Monday, January 18, 2016

Disconnect to Reconnect

I've been observing another faculty member this semester and have left each class feeling inspired. This past week, we discussed attachment theory.

In a nutshell, attachment theory describes the emotional bonds felt between people. It can be broken into different categories, but the most often described are 1) Secure 2) Anxious 3) Avoidant and 4) Ambivalent.

If you're curious what you are, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I loveable?
2. Can I trust you?

Secure attachment: Yes, I am loveable. Yes I trust you. This is the ultimate goal.

Avoidant attachment: Yes, I am loveable. No, I can't trust you. I would say these are more likely to be the kind that are video gaming, numbing out, drugs, always connected to a device. The underfunctioners. Fear immobilizes them.

Anxious attachment: No, I'm not loveable. Yes, I can trust you. These are the people who believe they can only be loved once they achieve/perform. The overfunctioners.

Ambivalent attachment: No, I'm not loveable. No, I can't trust you. This most often emerges in those who have a history of trauma. They want you close, but once you get close, they push you away.

I noticed that after I started working at BYU, I would often find myself on social media- more than ever before. I'd gone from working with 90% women and talking about kids, dating, recipes, life etc. to working mostly alone in my office and was surrounded by colleagues in a different stage of life. Going to lunch now meant that we were going to schedule in another hour of work during lunch instead of going to lunch to hear the latest dating stories and talk about our parenting woes and triumphs.  Additionally, most evenings my husband was now gone so I'm usually at work or with my kids. And no longer living in a townhouse community meant I actually had to set up play dates and try for other connection with moms. It's been a bit hard on me. I was craving some more connection. Social media provides some diminished form of connection, but not quite the real thing. There is just something about adult connection that I miss. Nevertheless, I find myself on social media quite often.

This lecture that I watched really hit me. He proposed that the biggest threat to our relationships right now is technology. I've read the articles about how technology can get in the way of parent-child relationships and seen the pictures.

What message do we want to send our kids? How available are we to them? How responsive are we to their needs? How emotionally engaged and present are we when they want us?

I'm trying this year to put my phone down when I get home from work and spend more quality time with my kids. Trying to not just turn on PBS when we first wake up in the morning and actually be present with them. And, most importantly, trying to teach my kids to better emotionally regulate. There are some recent studies that suggest that more use of technology in kids is highly correlated with sensory disorders, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. I've been guilty of handing my kids a tablet or turning on a show to get them to stop fighting instead of actually helping them work through it. Kids are not regulating as well as they used to. And my guess is parents are doing the same thing. When I'm stressed and want to unwind, I will often go to mindless social media and scroll away. Not the best thing to do. And it may work a bit, but connection would be the better solution.

Have you seen this commercial?

Do you hear the kids? "I'd die without my phone." "When I'm feeling stressed, I just play video games. It's like I'm in the game."

I know I need to do better with my own emotional regulation and I'm hoping to. How often do you find yourself connected to technology instead of a human? How are you emotionally regulating? There's some great research done by a woman I went through grad school with that examined couples' use of texting in relationships. They found that when texting was used to express love, affection and even reminders of tasks it could build relational satisfactory. However, using texts to apologize, criticize and argue actually hurt relationships and caused more insecurity in couples.

Some teenagers and young adults today are so emotionally stunted and can hardly come talk to the professor after class and look them in the eye, let alone have an emotionally intense conversation or attempt vulnerability in a relationship. I know I'm not the only one who's been in a room of people and we're all on our own electronic device not actually talking to each other or only talking about the things we're reading on the news, seeing in social media. I'm a bit worried about the newest generations where technology has been around since their birth, but only time will tell.

"The solution for more connection will never be more screen time."

Put your phone #DownForOne hour
This could be the most important resolution you make this year
Posted by Deseret News on Monday, January 4, 2016

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Some Honest Thoughts as a Mother Who Works

I've felt so incredibly self-conscious and anxious this past year. My anxiety has been borderline panicky. Sometimes, it just feels like my skin is crawling. Sometimes, I just want to break down and cry. It's a lot of pressure I've put upon myself. I love to be successful. I loved being in school- I did it for 20 years, darn it! I knew I was good at it. 

My new job as a faculty member is a whole new adventure that I'm not quite sure how to navigate through.

I don't want to let myself down. I told my therapist the other day, "I don't want to seem stuck up, but I've had a very blessed life. All my life I dreamed of going to BYU. It was the only college I applied to. I got in. I got full-ride scholarships all the way through a PhD. I have met the people I've needed to meet to get connected. I got a great job at the end of my program when our family needed it. I got my dream job at age 25.... I could go on, but it basically seems in my life I've worked hard and I've gotten everything I've ever wanted..... I just don't want these big things- My dream job. My Children. My Marriage. The big things that matter- to be the things I fail at. Because I know everybody has to fail at some point..... What if my time is now?"

Failure terrifies me.

My thinking goes something like this on a regular basis... (see if you can even follow)
I love my job, but what if I'm not good at my job? I think I'm good at it. The students and faculty tell me I'm really good and my vitality brings a lot. What if I can't get CFS? What if they don't really like me? I'm improving the program so much, though. I have such a good vision. What if they're just playing me and just want me here to get things together and they'll let me go in a couple years? What if this is all just some funny game to them? What if I don't ever feel welcome? What if I fail my dream job?
What a waste it would be if I spent so much time working at home and at work while my kids are young. What if my kids turn out to be delinquent? It'll be all my fault for working. All this research that shows how moms are such a great impact on their children- especially when they're young like mine are. Oh gosh. It'll be all my fault. If Aidan ever does drugs. If Avalon has premartial sex. If they're bullied. If they become bullies. It'll be all my fault because I wasn't home more.
But being home all the time would honestly drive me crazy. Does that make me a bad woman? Am I a bad LDS woman because I want to work? I got a PhD. I should use it. He opened doors of opportunity for this. Should I be repenting of my desire to work? Is this just a test from Him to see if I can let go of this job? Should I be quitting? Should I be choosing my family over work? Can I do both? How do people balance this? I'm pretty sure God told us this was the correct choice for us at this time. 
And what about Aaron? He's been so down lately; it's like he's been emasculated. He doesn't have a career and he's 30. He always mentions that he wants a career. Am I so selfish to work while he stays home? He doesn't really have any friends in our new town. He has hobbies, but I don't really like them the way he does. What if me working is tearing our marriage apart? What if he needs to work? He hasn't finished his Bachelor's yet. Another thing that kills at his self-esteem. Is that my fault somehow, too? But really I guess he couldn't provide right now like I can provide.
Oh man, the pressure of providing. That just feels so heavy. I hate feeling like every bit of our life depends on me- our house, our cars, our kids' education and future, groceries, ayeeee. I wonder if this is how Aaron felt while he was working full-time. This is insane. So much pressure. 
I have to provide, but I also need to be the nurturer. How the heck do I do both? What if I fail? What if I utterly fail at that which is most important? Okay. Job- I could find a new job. My kids and my husband are what matter. I should focus more on them. Screw working my butt off for work. It's not like I'll get a decent raise, anyway, since I don't publish. But I do still have to provide... 
Okay. Breathe. It'll all be okay. God has a plan. It'll all be okay. He can see everything. Remember your patriarchal blessing. Breathe. Pray.... 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Marriage is Hard, Life is Hard: "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence"

"...I would like to have a dollar for every person in a courtship who knew he or she had felt the guidance of the Lord in that relationship, had prayed about the experience enough to know it was the will of the Lord, knew they loved each other and enjoyed each other’s company, and saw a lifetime of wonderful compatibility ahead—only to panic, to get a brain cramp, to have total catatonic fear sweep over them. They “draw back,” as Paul said, if not into perdition at least into marital paralysis.

I am not saying you shouldn’t be very careful about something as significant and serious as marriage. And I certainly am not saying that a young man can get a revelation that he is to marry a certain person without that young woman getting the same confirmation. I have seen a lot of those one-way revelations in young people’s lives. Yes, there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. You can find an apartment. You can win over your mother-in-law. You can sell your harmonica and therein fund one more meal. It’s been done before. Don’t give in. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. He wants everyone to be miserable like unto himself. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you."...

Virtually everyone in the room knows the formula for revelation given in section 9 of the Doctrine and Covenants—you know, the verses about studying it out in your mind and the Lord promising to confirm or deny. What most of us don’t read in conjunction with this is the section that precedes it—section 8. In that revelation the Lord defined revelation:
I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. [I love the combination there of both mind and heart. God will teach us in a reasonable way and in a revelatory way—mind and heart combined, by the Holy Ghost.]"

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sleep and the Teenage Brain

I just read this very interesting article about sleep and teenagers. I'm noticing that now that I'm done with school and can be more in tune with my awake and tired cues I tend to go to sleep around 10:30. I'm still not totally honoring them because of a newborn and a toddler, of course, but it's a huge improvement from when I was doing homework after the kids went to sleep.

"Biology’s cruel joke goes something like this: As a teenage body goes through puberty, its circadian rhythm essentially shifts three hours backward. Suddenly, going to bed at nine or ten o’clock at night isn’t just a drag, but close to a biological impossibility. Studies of teenagers around the globe have found that adolescent brains do not start releasing melatonin until around eleven o’clock at night and keep pumping out the hormone well past sunrise. Adults, meanwhile, have little-to-no melatonin in their bodies when they wake up. With all that melatonin surging through their bloodstream, teenagers who are forced to be awake before eight in the morning are often barely alert and want nothing more than to give in to their body’s demands and fall back asleep. Because of the shift in their circadian rhythm, asking a teenager to perform well in a classroom during the early morning is like asking him or her to fly across the country and instantly adjust to the new time zone — and then do the same thing every night, for four years.

...The lack of sleep affects the teenage brain in similar ways to the adult brain, only more so. Chronic sleep deprivation in adolescents diminishes the brain’s ability to learn new information, and can lead to emotional issues like depression and aggression. Researchers now see sleep problems as a cause, and not a side effect, of teenage depression. In one study by researchers at Columbia University, teens who went to bed at 10 p.m. or earlier were less likely to suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts than those who regularly stayed awake well after midnight."


At any given point, I tend to have at least 3 tabs open and probably a word document and/or spreadsheet open on my computer...

"We live in a society that seems to force multitasking. Most people do not do it very well, but researchers at the University of Utah have identified "supertaskers".
"But it's only 2-and-a-half percent that are able to engage in those activities simultaneously without impairment," said Jason Watson, associate professor of Cognition and Neural Science at the University of Utah."
There's a fun little game that can test your ability to multitask HERE

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

15 Reasons Why Being Married to a Therapist May Actually be More Difficult Than Dating Them

Recently, eHarmony posted an awesome article with a list of 15 Reasons to Date a Therapist. They are pretty awesome reasons!

As I was reading through them, I thought, Hm. I'm a pretty normal wife with plenty of issues. Pretty sure Aaron is a much better person for being married to a therapist than I am as the therapist.

So I came up with a little add-on for each of the eHarmony reasons for why that reason could actual be a bit of a stumbling block in a marriage thus making the spouse o the therapist the "better" marriage partner.

15 Reasons to Date a Therapist Being Married to a Therapist Isn't Anything Amazing 
(or Perhaps, Why it is Even More Difficult than the Average Marriage)

15 Reasons Anybody Married to a Therapist Is Amazing and Deserves an Award for their Patience, Empathy and Understanding

1. Therapists are great listeners, and intentionally do so without judgement.
But when therapists have been listening to people all day long, they really just want somebody to listen to them talk without judgment.

2. Therapists keep secrets. If you’re looking for someone trustworthy, a therapist is trained in confidentiality.
This also means they may be a bit socially awkward because they can't discuss the details of their work at the local dinner parties and after-work chat may be limited when you ask about their day.

3. Therapists offer good advice and can help you make wise choices if you’re looking for input into a difficult situation.
Or they'll just sit their and ask you what you think you should do in various phrasings over and over until you've made the best decision yourself (... or have you?)

4. Therapists are compassionate.
Which means they may often come home burnt out and just not have any compassion left when you want to talk to them at the end of the day so they tell you to just, "Deal with it".

5. A lot of people are in therapy. If your date is good at what he/she does, he/she has job security.
You may end up in therapy at multiple points in your marriage because everybody needs therapy- including you, and your marriage, and your kids etc.

6. Therapists are acutely aware of emotional needs and the human condition. It’s safe to be vulnerable around them.
They carry a lot of emotions throughout the day while only showing clients brief snippets of their reactions. You will get to witness the full brunt and the crying meltdown if your spouse had a hard day or is feeling incredibly empathetic toward a client and their struggles. (You also get to see the good and great days, too. It can be a bit of a roller coaster.)

7. Therapists want to see positive change take place and are proactive when it comes to problem-solving.
You may find yourself saying to your spouse, "I just want you to listen. Stop giving me solutions."

8. Therapists are good communicators. Not only do they listen well, they help people acknowledge their own weaknesses and make healthy decisions. Game-playing and cryptic comments won’t help clients, so neither are part of their communication arsenal.
Because they aren't usually cryptic with clients, they may overdo it with you at home because they don't want to seem like they are being too bossy and powerful in your marriage and want to make sure all decisions are very mutual.

9. Therapists have seen and heard it all. Your date will not be intimidated by your crazy family.
But now you also understand why your spouse became a therapist- your in-laws. Of course he/she wasn't intimidated by your crazy family!

10. Therapists might seem like intimidating dates, but they aren’t holier-than-thou. Rather, therapists are aware of their own weaknesses, insecurities and shortcomings. You’ll soon realize that your therapist significant other could be just as confused as you are at times.
You will see them at their lowest lows and wonder, "How could anybody pay him/her for help and guidance through problems and difficulties? He/She is barely keeping it together." or "Why does anybody pay a therapist when they are really just normal people?"

11. Therapists are safe and consistent. When other people have crises, they call your date for wisdom, stability and security. Others trust that he/she will be there for them even when they make poor choices or little progress.
Your dates and quiet time could and will be interrupted by those friends that are having crises. If you are struggling, you may feel intimidated to reach out to your own spouse feeling that they already have too many other people to worry about.

12. Therapists are interesting. Instead of small talk about the weather, your date can offer interesting facts and tidbits about human behavior. Even while keeping cases confidential, therapists still have plenty of entertaining stories to share.
The entertaining stories are often surrounding socially taboo topics and will usually make other guests blush or offer a courtesy laugh as they walk away, leaving you and your spouse alone.

13. Therapists at work aren’t necessarily therapists at home. Don’t assume that a therapist is going to act or respond a certain way at home because of what he/she does for a living. Even the best therapists can neglect to make wise decisions during off hours. If you’re paranoid about getting analyzed during every fight, you may be surprised to find your date uninterested in using psychobabble outside the office.
You get to be the stronger one in the relationship and help buoy your partner when they are struggling. You will learn to pick on the smallest emotional or physical cues in your spouse and be ready to jump in at any moment to help him/her.

14. Therapists are available to those who need them. You date will understand that in certain situations, it’s important to always be available. While this may be annoying for therapists’ partners, it’s encouraging to know that your therapist date is prepared to drop everything for you when times get tough.
He/she may often be running late from work due to client's doorknob therapy or most recent crisis because he/she needed to help the client become functional and commit to safety before ending the session.

15. Therapists are emotionally strong. They help clients process heartbreaking stories all the time. If you need a shoulder to cry on, your partner will be capable of sharing the burden.
Therapists appear emotionally strong, but also get burdened at times and need a break. So, have your shoulder ready and your arms open to hold her.

*Please note that some of these may seem insensitive, but I'm just being brutally honest and/or attempting some humor here

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Advice from Elder Busche

Elder F. Enzio Busche
Quorum of the Seventy
BYU Devotional May 14, 1996

I want to share with you a vehicle, an instrument, that I developed some time ago for myself and for my family. It can assist us to reach our focus as we read the suggested vision of true discipleship as a Latter-day Saint. It helps when we, from time to time, ponder and seek identification with the following thoughts.
Embrace this day with an enthusiastic welcome, no matter how it looks. The covenant with God to which you are true enables you to become enlightened by him, and nothing is impossible for you.
When you are physically sick, tired, or in despair, steer your thoughts away from yourself and direct them, in gratitude and love, toward God.
In your life there have to be challenges. They will either bring you closer to God and therefore make you stronger, or they can destroy you. But you make the decision of which road you take.
First and foremost, you are a spirit child of God. If you neglect to feed your spirit, you will reap unhappiness. Don’t permit anything to detract you from this awareness.
You cannot communicate with God unless you have first sacrificed your self-oriented natural man and have brought yourself into the lower levels of meekness, to become acceptable for the Light of Christ.
Put all frustrations, hurt feelings, and grumblings into the perspective of your eternal hope. Light will flow into your soul. Pause to ponder the suffering Christ felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the awareness of the depth of gratitude for him, you appreciate every opportunity to show your love for him by diligently serving in his Church. God knows that you are not perfect.
As you suffer about your imperfections he will give you comfort and suggestions of where to improve. God knows better than you what you need. He always attempts to speak to you.
Listen, and follow the uncomfortable suggestions that he makes to us—everything will fall into its place.
Avoid any fear like your worst enemy, but magnify your fear about the consequences of sin.
When you cannot love someone, look into that person’s eyes long enough to find the hidden rudiments of the child of God in him. Never judge anyone. When you accept this, you will be freed. In the case of your own children or subordinates, where you have the responsibility to judge help them to become their own judges.
If someone hurts you so much that your feelings seem to choke you, forgive and you will be free again.
Avoid at all cost any pessimistic, negative, or criticizing thoughts. If you cannot cut them out, they will do you harm.
On the road to salvation let questions arise but never doubts. If something is wrong, God will give you clarity but never doubts. Avoid rush and haste and uncontrolled words.
Divine light develops in places of peace and quiet. Be aware of that as you enter places of worship.
Be not so much concerned about what you do, but what you do with all your heart, might, and strength. In thoroughness is satisfaction.
You want to be good and do good, that is commendable, but the greatest achievement that can be reached in our lives is to be under the complete influence of the Holy Ghost then he will teach us what is really good and necessary to do.
The pain of sacrifice last only on moment. It is the fear of the pain of sacrifice that makes you hesitate to do it. Be grateful for every opportunity to serve. It helps you more than those you serve.
And finally, when you are compelled to give up something or when things that are dear to you are withdrawn from you, know this is your lesson to be learned right now. But know also that as you are learning this lesson God wants to give you something better.
Thus, we prepare all the days of our lives, and, as we grow death loses its sting, hell loses its power, and we look forward to that day with anticipation of joy when He will come in his glory.