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What Do You Want Your Life to Stand For?

10.19.20

Halloween, All Hallows’ Day and Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) are part of family traditions for many. Halloween may be most familiar to you if you were born in the United States. Growing up in Guatemala my family used to celebrate el Día de Los Muertos. At that time families visit cemeteries, eat delicious food and remember their departed loved ones’ lives. Today, I’d like to invite you to think about the Day of the Dead and imagine what your grave will look like after you’re gone. Most importantly, what would the engraving on your tombstone say? Picture your loved ones talking about you and trying to decide what to inscribe. What would they think of you based on the way you’ve spent your time and energy every day of your life?

5 Ways to Cope with Parenting Stress

9.6.20

View original article published in Psych Central– The uncertainty in the world may be getting on your nerves, and the problem is that you are not the only one you need to worry about. Your children can also feel your stress and that can create stressed kids. If you and your children were struggling with anxiety before the pandemic, it has now probably heightened. Summer may have provided some respite, but new worries may be cropping up. What’s a parent to do when there are so many issues to worry about and no chance of knowing with certainty that your feared outcomes won’t come true? Here are a few questions to help you gauge your current stress level: Have you found yourself getting upset by trivial situations? Have you found it difficult

What to Do with Intrusive Thoughts?

8.13.20

View original article published in Psych Central– If you had a devastating illness and were given one year to live, what would you do? No question there would be grief and plenty of important decisions to make. If it didn’t debilitate you completely, what would you do with your time? Where would you focus your attention and energy? Would you be willing to spend more time with your loved ones despite the pain that shows up? Would you be doing activities that you’ve enjoyed in life or would you stay home lamenting what life would’ve been if you didn’t have this affliction? As mortal beings, we are guaranteed physical, mental and emotional pain. The prospect of getting away from pain is a fantasy, and we all know it. Yet, when we are in the

Relationship OCD? ACT’s Cognitive Defusion Skills Can Help!

10.18.19

View original article published in Psych Central– Maddie thought she liked and loved her fiancé but lately began to question whether she really did. Every time they were together she would start obsessing, “His ears are too big. Our kids are going to have big ears. They’ll resent me. Do I want to obsess about his ears the rest of my life? Maybe I should call the wedding off? But then he is a great guy! What if we end up divorcing because of that? That would be horrible!” When her fiancé would ask, “What’s the matter?” she would dismiss the question as “Nothing.” “Sorry, what were you saying?” Her incessant thoughts brought uncertainty and anxiety. She would also review all the “good” things about him to feel reassured. She would ask her fa

Accepting Your Feelings and Bodily Sensations Now

8.23.19

View original article published in Psych Central– While snorkeling in the ocean, I had the opportunity to remember an invaluable lesson regarding willingness — to take what is offered in the moment. Willingness is an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) principle that, when applied correctly, can help us live more meaningfully, despite unpleasant external and internal events. My snorkeling story illustrates how easily we forget that we should not try to fight the unfightable. We can learn to accept what is offered to us in the here and now, so we can focus on whom and what matters most in our lives. While swimming towards the area of a lagoon that had a reef by the open sea, my sister and I found some fish to look at but not as many as

Tug-of-War with the OCD Monster

5.1.19

When you struggle with OCD, it may feel like you are constantly fighting a monster that just won’t go away. Day in and day out you keep fighting it, and you feel exhausted. ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) researchers and clinicians use the Tug-of War with a Monster metaphor to help people realize that there are better options than fighting their thoughts and feelings each day of their lives. Let’s pretend that your fears and doubts are like a big, hideous, and strong monster. You hate it, and you want to destroy it. The monster is holding one end of the rope and you are at the other end. In between the two of you there is a huge cliff with hot lava. You don’t want to fall over it. You want to control the monster, and so you keep pu

A Panic Attack, the Wrestle Within

3.16.19

View original article published in Psych Central– Samantha felt overwhelmed by her school assignments, her relationships, and her job. She often felt like she was walking a tightrope while holding a pole that contained all of her “should” and “must” type of thoughts. “It’s not a matter of if, but when I’ll fall and crash!” she’d repeat. She would imagine placing her thoughts and feelings in a bottle and shutting the lid tightly. “I place them there so I can cope,” she would declare. She recognized her panic attack cycle: stress, anxiety, tension build up, and suppress until it shatters. Then starting all over again. She hated her panic attacks, but said she always felt better after experiencing one. Do Samantha’s struggles sound familiar?

When OCD is the Lemon Life Has Handed You

2.12.19

It has been said that when life gives you lemons you can make lemonade. Others say that they are willing to make lemon meringue pie, lemon cupcakes, lemon bars, lemon cookies, and lemon chicken, besides lemonade. The list can go on and on when you are creative and optimistic about your difficult circumstances. Certainly, no human being is free from adversity. It comes in different forms and some of us are able to handle it better than others. There is no question that it is how we look at our trials that can make a difference in how we deal with them. After all, “It is the struggle that creates the strength.” No matter how tough life gets, some people are able to stay optimistic. For others it may be extra challenging when the lemons relat

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

12.20.18

View original article published in Psych Central– Children sometimes have meltdowns when they don’t get what they want. Some adolescents can feel destitute when their wishes aren’t granted. When you feel confident about your plans and they don’t turn out the way you hoped, what is your response? As we run into bumps and storms in life, we may need to detour, delay, or completely cancel our plans. When we were young, we may have used words such as “It’s not fair,” and soon enough we found out this was true more often than not. Still, we protest, get mad, and blame others or ourselves for not obtaining our desires. When this happens, many of us get entangled with “should’ve,” “could’ve” “would’ve” type thoughts. Have you noticed the results

Procrastination: The Stalling Game Your Mind Loves to Play

11.30.18

View original article published in Psych Central– When you have an assignment, presentation, or a job interview, you know it is essential that you prepare for it. Yet, getting started feels like a monumental task. You may check your email and feel like you need to respond right away, or your friend texts, and you feel the urge to reply. Maybe you go on social media for a few minutes before you embark on the task at hand. You fidget, get a drink and a snack. You get another text, and your assignment just keeps getting further and further postponed. Procrastination is king when individuals experience anxiety, maladaptive perfectionism, and other mental and emotional challenges. But we all procrastinate at one time or another. Why does our mi

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A guide to help you find relief and happiness in spite of religious or moral OCD (scrupulosity OCD). Learn more about Annabella Hagen's book.
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