the healing journey counseling fl

healing, anxiety, loss, grief, depression, ptsd, self-care, suicide prevention, post partum depression

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Keeping Cool With Your Defiant Child

It’s barely 11 am and my son lost his temper again. He is easily annoyed, bossy and frustrated by other people. He tends to blame others for his difficulties and makes so many excuses. They are drawn toward negative peers and tend to be more sulky. Parents generally respond to these behaviors by negotiating, bargaining, giving in, screaming and threatening. Here are 5 ways to survive a defiant child.

  1. Don’t Lose Control – Remember to be calm, clear and firm with the situation.

  2. Don’t Focus On Who is Responsible –  Parents are responsible for how they react to their children. For instance, a toddler may have an outburst which causes you to react. First, realize that the issue at hand is not to yell and scream. It’s up to you to decide how to handle this. At times parents are overwhelmed with stress and frustration, but please remember that this too shall pass.  Defiant toddlers are still developing and its not their intention to cause trouble.

3.  Pay Attention To The Positive –  When your child does something right, acknowledge it!

4. Don’t Assume The Worst – This hits home for me! As a parent, we are overwhelm with the challenges throughout the day that drives us crazy. The first task is to realize that your child is going through something and his or her intentions are good. We tend to set up ourselves when we look at the negative side of things.

5. Set Limits For Your Defiant Child –  Carefully pick your battle with your child which may include not arguing with your child.  For instance, when going to the mall with your child know what to do when he acts out in the car. Have a plan in place that you will use if he thrown a tantrum.  In addition, make sure to follow through with your plan until your child realizes that he will not get away with his behavior.

Parents needs a lot of determination and strength while working with their children.  You may have a child who is defiant, but is peaceful at home. The main point is to decide: Are you going to change the world for your child? or Are you going to teach him or her how to cope with it?  How have you dealt with YOUR defiant child?

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Processing Emotions

It is clear that many people have a hard time controlling their emotions which can lead to a variety of issues. However, we can learn how to handle them by understanding what is going on inside your brain that makes you explode.

How the Brain Operates

Let’s start out by addressing the left brain and right brain, which according to Dr Alan Schore (2003a)  ” the left brain is responsible for thinking ,while the right especially the frontal stores our emotions” (Siegel, 2010, p. 19). No wonder we have so much headache! When we explode, the amygdala is activated which starts a series of events. Our emotions begin to increase and it takes some time for your brain to determine the best plan of action. Our left brain which is basically our reasoning is bypassed and rest is history.

Thinking and Feeling

They are people who cope well and those who definitely cannot and lose it! The difference between both is the “stronger the circuits that connects left and right brain, the better able you are to tolerate and diffuse intense emotions (D.J. Siegel 1999) ( Siegel, 2010, p. 19).  When someone pushes our button, we can’t focus on new information or communicate in an effective way. When we are stress and the right brain takes the lead, we can’t focus on anything. But, when we calm down, we are better able to listen whereas earlier we couldn’t.  When both the right and left brain is connected, the better we are able to “stay with an emotional experience, reflect on it, and ultimately respond in ways that are productive for everyone involved” (Siegel, 2010, p.19).

Emotions or Feelings

Anger is an emotion that we may experience on a daily basis, such as children refusing to listen;  a car tries to cut you off etc. The emotion that you experience for each situation is different and there may be times when you cannot stand when others making stupid mistakes, which often leads to anger; “below the surface, this creates feelings of resentment, envy, worthlessness, and lack of control” (Siegel, 2010,p. 20).


It takes a long time for anyone to recognize self-awareness due to some recognizing our responses, such as being sad and crying. While on the other side, there are some people who can disconnect ‘from feeling-state awareness and instead only register the facts.” (Siegel, 2010, p. 21). I have a hard time disconnecting from my feelings because I generally access all of my feelings. On the other hand, those who disconnect “can tell you what they think, but not what they feel” (Siegel, 2010, p. 21). What an insight! At times we may regret what was said,  but if we could recognize it, give it a name and go over the consequences our life would be much easier.

Processing Emotions

It takes time to understand how to manage our feelings and emotions and we may get information from books to help with our emotions. But, how many of us really remember what to do?  As a parent, we tend to respond to our children’s emotional distress by soothing them or some parents ignore it. When a parent helps the child during distress, this helps them later on in  life because when children feel protected and “joined in the process of resolving a problem that help create a sense of trust and safety” (Siegel, 2010, p. 23). It is important that parents soothe their children because if we don’t this will makes it harder for the child who may be experiencing some anxiety.


Now here is a daring title! When we shut down this can work against us in the long run. For instance, Terry is a person who repressed her emotion while Bill tends to lash out. When Terry learned about her boyfriend’s Bill infidelity, she became anxious and shuts down because she doesn’t want to deal with her feelings. When you shut down it leads to a variety of feelings and you believe that you are in control. However, when we do not deal with our feelings, this impedes our life. One way of dealing with our feelings is to get to know yourself and try to understand someone else’s feelings which I agree take a lot out of you. Every time you address those feelings, “you are developing new circuits between the left and right parts of the brain” (Siegel, 2010, p. 26). How does this help you? We are not all created equally, but we must learn to face emotions. Our first reaction may be to run away, but we must deal with the emotions by giving it a name that activates the left-brain-right-brain circuits. It may be uncomfortable at first to experience your emotions, but with practice you will feel much better about yourself.

Siegel (2010) provided a list of feelings that will help you to address your emotions which includes the following:

When you feel angry, then you may be feeling…

  • afraid                            aggravated
  • agitated                        annoyed
  • appalled                        betrayed
  • bitter                              cranky
  • disappointed                 disgusted
  • exasperated                  frustrated
  • helpless                         hostile
  • irritated                          jealous
  • let down                        nervous
  • offended                        pessimistic
  • provoked                       repulsed
  • riled                               tense
  • vicious

When you feel happy, you may feel….

  • accomplished                                 amused
  • charmed                                          cheerful
  • delighted                                         elated
  • enthusiastic                                     excited
  • glad                                                  joyful
  • peppy                                               proud
  • validated

When you are content, you may feel…

  • appreciative                                   calm
  • fortunate                                         reflective
  • relaxed                                           soothed

When you feel hurt, you may feel….

  • cheated                                        defeated
  • deprived                                       deserted
  • diminished                                   forgotten
  • insulted                                        isolated
  • lonely                                           neglected
  • persecuted                                  slighted
  • snubbed                                      upset

When you feel inadequate, you may feel….

  • diminished                                helpless
  • incompetent                              inferior
  • pessimistic                                powerless
  • useless

We must also realize that our brain connects with our emotions and feelings, so the next time you feel that emotion, recognize it and give it a name and process it. Can you remember every experiencing being “lonely”? Dr. Beth Jacobs (2004) suggest ed that we get should journal and start writing so that you can learn more about different feelings. Another exercise that Dr. Jacobs recommended is to become aware of your feelings and take a different approach when faced with it. This is the first step to learn more about yourself and your emotions which will take time. So don’t be so hard on you!  In both exercise you will learn how to relax so enjoy it.

Develop Mind-body Awareness

Finally, developing mind-body awareness is one of the best ways I was taught as an intern. Most of us do not even recognize how we feel in our own body. It may be a surprise to you when you begin to examine the way how your stomach feels or just looking at the way how your fingers are clenched. The goal is to begin to explore both the physical and emotional responses which will alert you during an impending episode. I know that this is a challenge for anyone; however, “t is important to your overall emotional well-being” (Siegel, 2010, p. 31).

The following are exercises that you can apply so that you can learn more about your body.

Exercise 1: Body Scan

Scan your body from a point where you are not disturbed by others and you may want to close your eyes in order to feel the full effective of this exercise. Ask yourself if you are carrying any feelings. Do you feel tense? Is your heart beating rapidly? Are your fingers clenched or open? How does it feel in your stomach? Additionally, you can also go back to the list of feelings above and choose one that you can learn more about. Now complete a body scan and ask yourself the questions in the previous sentences. How does your body feel during this emotion? Think about the tension in the different parts of your body which will help you to understand more about your body and how it reacts. Allow yourself to work through these exercises that will help you to process your emotions.


Siege,J.P. (2010).  Stop Overreacting. Effective strategies for calming your emotions.New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

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Stop Overreacting


Effective strategies for calming your emotions

Understanding overreactions- We must be aware of the things that triggers our emotions for instance we may overreact to situation that is fueled by past experiences and raw emotions which we have not dealt with yet.  I completely understand how we can get so worked up about something and we must acknowledge our emotions that cause us to overeact and gets us in trouble. Not everyone reacts the same way which is something that I had to learn during the course of my life. Each of us as a different range of emotional equilibrium that is known as “the degree to which we can mange stressful experience in a calm and thoughtful way” (Siegel, 2010,p. 9).

The Exploder and the Imploder

When I saw this title I could relate to the imploder which is the quiet person who puts their feelings aside while the exploder gets very upset and loud. Exploder has a hard time holding on to their feelings and are easily agitated. For instance, a child whose feelings are not noticed by teachers and parents which leads depression or becoming ill. There are three ingredients to overreacting that includes “the event that triggers a sense of danger, an immediate response that involves our emotions as well as our physical state, and an interpretation of unfolding events that may be colored by defenses and emotional memories” (Siegel, 2010, p. 12). The way how we view a situations has an effect on our psychological well-being which has an effect on the way we view a situation.

In order to manage our reactions we must first be aware of the way how we tend to react. Here are some questions to help you with this exercise:

  • When someone gets very angry at your, do you tend to withdraw?
  • Would people who know you describe you as someone who is mainly logical?
  • When the stress in your life builds up, are you likely to feel fatigued or ill?
  • When someone asks you how you are feeling,  do you give them information about events or description of your emotional experience?
  • Do you often zone out or have an escape fantasies?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you are an imploder style. However, here are some other questions for a exploder style:

  • Do you frequently lose your temper or fight about an issue that seems important in the moment but that you barely remember a few weeks later?
  • Do you speak your mind if you think someone has acted inappropriately?
  • When someone challenges you, do you get annoyed and stand up to them?
  • When another car cuts you off in traffic, do you try to catch up to them or start swearing?
  • Do people tell you that you are too emotional?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you are a exploder style.

The following is a body scan exercise that will help you to become aware of your feelings. First, start from a relaxed position, close your eyes and focus on the different parts of your body. Ask yourself is you are aware of carrying any tension in your body. Is your heart racing? Do  your muscles feel tense? How about your neck is it tight?Are your hands relaxed? Are your fingers open or clenched? What does it feel like in your stomach? When you know how your body is when you are relaxed, you will begin to notice  how you change when you are under stress. Secondly, we must explore one of the feelings such as being angry and try to learn more about it. We can look back at how we felt when we were angry  and begin to do a body scan by asking yourselves all the questions in the first part of  this exercise. Think about the tension that you are carrying to different parts of your body, If you are uncomfortable, where do you notice this most? If you feel better, do you notice it in any part of your body? By noticing the different sensations throughout the body you are beginning the grasp a whole new way of exploring your feelings. Thirdly, we can now begin to try a guided exercise where you revisit how you feel when you experience something good. By learning how we felt during that experience we can call it up during the times that we are feeling angry or upset. If you open up yourselves to positive feelings, “you will add to your reservoir of well being” (Forsha, 2000).




Siegel, J. (2010). Stop Overreacting. Effective strategies for calming your emotions. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.


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Out of darkness walk less than 2 weeks


Once again the time has come to walk for suicide prevention which is less than two weeks away. There are thousand of walkers throughout the United States that participate in the Out of Darkness Walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Last month the American Psychological Association published an article titled ” Trauma Before Enlistment linked to High Suicide rates  among Military Personnel, Veterans, Research Finds” which basically reminds us that if anyone has any traumatic experiences  in the past this will make them more vulnerable to suicidal behavior when coping with many deployment and combat ( Bowen, APA Public Affairs, 2014). Suicide is the second leading  cause of death among service members. Service members reported abuse as children who are more likely to attempt suicide. According to the research gathered in 2010 from 12,567  Army National Guard soldiers found “that 16 percent of the respondents reported harsh punishment during childhood and 8 percent reported physical abuse” which were similar to the active duty Army soldiers ( Bowen, APA Public Affairs, 2014).  Sexual trauma is another way of increasing suicidal behavior in women which is reported; however, male survivors of sexual trauma are least likely to seek mental health care. We must be proactive and get the word out to prevent suicide prevention. Please donate for the Out of Darkness Walk Community Walk through the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention. In addition, please consider becoming an Field advocate of the AFSP.