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Just read an interesting piece about a study of adolescents with symptoms of insomnia. Researchers at the University of North Texas examined nearly 4,500 adolescents and more than 3,500 young adults over a 6 to 7 year period.  They found that 9% of the adolescents reported insomnia symptoms, and that teens with those symptoms were two times more likely to develop depression in early adulthood than adolescents without insomnia.

In addition, adolescents with insomnia were also more likely to use alcohol and drugs and have suicidal thoughts.

There is good news about the study.

1.  Symptoms of insomnia in children and adolescents can be addressed early.  Early intervention is always useful because sufficient sleep is paramount to healthy development.

2.  Parents, educators and others are alerted to signs of a risk factor for early adult depression and substance abuse.

This study appeared in the journal Sleep.

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Why Do I Feel So Guilty?

This is a frequent question – and for those who feel guilt frequently – a  troubling one.  Guilt is an acute or a nagging  sense of a perceived wrongdoing.  A perceived wrongdoing meaning you think you have done or said something you shouldn‘t have said or done.  Guilt occurs when you believe your actions do not measure up to your internalized standards.  The flip side (and a very common one) is associated with the belief that you have failed to live up to some else’s standards.

Let’s begin with the guilt associated with your own standards (your personal code of ethics or value system).  Let’s say you feel guilt because you have cheated, intentionally been unkind to someone, or lied (even a “white lie).  Accepting responsibility for your wrongdoing, making restitution, restoring trust,  and striving to avoid such actions in the future produce positive consequences.  Insight into why you strayed from your internalized values can be very useful here.  Take a close look at your intentions.  Did you confuse your wants with needs?  Did your actions make you feel more powerful?  attractive?  superior?  When ego gets in our way (and this IS ego), the desired results are seldom achieved.  And guilt is your reminder of ego.

When you feel an unsettling guilt that comes from failing to live up to someone else’s expectations, watch out.  Ridding yourself of this guilt can be hard, and requires a good deal more exploring.  This kind of guilt frequently leads to anger — at the other party — at yourself — or both.  No examples are necessary here.  We all know the parent, the spouse, the child, the boss or the friend who “makes me feel so guilty.”  This is irrational guilt.

Another person cannot make you feel guilty.  Only you have that ability and it is a decision you make. What and how you decide to think about the situation will determine how you feel.  Faulty thinking is often the result of running thoughts through the mental filters we learned while growing up – many of which need replacing.  In the case of guilt the implication is that someone other than you is in charge of your personal values.  Re-examine your thinking — challenge your thoughts — irrational guilt can be a thing of the past.

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Nell provides motivational instruction and support to individuals, couples and organizations in the principles of emotional well being.  No matter what your current situation…you can choose happy…and refuse to be upset…about anything.

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How Do You Talk To Yourself?

Have you ever made a careless error at work?  Then berated yourself for the error with “How stupid.” Dropped a container of blueberries sending them scattering across the kitchen floor?  Immediately chastising yourself by saying “You are so stupid”! Been passed over for a job promotion and said to yourself, I knew I wouldn’t get it.  I just don’t have what it takes to succeed”?

We humans persistently talk to ourselves..and we have been receiving information from others through our environment and our experiences since the beginning of life.  And where is that information recorded?  In our brain.  The human brain does not decipher truth or intent.  It takes what it is given.  If the brain receives a message often enough, it  believes it to be truth.  These “truths”, perceptions, interpretations, judgments, beliefs then determine how we view ourselves, our world, and others in it.  They become our core beliefs.  Accurate or not, we believe them to be truth.

Our discontent is the result of hanging on to negative beliefs…sabotaging confidence in self and others, disrupting harmony in relationships, and producing harmful (negative) energy.  With enough frequency, negative thoughts and statements (whether you say them to yourself or they come from history and experiences) leave you feeling upset, angry, sad, etc.   This leads to feelings and behaviors that, too, are negative or unsatisfying.  The problem is – most of us are not aware that we harbor negative beliefs.  We tell  ourselves “if I believe this so strongly and I think it all the time, it must be true.”  It’s time to challenge these thoughts, because

THOUGHTS……DETERMINE FEELINGS…..DETERMINE BEHAVIOR

This, simply put, defines the cognitive/behavioral approach to change.  But….how does one do this?

To re-program the brain to think differently, such thoughts and statements must be replaced with positive, calm or rational thoughts.  Negative thoughts cannot be wished …or willed away.  Saying “I just won’t think about it” doesn’t work  either.

Again, the brain believes what it is consistently taught!!!!!  Your feelings and behaviors respond to the beliefs, or commands, of your brain just as your muscles respond to the brain’s message.  This is true in all cases where the brain and body are healthy; e.g. undamaged neurologically or biologically.

Start to develop your own list of positive affirmations.

How do you want to feel about yourself (your “ideal“ self).   It is important to state your affirmations in the here-and-now; e.g. “I am confident”, “I respect others”, “I am lovable.”  It is imperative to avoid negative words (“I am not” or “I will not” or “Never” – the brain does not recognize “Not”).  Now. Write Them Down.  You don’t necessarily have to believe them yet.  Let your brain do its work.  Remember, many of us have a lot of repair work to do from years of negative input.

Place your affirmations in conspicuous places and repeat them as many times a day as possible.  The four transitional periods of the day are most important: 1.on waking, 2.leaving for work/school/activites,3. returning home, 4.at bedtime.

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