Author Archives: Sally Sacks

How to Take Personal Responsibility for Change in COVID Times

In this age of the Coronavirus, many things have changed resulting in anxiety, uncertainty, grief, and fear. The full impact of this virus is yet unknown, but we do see what has happened concerning it on a small and large scale. Businesses have closed, fundraisers and charities that help others have been cancelled, personal activities and events have been postponed or cancelled, and the outlets that we once had, like exercise, yoga studios, and other group interaction have not been readily available. This has contributed to isolation, anxiety, and grief. People are feeling more separated from family and friends causing depression and insecurity. With schools closing, children are missing their friends and parents are struggling to find balance and sanity with work and homeschooling, and just helping kids to get their work done. What a mess we have! In addition to Coronavirus, and other emotion filled events and actions in our world, we still have to deal with everyday life issues. This compounds stress so everything may seem harder to do.

How can we ease the effects of this discord in our world? I have always advocated that change starts from us; from within. Helping others and reaching out to others can really ease depression, anxiety and grief.  We can gain more control over our lives by being careful, wearing a mask, protecting ourselves and others, washing hands and surfaces.  We can also ease this virus’s effect by collective goodwill and generosity.  We can work individually to fight negativity and promote change in ourselves and others.

How do we take personal responsibility for change? Here are some helpful tips.

  1. Distant yourself from negativity in the news. Watching news constantly promotes negativity and that negative energy is contagious. Be informed but not obsessed.
  2. Stay distant from negative self-righteous people. Their negative energy contagious. Many are toxic and over the top with their views. It is good to be passionate and fight for causes and rights; it is bad to be consumed by the negative energy around hate and anger. Rants and rages push many away, and cause stress within you as well.
  3. Focus on solutions (what you can do), rather than what you cannot do. Take personal responsibility for your choices each day, one day at a time.
  4. Understand others feelings and be kind. Everyone’s feelings, (anger or love), come from somewhere in the past. People who are angry have been hurt. Understand that and work toward healing not hate and separation.
  5. Start helping others individually. Call that friend that is alone, make someone a delicious meal or a banana bread. Send someone a card just to let them know that you are thinking of them.
  6. Listen to music and find your own form of devotion. Maybe it is a traditional God or deity. Maybe it is walking in nature breathing in the air and soaking up the sunshine. Maybe it is meditating in a quiet place, and coming into the present moment. Maybe you curl up with a pet and feel grateful for the things you cherish.
  7. Acknowledge people; be kind. There are opportunities daily, to make a difference in another’s life. A kind word and gesture go a long way.
  8. Limit distracting technology that distances you from the people that matter most.
  9. Create something. Write, draw, paint, cook, dance, play music. Creative expression has always been associated with a sense of well-being. Sometimes creativity expresses what words cannot.

As the popular quote from Mahatma Ghandi says, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. It all begins with you.

Warm Regards,
Sally

Love one another

Thoughts On Our Times

Love one another

America has had killings, protests, violence and more. Everyone has their opinion about what is right, what is wrong and what we should do. These are all subjective ideas based on people’s upbringing, and learned behavior. All these rioters for example do not have the same agenda. Some are peaceful, some are angry yet productive, and many empathize with those that feel slighted, left out and singled out. Others feel justified in supporting and engaging in violence. Some folks are justifying tearing up cities and some are appalled.

Empathy and Solutions
We need empathy and solutions. People protesting need answers. What is going to happen How can we guarantee police officers will be screened and educated, to weed out the destructive ones. Not all are bad. How can we be assured that there is protection for black people who have been targeted? It just takes compassion to show empathy and sympathy for others. Showing empathy for some people, (even though they may have it), is hard.  When empathy doesn’t come across, there is more unrest.

Communication and Emotional Development
This current situation is about communication and emotional development and unfortunately many intelligent people do not have it. Emotional awareness (see my seminars online), is learned not innate. You can’t change ingrained ways of behaving and thinking that have been embedded in the subconscious. You can only teach, educate and set boundaries to protect others from people’s hurtful beliefs and behaviors.

The Most Important Ingredient
Love is the most important ingredient and that is a high-level way of acting. When you love you love period. You love the oppressed and those that oppress, because they are to be pitied. It is sad to see anyone die when you live in love. It is heartbreaking to see anyone beaten.

Education
Until we educate people how to rise to higher emotional levels we will always have issues.  Many will learn; many will not. We have to work individually and collectively to educate each other. This is what ministers, rabbis, yoga teachers, spiritual leaders, songwriters, writers, teachers, and enlightened human beings all strive to do. Keep on doing it. Education is the responsibility of each of us. We all need to come together, listening to each other and learning. We need to move forward with new visions.

To learn about the foundations we all need to grow emotionally and psychologically, please take a listen to my seminars located at: SacksandAssociateCounselingCenter.com.

Living with Uncertainty in This Challenging Time

This is a time like no other for us. Most of us have never lived through a pandemic such as this. We may have heard stories as kids about the polio epidemic, but they never really seemed real. Many people feel anxious and confused, and experience different emotions daily.

I think this a time of quiet, of thought-provoking moments with nowhere to run.

We are faced with ourselves, stuck in rooms with nowhere to escape. We can grow from this if we allow ourselves to.

Hurt from others, fear of the future, confusion, and living with uncertainty overtake us. We are scared to risk and live without control and in uncertainty. We are never really in control. We only have the illusion of it.

Letting go of this, having faith, and living in the present moment is precisely what we need. We are never in control of things beyond our control so we need to learn to let go. “There but for the grace of God go I”, meaning it happened to them it can happen to me.

All we really have is the present moment and what we do in it, and make of it. This is the reason that I added yoga to my counseling practice. I felt people needed to feel the present moment, not just talk about it, and see where that feeling takes them.

In the present moment we learn to face ourselves; we are no longer able to be distracted from out thoughts by running to TJ Maxx, the local bar, the bookstore or mall. In this era right now, we must sit with ourselves and all parts of that self.

When we look at our raw selves we are face to face with:

  1. Who am I? What defines me? Do I like my behavior and/or myself?
  2. Am I overly fearful and anxious?
  3. Am I comfortable alone? Why? Why not?
  4. Can I motivate myself? Am I interesting?
  5. Can I structure my day with my own hobbies and interests?
  6. How do I fill up my time?
  7. How do I interact with people with lots of together time? What choice do I make daily?
  8. How do I handle relationships?
  9. Do my kids like me?
  10. How do I define myself without a job or another person? Back to who am I?

So, our goal is to use this time to get to meet ourselves, in all forms. Let all parts of you come to the table. Use this time to create who you want to be, not being defined by the outside but from the inside. “Stay Inside”, takes on a whole new meaning.

If you are having trouble examining yourself in close quarters give Sacks and Associates Counseling a call – 978-486-8046. We are here to help.

In peace,
Sally

Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

Managing Stress, Fear and Anxiety During Covid-19 Pandemic

Many are in fear regarding the contagious effect of this virus and consequences, particularly for the elderly. Others such as people with compromised immune systems, first responders, children, teens, and people with anxiety and other various mental health issues are also of particular concern.

There are ways to manage this stress and fear, and I wrote this blog to help with that because we need to protect from the virus, but we also need to protect ourselves from the severe anxiety around it. Anxiety is bad for you and can actually promote illness if you have too much of it.

With the closings of people’s social connections, stress outlets, colleges, gyms, and churches, many people’s way of coping with life have been compromised. The very things we need at this time may seem unavailable. In conjunction with that we are all dealing with uncertainty and the impatience, fear and worry that go with that. When this will end we do not know.

Fear and anxiety at this time are normal. Some even say they are feeling the symptoms, even if it is just an allergy or a slight flu symptom.

The media and mass fear are contagious indeed. The disruption of support and social interaction combined with paranoia in some can be debilitating.

Parenting at this time is challenging as well. Kids are home due to the pandemic and we want to keep them safe, but again don’t instill fear. By this I mean we want to teach children to be safe and cautious, or anyone for that matter, without overreacting in fear. Remember the titanic. Some went down singing, others in shear panic. We choose how we react and speak about a situation. Our children will learn from us. This doesn’t mean we are undermining or minimizing the seriousness of this, it just means we use healthy language and skills to help people be HOPEFUL and safe.

Here are some helpful tips to combat anxiety and fear.

  1. Stop watching the news constantly. You can be informed but not obsessed. If you miss something, believe me, someone will let you know.
  2. Engage in something new or something you have had limited time for in the past. Cook, play music, write, read a book you have put off, finish a well overdue project. Learn something new online. Clean out your closet and give clothes to goodwill.
  3. Exercise. There are millions of online classes and some are free. You can go on youtube or eventbrite to find some. Walking is free. Try walking daily in different spots. Get the yoga mat, turn on calming or upbeat music and stretch.
  4. Meditate and breathe. There are apps online for meditation instruction. You Tube has many for free.
  5. Repeat positive affirmations contradicting negative rhetoric and thoughts: I am healthy; My immune system is strong and protective; This too shall pass; Most people recover; My loved ones will be fine. Remember positive thinking is not denial. It is a survival mechanism. It is essential.
  6. Eat healthy, breathe and take care of your body
  7. Spend time with your animals and family, play games, talk, engage.
  8. Treat yourself to something each day. Maybe a fine piece of chocolate, a new recipe, a soothing bath with a new soap. Purchase a new musical piece if you play music.  Make a new food dish for yourself and your family.
  9. Check in with people you love. For those that are alone don’t forget them. It’s much harder to be alone each day with social distancing. Pick up the phone more. Engage in less texting. People are lonely and want true connection.

Remember this in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

EXPLORE. LIVE. CREATE SOMETHING NEW.

Peace and love,

Sally

How to Teach Kids to Navigate This Political Climate

Remember the old adage “children live what they learn”. Ah so true.

I have spent my life’s work teaching and learning emotional development and how to program the mind for success and mental health. I have been blessed to share my knowledge with others, and to learn from others as well.

So here is my first blog in a series of many to come. The content will always be applicable to real life challenges, and take a how to approach so that you leave with hands on tools. Here is our first topic.

How to teach our children to navigate this political climate.

The behavior we show our children is really about us, our goals, our values, our beliefs. We must check them carefully because we are our children’s biggest teachers by what we say and do. Children are programmed by the 5 senses; what they hear, see, taste, smell, and feel. So be careful what you put out there.

Our country has become a big, open festering wound. The current political climate has shown us everyone’s feelings being poured out on the table, and those open feelings, wounds, are further aggravated by salt being poured into them every day.

People who engage in spiritual practices and mindfulness techniques usually don’t engage in the salt throwing into wounds because they see it as non-productive. They are teaching to rise to higher levels of thought. We will discuss this later.

Hate, fear, and angry rants only perpetuate more of the same and convey very bad messages to children.

Kids today are hearing everything. They hear too much mis-information, hate, anger, bullying and dirt slinging.  Since kids live what they learn, they learn to mirror these behaviors. There should be no reward for this on either side.

Kids are repeating hateful comments they have heard from parents and friends. They don’t like another because he or she is termed a “trump supporter”, or a democrat lier.

We can blame this on candidates, but here is the deal. If you repeat the hate, you too are guilty of promoting hate. I write this on MLK day thinking of what made him great. That was his ability to lead in a non-violent way to the advancement of civil rights.

We want to teach children by our words and actions important lessons in life. Some may define that as aggressively sticking up to anyone opposed to their point of view, condemning them openly. I suggest these rants on both sides are ineffective and destructive.

They teach nothing. Here are techniques to help your kids develop into healthy people, that carry qualities that will help them in our challenging world.

  1. Model understanding and respect, even for those with opposing views.
  2. Understand that when you mirror self-righteousness and ugly rants condemning others on the campaign trail, you tell your kids it’s ok to become obsessed with anger, hate, and that yelling and ranting is ok.
  3. When you engage in angry rants, criticism and intolerance it encourages kids to be aggressive and act like a bully.
  4. Teach acceptance and tolerance, and teach kids to understand others and why they may think differently. Unless your kids grow up in a bubble, they will need to accept others and understand differences to get along in the world, and also to understand what motivates people’s behavior.
  5. Don’t let aggression and hate overpower acceptance, understanding and tolerance.
  6. Teach empathy. True empathy means you learn to feel for all human beings.
  7. Use coaching techniques with your kids by asking them questions. For example, ask: 1. Why do you like this candidate? 2. What do others think? 3. What do you think about this?
  8. Ask questions, don’t tell kids what to believe. Let them develop their own skills. Let them find answers within.
  9. Share why you believe what you do based on your values and beliefs, and let them know others may think differently and why. Is it because they are horrible people or just learned differently? Educate.
  10. Encourage children to listen to step back to understand others point of view. They can still have their own beliefs, but listening to others is an invaluable skill in life for success.
  11. Many in this climate react without proof. Let kids know to do their research. Don’t react from hearsay.
  12. Seize opportunities to teach about the political system, how it works, and why people win or lose. Educate.
  13. And mostly teach empathy. Teach kids to have tolerance for others Not just for political leaders but for all people.

With these lessons and learnings kids will grow up with emotional awareness, become better thinkers, and more well-rounded human beings.

Remember they are the leaders of tomorrow.

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash