October 30, 2014

Four questions that will help you stop catastrophizing


One of the common traits of anxious people is that they tend to catastrophize events in their lives. For example, I might be worried that something I said to a co-worker might be construed as unprofessional and that might lead to me having a bad reputation on the job which might lead to me not being promoted, or even fired. I don't necessarily have any evidence to back this up, but I just feel like it is true. That is catastrophizing.

I was working with a client named Kim (not her real name) recently. She rated her anxiety at work at about a 10 out of 10 - in other words very high. Kim had a run in with a co-worker that had resulted in her being called into the human resources office. Ever since that time, she was highly anxious and afraid of any interaction with her co-worker. She avoided this individual, and any possible conflict, at all costs. She felt deep shame about being reprimanded. This was a woman who had twenty years of exemplary service with the company, but this one blemish seemed to define her view of herself.

To help Kim learn to decrease her catastrophizing, I asked her a question, "What are you afraid will happen?" She replied, that she was afraid of getting into a conflict with her co-worker. I asked her to write that fear on a piece of paper. Then I asked her a second question, "If you get into a conflict, what will happen?" She said she might get angry. I had her write this down. To each of her responses, I asked her the same question, "If that happens, then what?"

Her responses looked something like this:
I will get into a conflict
I might get angry
I might cry or cuss
I will be embarrassed and or written up
I will get fired
I will lose my house
I will not be able to support my family
I will feel like a failure
I won't be able to face anyone

By writing out her thoughts, Kim was able to see why the possibility of getting into a conflict had such a paralyzing effect on her. When we got to the end of the list, I asked Kim a third question, "What do you think the chances are that these series of events will happen?" She indicated that she thought there was only a 10% chance it would actually go down that way. In other words, there was a 90% chance it would not happen. So I asked her a final question, can you live with those odds? Kim felt pretty good about her odds, and was able to feel her anxiety and catastrophizing diminish.

This technique can be really helpful if you find yourself catastrophizing. It is important to write down your thoughts. You already have enough noise in your head when you are anxious, you don't want to add any more to it. And there is something about seeing your thoughts written out that makes them so much clearer.

So, next time you start feeling anxious and catastrophizing, try asking yourself the following:
What are you worried about?
If that happens, then what?
What are the odds of that happening?
Can you live with that?

October 17, 2014

Movie Premier- America The Beautiful : The Sexualization of Our Youth

The premier of America The Beautiful is coming up on Wednesday, October 22nd at 7pm. The event is free and open to the public, but you do need to register here.

Below is the media release of the film if you would like to know more about it.

"Award-winning filmmaker Darryl Roberts takes an unflinching look at the insidious effects of our culture's preoccupation with sex in "America the Beautiful 3: The Sexualization of Our Youth" premiering this fall across the United States.  
"America the Beautiful 3: The Sexualization of Our Youth," is an important yet disconcerting film that both informs and warns viewers that our fixation with sex is adversely affecting our culture, leading to a public health crisis and even worse, the escalation of violence against women and children.    
*WARNING: This film includes scenes with graphic violence and pornographic imagery, which have the potential to trigger some viewers. Individuals with a history of sexual abuse, trauma or PTSD are advised not watch this film.  
Using interviews and storylines while weaving a personal narrative, Roberts deals with taboo topics, drawing his subjects out by being himself: curious, concerned and approachable. Roberts exposes the images and messages that desensitize our children to sex and the ultimate price our society pays through unlimited and uncensored access to sexually explicit material by increasingly younger audiences. 

Roberts covers topics including:
· How the Internet has made pornography affordable, accessible and anonymous

· How body image ideals and being "perfect" is shaped by the media

· The intensity of the baby and toddler pageant circuit

· One teenager's crusade re: Abercrombie & Fitch, and the surprising outcome of her efforts

· Aspiring actresses/models and what they will do to be famous

· How addiction to porn is changing expectations of sex for young men

· The mixed messages of safe sex versus abstinence

· Rape on college campuses: how universities have been ignoring the epidemic

· One in four women have been sexually assaulted, yet often little is done about it.

"The objectification of our youth creates such serious mental health issues and our desensitization to these issues, especially to violence towards women, may be impossible to reverse if we don't change how images are presented in the media and advertising. I want to shed light on these issues and bring organizations together to help eradicate the problem," Roberts said.

Monte Nido & Affiliates Eating Disorder Treatment Centers is the sponsor of the theatrical release and Carolyn Costin, founder/chief clinical officer, has partnered with Roberts on all three films: "Each documentary explores how our culture objectifies females and undermines their self esteem, leading to serious psychological and social consequences. His first film explored our culture's obsession with beauty, his second focused on our relentless pursuit of thinness, and now his third examines our fixation with sex. Darryl exposes how our cultural obsessions take an insidious toll on our health and well being," Costin said.

Costin's life's work has focused on how to help change the conversation about and our relationship to our bodies, to help people feel empowered rather than objectified or victimized by a culture that promotes image over substance resulting in body shaming: "The series is a wake-up call urging us to speak out and make changes in the things we have come to accept as unchangeable. There are many things we can do, and the young female heroine in "America the Beautiful 3" is evidence that we can turn adversity into activism," Costin said.

"America the Beautiful 3" premieres in cities across the country and includes local and national outreach campaigns in collaboration with public advocacy groups, universities and health organizations. A Q&A will follow each screening:

New York, NY ~ October 10
Los Angeles, CA ~ October 19
Dallas, TX ~ October 20
Houston, TX ~ October 22
East Lansing, MI ~ October 27
Chicago, IL ~ October 29
San Francisco, CA ~ November 3
Seattle, WA ~ November 6
Boston, MA ~ November 10
Philadelphia, PA ~ November 12
Atlanta, GA ~ November 17
Miami, FL ~ November 19

About Darryl Roberts: President of Harley Boy Entertainment. Roberts is a writer, producer, and director. Best known for his 2008 "America the Beautiful," documentary, Roberts received media attention from The Today Show, Good Morning America and CNN Headline News. 

Inspired by the people and events from his films, Roberts started the "Are You An Ally?" Anti-Bullying Campaign. The effort, spurred by work on the third film, was sponsored by Abercrombie & Fitch is now being extended to 10,000 high schools in October 2014 for National Anti-Bullying Month. 

About Carolyn Costin: Author, psychotherapist and founder and chief clinical officer of Monte Nido & Affiliates, Costin recovered from anorexia in the early 1970s and has specialized in treating body image disturbance and eating disorders since 1979. In 1996, Costin opened Monte Nido in Malibu, CA, the first-of-its-kind residential treatment facility. The success of this program led to four more residential facilities with a fifth to open in New York, October 6, 2014. Monte Nido also runs four day-treatment programs and two transitional living houses.

Monte Nido and Affiliates' programs are known as premier treatment facilities in the U.S. and abroad. Carolyn's books, The Eating Disorder Sourcebook, Your Dieting Daughter, 100 Questions and Answers About Eating Disorders and 8 Keys to Recovery From an Eating Disorder are highly acclaimed by professionals, sufferers and the public."

Thank you and please contact project manager Shannon Grosswiler (shannongrosswiler@montenido.com) for questions.
Note: Although we require a reservation on EventBrite, this movie is free and a "first come, first seated" event unless you contact Ms. Grosswiler for a block of pre-assigned seats. All seats will be released promptly at 7pm to additional guests.

We hope to see you at premieres. 

October 3, 2014

Work stressing you out? Find out why less is more.

Most of the people I work with in my practice have come in at some point with high levels of stress. They are experiencing the kind of stress that makes it hard to sleep at night, that causes them to have trouble focusing, or to feel agitated and short tempered with people they love. It is the kind of stress that makes them question what is wrong with their lives, but then feel too exhausted to do anything about it.

Many of them are drained by demanding jobs that they spend a lot of their waking hours thinking about. Often, they even take work home. These are smart, hardworking, successful people. But, they have had the joy sucked out of their lives by the time they come to see me. 

I talk with them about creating more balance in their lives. This means working less, and getting back to things in their personal lives that they value and that energize them. In general I recommend that they leave work by a designated time every night, and do not take work home. It sounds so simple, but the suggestion is usually met with surprise and fear. These folks have strong work ethics and they believe they have been successful in their lives because they have worked so hard. And besides, what will their boss say when they start leaving earlier or not answering e-mail right away? 

When things are not working in your life, try doing something differently. I challenge my clients to try setting boundaries at work for one week and see how it feels to them. It is wonderful to see them come back the following week. Often there is a lightness in their demeanor, and a smile on their faces. You can physically see their burden has been lightened. They are working fewer hours, but they have more energy which usually translated into working more efficiently. And it almost always translates into enjoying their lives more. 

If you are feeling stressed out, overworked, or overwhelmed, I recommend you review your life and see where you can start setting boundaries. Cut out things that are less essential. Add back things that you do to take care of yourself, and things that energize you. It may seem paradoxical, but by working fewer hours, you will often accomplish more and enjoy your life more. This is definitely one of those cases where less is more!

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