen/tween comes home from school, seems upset, and does not want to talk about it. There may be times when you want to express your love for your child, but the words do not come easily. These are times when physical affection can go a long way. Yet as children get older, they become less comfortable asking for the physical affection from parents that can be so comforting. And parents need the affection too!

We all need physical affection in varying degrees, and sometimes it is hard for both children and adults to ask for it. Making and using a “Hug Jar” can make it fun. Here are some suggestions to write down on a piece of paper and put into a “hug jar”. Make a point to pull one out a day.

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Mindfulness Exercises for Teens and Tweens (and adults too)!

There is good reason that you may have been hearing more about mindfulness lately. People have been practicing mindfulness for years, and the mental health benefits of mindfulness for addressing stress, anxiety, depression, anger, and frustration are becoming more well-known. In addition to addressing troubling emotions, practicing mindfulness increases overall life satisfaction and fosters a sense of peace.

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Advice Regarding Resolutions and Goals

It is that time of year when you might be thinking about your resolutions, devising ways of improving your life during the upcoming year and beyond. Before creating and tackling your resolutions, love yourself for exactly who you are now. Appreciate exactly where you are in your life now. Look back on how far you have come! With increased self-love and appreciation, you will have more success in achieving your goals in the future. And don’t forget to celebrate all of your accomplishments along the way. The journey to your goal is just as rewarding and fulfilling as achieving the goal.

12 Major Types of Cognitive Distortions That Can Affect Mood and Behavior

In my work with my clients, I often use cognitive behavioral therapy. The basic idea behind cognitive behavioral therapy is that our thoughts influence our feelings, and that our feelings influence our behavior. In order to address feelings and/or behavior that we want to change, we often have to start with our thoughts. There are several different maladaptive thought patterns (“cognitive distortions”) that contribute to unwanted feelings and behavior. Here is a list of 12 common ones that can zap your happiness and life satisfaction. Recognizing and becoming more aware of the thought patterns we tend to use begins the process of changing them and replacing them with more positive and realistic thinking.  Within each example, I provide an example of a cognitive distortion, as well as “The Fix” – a more realistic and/or positive thought.

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Ten Ideas to Make the Most of Family Dinners

Family dinners are so important. Yet in today’s busy families, family members are sitting down to eat dinner together less and less often. Studies have demonstrated a correlation between family dinners and mental and physical health in children, improved social skills, improved grades, and the avoidance of engaging in teen risky behavior, including substance use. Here are some suggestions to make the most out of family dinner time.

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