feeling unable

feeling unable
feeling unaccepted - feeling unacceptable
archived letters from kat

the emotional feelings network of sites!

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Your dictionary definition:




  1. Lacking the necessary power, authority, or means; not able; incapable; unable to get to town without a car.

  2. Lacking mental or physical capability or efficiency; incompetent: unable to walk.

You can always continue on to:
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Welcome to your unemotional side! I urge you to use the underlined link word method of exploring the emotional feelings network of sites by clicking on any of the underlined link words that will further explain a connection to the subject you are here studying. For a complete description of the underlined link word system: click here.
If you don't see what you were looking for - please access the homepage for a menu of the other sites within the network that might lead you to where you want to be!

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Can men tell you what they're feeling?

by Gary Smalley
Source site: Unknown

A man who can cry is a man who has learned some secrets about intimacy, but sadly, for many men it takes something tragic or life-changing before they understand this truth.

Here are a few ways you can tell if the man you love has trouble with intimacy or struggles to open up:

  • He's unable to discuss his feelings.
  • He's determined to avoid his feelings.
  • He's unable to express love, sorrow, or pain.
  • He's unable or unwilling to cry.
  • He's determined to make all situations into a joke.
  • He's determined to lighten the mood or change the topic when emotional issues are discussed.
  • He physically leaves the room when emotional issues are discussed.
  • He's insensitive to the emotions of those around him.

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Most men – unfortunately - don't undergo such traumatic experiences as the one described above. Yet many boys emerge from adolescence with a strong sense that being strong and unfeeling is the "masculine" thing to do.


When a male brain is saturated in testosterone, it doesn't take much, even from well-meaning family members, to give a boy the message that emotions and feelings are only for girls.


Here are some things your husband may have heard when growing up - things that may have shaped him into a seemingly uncaring person:

  • "Don't cry unless you're hurt."
  • "Tough it out."
  • "Boys don't cry."
  • "Only sissies get hurt feelings."
  • "It's a sign of weakness to let people know you're hurting."

If you love a man who doesn't seem to be able to express his feelings, you might want to consider using word pictures to help him identify what's going on inside.


A word picture uses a story or object to simultaneously activate the emotions and intellect of the hearer. As a result, he experiences your words rather than just hearing them.


It's important to realize that helping your husband learn to express his feelings will take time.

You might have to use several examples or try for several days, weeks, or even months before he's able to feel and share with you what's in his heart. And until he reaches that point, he won't be able to connect with you on an emotional intimate level.


Based on what I've learned in my many years of counseling, I've found that a woman's definition of intimacy is very different from a man's.

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unable to grasp this concept?
being unable to express can be frustrating!
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Consider the following lists:


What women mean by intimacy:

  • Deep emotional connection
  • Daily time sharing your heart
  • Daily time hearing the heart of the one you love
  • Ability to cry easily and together at emotional moments
  • A sensitivity to know immediately when feelings are hurt
  • Understanding each other's dreams and goals
  • Closeness of the heart and soul

What men mean by intimacy:


One of the reasons men may be more focused on physical closeness is that men aren't as sensitive to physical touch as women are.


In other words, it takes more physical touch to meet a man's physical needs. In the same way that a woman has twice the daily word count, a man has twice the need for physical stimulation.


The point is this: Women often feel unloved because their emotional needs aren't being met and in the same way, men often feel ignored because their physical needs aren't being met.

I think the problem is clear at this point: Guys have trouble with true emotional intimacy.

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Are you unable to understand the number of underlined link words within this page so far? I'm hoping so!
In order to be able to understand the number of underlined link words within each page - make sure that you read the article directly to the left. This will tell you the importance of gaining control or mastery over your emotions and feelings. Emotions and feelings aren't just "girl stuff" or things "chicks" like to talk about.
What's important to realize is that all of the underlined link words relate directly to your emotions and feelings. It's this often that we use emotion and feeling words in our daily life, but we don't realize it. We're not aware of how important and directly connected we all are to our emotions and feelings without ever being educated about them.
Emotions and feelings touch every part of our lives. If we don't educate ourselves about them we will be unable to be intimate - understanding or in control of our daily lives. Emotions and feelings are so essential to our happiness that we must take the time to learn about them. Clicking on the words will take you to a new page that talks directly about the word you clicked on.
Don't understand anger although you feel angry regularly? It's time you learn about anger and how it is affecting your life. Afraid of feeling sad? Learn about it! Sadness has a value and learning to appreciate the value of sadness will only enhance your understanding of joy! Take your life to a higher level of quality by understanding the importance of how you are connected to your emotions and feelings.
Learning about becoming more aware of your emotions and feelings and being mindful of what is happening in your present moment will change your life dramatically in a positive direction.

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newborn feelings

Newborn Feelings

author unknown


We'll look at the theory of emotional development before further discussion of the purposes for our feelings. Newborn babies feel emotions and some would agree they babies have emotions before birth.


In short, we express emotions at the time of birth. Babies don't understand their emotions; but they quickly learn that certain behaviors evoke certain responses from other. 


Do infants know the differences between emotions? They probably do but can't use words to express these differences.  Babies want to feel loved and accepted. If someone loves and accepts a baby, they help to assure the baby’s survival.


Even before we can seek love and acceptance, we must survive. This implies that sometimes a baby’s need for survival overwhelms her need for acceptance.


The baby has no means of expressing her survival needs except by crying or yelling. The people around the baby may not respond to her cries with love and acceptance, but will likely feed her.


Depending on the feedback she receives, she may experience confusion, frustration and other emotions without understanding them; but she gets what she needs to survive: food.

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Let’s assume that at the moment of birth, a newborn is fully aware all emotions but can't understand or express them. Since babies have no worldly experience, they may have no need for an unconscious or subconscious.


There is no one single definition for the unconscious and/or subconscious in literature. I'll use these terms interchangeably in this discussion, but some authors differentiate between them.


For our discussion, I'll use a definition for unconscious from Webster’s New World Dictionary, which is, the sum of all thoughts, memories, impulses, desires, feelings of which the individual isn't conscious but which influence his emotions and behavior.


As the conscious and unconscious develop, a child receives feedback from his environment in many ways. They learn the relationship between actions that gain rewards and those that evoke punishment.


If we want to feel loved and accepted, then we might learn to try to reject parts of our self that don't help us attain these things. As we mature, we may experience many aspects of that our conscious mind can't store; in this case, we need to place some events and experiences out of our conscious awareness.


Therefore, the subconscious develops out of a need for storage for our experiences and emotions. We tend to repress events and emotions that we wish to forget, didn't receive love or acceptance from, or couldn’t understand.


As such, we begin to create an internal hierarchy of emotions and experiences to which we may or may not have immediate access.


Each emotional experience becomes a deposit of energy that we may use or store. The smaller spheres in the unconscious indicate these experiences. The varying size of each sphere shows the relative power or importance of each sphere of our experiences.


If a person wants to keep an experience or emotion out of the conscious mind, he must expend energy to keep it away. In doing this, the need for defenses arises.

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Commonly, we use 1 of 2 ways to defend emotions and experiences that we want to protect. We can use emotions to intimidate other people or other emotions. The other means of defense involves a logical approach that might seek to outwit other emotions and individuals.


We use defenses to guard emotions and to fend off certain experiences.


We also use these defenses to protect us from external attacks. Depending on how the subconscious perceives a threat, it may call on defenses to protect aspects of itself from threats to the structure. Defense tactics will differ from person to person.


As stated earlier, through life events, a person may learn that emotions are bad, wrong and/or weak. Over the years, our conscious mind learns to rely upon logic as a medium for processing communication.


In this manner, if the conscious mind only needs reason, in theory, life should be easier to figure out and deal with.


Emotions may become taboo to the conscious mind. Although the conscious mind may seek to block emotions, it never fully succeeds. This situation is similar to a person standing on the other side of a fence calling you names.


You hear what they say and although you can't see the source of these insults, the words still hurt. You may try to distance yourself from the fence, but you can only go so far, because the fence surrounds you.


In other words, we can't escape our emotion and memories, but we can make every effort to avoid them. It's usually only a matter of time before we have to deal with them, in some capacity.

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Let us continue this fence metaphor. Imagine the individual calling you names felt a strong need to let you know he was there; he may have a difficult time knowing whether you can hear him because he can't see our reaction. 


He may decide to try to tear down the fence. If that doesn't work he may dig a hole under the fence, or set the fence on fire (if he feels desperate enough). Besides these things he may try to find more people to make noise to get our attention.


In relating this to a person, research indicates that people who don't deal with emotions often have other health problems such as heart problems, cancer, etc. The relationship between these factors and repressed emotions is too high to ignore.


We can view this situation as our emotions way of telling our logic-based conscious mind that it's time to listen. It's clear, however, that people fail to listen to these emotions and blame their health problems on things like diet, smoking or genetics.


In order to consider the cause of disease, we need to look at theories about what causes disease. One important theory is The Diathesis-Stress Model of disease. This theory asserts that people contract a disease when they're predisposed and experience an amount of stress that activates the disease.


Without these stressors, or if the strategic group of stressors never occur, then it's less likely that the person will develop the disease. The Diathesis-Stress Model is similar to finding the weakest link in the chain. It doesn't matter how strong all of the other links of the chain are, if there's a single weak link, the chain will break.


The weakest link goes unnoticed unless we stress the chain.


Whether we realize it or not, we often use our emotions to manipulate others. We may use anger to intimidate, sadness to invoke fear, guilt to receive pity. Relationships become troubled when we question the sincerity of the emotions of others.


I've referred to strong vs. weak dichotomies used during conflicts. During a conflict, we use emotions such as anger, rage or even humor to protect our sense of power. It's worth noting that in a conflict, emotions that seem “most powerful” don't appear initially.


If you focus on the expression of these emotions, there is always some display of a weak emotion shortly before the conflict. As such, we see that a protective emotion always appears in the wake of a weaker emotion.


We need to understand the main purpose of these protective emotions; this information may help us to resolve conflicts. Taken further, there are unique features to each emotion that are important to discuss.


Concept of Emotional Identities


We often hear many different “voices” or “opinions” within us at any one time. We shouldn't confuse these “internal voices” with those of schizophrenics.’


The degree, to which these internal voices affect us, as well as the verbal content of the voices, may cover a range of expressions.


At the point where these “voices” interfere with our thoughts or suggest harmful behaviors, they become pathological.


I've developed a theoretical perspective that we all exist within the range of having a single identity to having many identities. If we only contained one identity, then we could expect to respond the same way in similar situations, much as a computer program operates.


We don't respond the same way every time; there are many times that we may do something and wonder why. In such cases, we may feel as if someone else took over and acted in our place. This model is difficult to prove through research.


Since we're all different and may have many several identities, no two people will respond the same way in a research setting. It's likely you've seen books on the “inner child” and other similar titles. In addition to inner children, so, too, could there be adolescents and other identities.


This theory can be used as a model to aid in understanding why we do the things we do, since logic from a single identity model often defies explanation.


Do most adults have more than one identity?


If so, why? Most likely it is because throughout our lives, we repress emotion and experiences. Instead, adults often have many different points of view. The extent an individual isolates his emotion falls somewhere in a range of values.


We use a range of value to indicate a person’s level of emotional disconnection. On this scale, the extreme represents those people with multiple personalities. 

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We call this diagnosis Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.).


Perhaps you've seen movies or books like Three Faces of Eve & Sybil.  These provided examples of a person who has different personalities and the core personality isn't aware of the others. Such a situation is common for people with this condition.


During the periods when an alternate personality assumes control, the person often blacks out and can't recall what happened. Through therapy, the client may learn about the existence of these other identities and how they express themselves. D. I. D. creates some interesting psychological issues.


Some clients with  D. I. D. tend to form some identities that are psychologically adaptive and are very clear cut from other identities. Since the personalities are independent, they don't influence each other.


Looking back at the illustration, let's think about the hierarchical structure of emotions and experiences within the subconscious mind. We'll discuss internal power struggles in more depth in later chapters.


A person’s emotional hierarchy dictates which emotions a person expresses and which ones he/she hides. How do we form these emotional hierarchies?


Often, our interactions with society and family influence these structures. You may find that during a conflict you cast aside your belief system in favor of one more commonly used in society.  So, these events are often influenced by 2 of the dichotomies we mentioned earlier: strong vs. weak and win vs. lose.


We may consider our emotional identities and in doing so, find that they add another dimension to our understanding of complex behavioral and emotional patterns.


From this perspective, we'll examine the purpose of emotion.




In this chapter we've continued to establish a case for why we feel what we and do what we do. Some of these ideas may be difficult for you to swallow, but I ask you to read on with an open mind.


I think that we all can recognize when we've had many different thoughts at the same time, but it might be the case that explaining the idea of emotional identities may be too much. That's up to you to determine.



  1. Can you think of some instances wherein “undesirable emotions” served their purpose to your benefit?
  2. Do you recall situations that led you to make an effort to reject your feelings in favor of logic in order to maintain control of a situation?
  3. We commonly realize that we have different facets to our personality.  Does it sometimes seem that at various times, different facets become more dominant?  If so, how does it affect your attitude or actions?

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Let the River Flow

Author Unknown


When feelings are present, why not let them flow?


One of the problems with therapy is that many people only get to certain feelings with the support of a therapist. This doesn't work if feelings are ready to be released on a day and time different from one's appointment. I say, let the river flow.


I myself am against pushing feelings out. Certain therapies access strong feelings through breathing exercises, pounding, or standing in certain physical postures. This could be helpful if a person needs to access feelings and can't reach the feelings on their own.


i.e., someone might be unable to cry and mourn a death. In such a case, any approach that helps the person release these feelings will be a relief.


For a more regular self-maintenance program, it can be helpful to express feelings as they arise naturally. Have a bad day at work? Find a way to consciously release those feelings, rather than taking them out on yourself, at the local bar, or on your spouse or child or dog.


Give yourself a therapy session at home - go to your private space and let loose with whatever wants to come out. This is also a useful tactic during a fight. Let's say you're really in a terribly upset mood with your partner and just about to explode.


Why not assess for a minute if this is really what you want to do. Are the feelings with your partner, or are they perhaps with someone else, or with yourself?


Are they leftover feelings from last night's dream? If so, why not release them yourself?


At home we're lucky to have a separate space where I see clients. I have saved myself a lot of relationship grief by giving myself a session in that room. It's also soundproof enough that the only ones who hear me are the horses, so I can really let go.

If the feelings are really with our spouse, or with a child or a friend, it's useful to deal with them directly, but it's a relief not to have to work something out with a person if the river isn't flowing that way.

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Crying and Emotional Release in Babies

by Marion Badenoch Rose, PhD

Aware Parenting is a term coined by Aletha Solter, a developmental psychologist who studied with Dr. Jean Piaget in Switzerland before gaining her Ph.D. at the University of California. She is the founder and director of The Aware Parenting Institute (www.aware parenting.com), an international organization with certified instructors in ten different countries. She is recognized internationally as an expert on attachment and non-punitive discipline.  Her books, “The Aware Baby”, “Tears and Tantrums”, and “Helping Young Children Flourish”, have been translated into several languages.

What is Aware Parenting?

Aware Parenting is based on attachment-style parenting, non-punitive discipline, and acceptance of emotional release.

Like other attachment parenting methods, Aware Parenting advocates:natural childbirth and early bonding, plenty of physical contact, breast-feeding, prompt responsiveness to crying, and sensitive attunement.

Solter also recommends non-punitive discipline, including no punishments of any kind (including "time-out" and artificial "consequences"), no rewards or bribes, the search for underlying needs and feelings, Nonviolent Communication, and peaceful conflict-resolution (family meetings, etc.)

However, Aware Parenting is different to some other attachment parenting styles in its approach to crying and emotional release, which is the focus of this article.

Solter’s approach advocates healing of babies’ and children’s stress and trauma through crying and raging in the context of a loving parent/child relationship.  Respectful, empathic listening and acceptance of babies’ and children's emotions is central to this way of parenting.

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Why does your baby cry?

Aware Parenting proposes that when your baby cries, she is either crying to communicate, or crying to heal.  These two reasons for crying ask for very different responses.

When your baby cries to communicate, she needs something immediately, such as holding, food, stimulation, warmth, etc.  Here, your role is to fulfill her need as accurately and promptly as possible.

If your baby is still crying after you have checked her immediate needs, she is probably crying to heal.  There is a general lack of recognition about this type of crying.  Babies cry to heal from emotional or physical hurts or an accumulation of stresses.  Here, your role is to lovingly hold your baby, allowing her to continue crying until she has released her stressful feelings

When parents do not realize that their baby is crying to heal, they try to stop her crying by bouncing, jiggling, rocking, and walking her, feeding her for comfort, (breast, bottle or solids), giving her a dummy, or distracting her.  Her stressful feelings get stored up for another time, and she will keep trying to release that tension at every opportunity - especially when she is tired, when she is frustrated, or when she is lovingly held.

Babies who are prevented from crying to heal may appear contented, but may sometimes have a spaced out expression indicating that they are holding in painful feelings.  They might whine, be hyperactive, wake up frequently, bite, hit, or cry intensely to a seemingly small event.

Aware Parenting is very different from controlled crying or crying-it-out, where parents aim to stop their baby crying by leaving her to cry alone.  Solter suggests that crying alone is a terrifying experience for a baby, which leads to a loss of trust.  She repeatedly states that babies should never be left alone to cry.  If a baby is left to cry, she may develop thumb sucking, spacing out, or over-attachment to a blanket or stuffed animal to help her numb her distressed feelings.

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Sources of stress for infants

Solter recommends aiming to keep stress to a minimum for babies. 

There are several sources of stresses for babies, which fit in the following six categories:

  • prenatal stress
  • birth trauma
  • unfilled needs (e.g. to be held)
  • over-stimulation (e.g. new experiences)
  • developmental frustrations (e.g. wanting to be competent at a new skill)
  • physical pain
  • frightening events (e.g. separation from parents)

Stress and trauma are seen as primary causes of many behavioral and emotional problems if supported release does not occur.  Solter reassures us that it is never too late to help our babies and children heal from stressful events through allowing them to cry and rage with us.

How to respond to a crying baby

First, check your baby’s immediate needs.  In “The Aware Baby”, Solter gives guidelines for distinguishing between a need to cry and other needs.  Medical problems, allergies, and physical discomfort also need to be ruled out. 

If your baby is still crying, you can assume that he is releasing tensions caused by past hurts or stresses. Hold your baby calmly and lovingly whilst he cries, without bouncing or jiggling.  Look into his eyes, talk to him, (e.g. “I’m here with you.”),  and listen to him. 

This gives him emotional safety. Allow him to continue crying for as long as he needs.  Solter recommends never holding your baby for punishment, revenge, or to create submission.  Don’t ever let him cry alone.

After crying to release stresses, babies are often relaxed, calm, alert, and happy, or may fall into a peaceful sleep.

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The physiology of stress and crying

Solter postulates that crying and raging after emotional stress may have evolved to reduce the negative side effects of the fight or flight response.  A biochemist called William Frey has detected certain hormones and neurotransmitters (such as ACT and catecholamines) in tears. 

These help the body prepare for fight or flight in situations of danger.  Afterwards, the remains of these chemicals keep the body in a state of tension and arousal.  Frey suggests that shedding tears when crying stops these chemicals from accumulating, thus preventing deleterious physical and emotional effects.   

The benefits of supported crying

The empathy and unconditional acceptance communicated when you hold your crying baby fosters her healthy attachment, self-esteem, and self-acceptance. 

Babies who regularly release stresses are generally calm, content, cooperative, and alert, with little whining or fussing. They often sleep at night for longer periods than other babies. 

Fears and phobias may be prevented when a baby is allowed to cry in a supported manner soon after a frightening or traumatic event. 

Allow your baby to heal from early stresses and traumas and she will probably have more attention for learning.  On the other hand if there is a high level of accumulated tensions in her body, it may be harder for her to concentrate, learn new things and think clearly.  

Allowing your baby to express her feelings freely whilst holding and supporting her may also lead to later emotional and physical wellbeing, and an intact ability to heal from stresses throughout her whole life.

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Control patterns

When a baby is repeatedly prevented from crying to heal, he learns to repress his strong emotions and crying with this same method.  This behavior becomes repetitive or compulsive, and is known as a control pattern.  Control patterns are usually well-established by six months of age. 

Control patterns include:

  • frequent feeding for comfort rather than hunger
  • dummy sucking
  • thumb sucking
  • excessive clinging
  • attachment to a special blanket or toy
  • constant demands for entertainment or distraction
  • hyperactivity
  • self-rocking
  • head-banging

These methods only postpone the crying, putting the baby into a kind of trance-like state, where he dissociates from, or numbs, the feelings, but does not release them. 

Once a control pattern is in place, responding accurately to a baby’s needs becomes more complex.  For example, if a baby is given the bottle every time he cries, he will soon learn to ask for the bottle when he is upset, as well as when he is hungry.  His request for the bottle seems like a need for milk every time.  This control pattern can lead to frequent feeding and night-waking in older babies.

Control patterns become hard to change unless the parents or caretakers lovingly allow and accept their baby’s crying.  Then the control patterns can disappear, often quite quickly.  

Alternatively, these control patterns continue into adulthood, for example when we avoid our feelings by eating, drinking, smoking, or watching TV.  When control patterns are used to protect ourselves from traumatic feelings, they are possibly the precursors of addictions to food, alcohol, and drugs. 

We often pass on our own control patterns to our children.  For example, if we tend to eat to repress our feelings, we are likely to feed our baby every time he cries.

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How to help your baby sleep through the night (without ignoring them)

When a baby is tired she has less energy to repress her feelings and so will cry more readily.  Encouraging her to continue this release is the recipe for a restful night’s sleep.  If she has already released her tensions during the day, she will fall asleep simply by being held.

A baby who has pent up feelings finds it difficult to fall asleep even when she is tired. She resorts to control patterns to distract her from her tension long enough to fall asleep.  Chances are that she will not sleep well because the emotions are still lurking just below the surface.

Young babies commonly wake up hungry more than once during the night. However, frequent night waking in babies over six months old is most likely caused not by hunger, but by the need to relieve stress with a cry. 

Solter recommends not using a control pattern to put your baby to sleep, i.e., not feeding, rocking, singing, jiggling, or using distractions.  Instead, you can hold your baby lovingly, reassure her, and give her your full attention so that she can cry if she needs to. 

After crying, she will relax and fall into a comfortable sleep in your arms. She will also learn to distinguish between when she is tired, hungry, or feeling upset.     

If your baby over six months old wakes for a second time in the night, you can hold her and offer her a drink or snack rather than the breast or bottle.  If she is not hungry, thirsty, or simply needing closeness, she needs to release.  Hold her in your loving arms.  She will cry out her remaining tensions and fall into a deep satisfying sleep.

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My experience with Aware Parenting

I researched alternative sites for birthing and parenting, and found many references to Solter’s work.  I felt intrigued, especially reading reviews of her books, such as:

"This book is so important, for the health of our children and our society, that ... I am recommending it to every professional and parent that I know." William R. Emerson, Ph.D. (Pioneer in infant and child psychotherapy)

“... Tears and Tantrums. This book needs to be in every library... The information therein will free families of emotional trauma in order to journey through life's challenges together in trust."
Jeannie Parvati Baker (Midwife and author of Prenatal Yoga and Natural Birth)

After reading and rereading Solter’s books and practicing her methods, I feel as passionate about Aware Parenting as these authors do!    

I read “Tears and Tantrums” whilst I was pregnant, yet for the first 3 months after my daughter Lana was born I never let her cry.  Whenever she began to cry my own feelings of distress would get triggered, and I would feed her immediately. 

When I look back I see that I fed her even when she needed to cry to release stored feelings.  I fed her for hours in the evening, even though she fussed, repeatedly came on and off the breast and frequently threw up.  These are the kind of signals that a baby may give when she is needing to release accumulated tensions.   

When Lana was 3 months old, I started letting her cry in my arms when I thought she needed to heal from daily stresses.  The first few times I felt really worried that she might be hungry, even if she had recently had a long feed. 

However, I soon felt comfortable when the beneficial effects became clear.  Before crying she was tense and avoided eye contact, and afterwards she was deeply relaxed and would gaze blissfully into our eyes. 

After a cry she was more content and slept more peacefully and for longer periods.  She would have a cry every evening for between 15 minutes and an hour.  However, I still sometimes felt confused about distinguishing her hunger from her need to cry, and so feeding was still a control pattern for her. 

When she was seven months old, I reread The Aware Baby and took Solter’s advice about breast feeding on both sides at each feed.  Lana started going for longer between each feed, and then I felt more confident differentiating between when she was hungry and when she needed to cry. 
She stopped being sick and only woke up once during the night.  A few months later she began sleeping all the way through.

Lana is now 18 months old and has a cry most days, often before she goes to sleep.  She sometimes goes for a few days without crying, such as when we go out a lot.  At those times she shows an accumulation of tensions - at night she becomes unsettled and fidgety, sometimes waking up, and during the day she is less contented and more frustrated. 

I joined an Aware Parenting web list when Lana was about 8 months old, and a month later I started a local weekly support group for other mums who were putting Aletha Solter’s methods into practice.

Finding out more

If you feel interested in this way of parenting, I recommend reading one of Solter’s books first.  See the reviews below to find out which one would suit you the most.  I also suggest reading one of her books before joining the web group.  You can join by going to www.awareparenting.com and following the links.


Frey, II,  W.H. and Lang Seth, M.  (1985)  Crying:  The Mystery of Tears  Winston Press.

Solter, A. (2001)  The Aware Baby (revised edition)  Shining Star Press  ISBN 0-9613073-7-4
I recommend this book for pregnant mums (and dads) and parents of young babies, as it has chapters on pregnancy, birth, and attachment, as well as feeding, sleeping, crying and playing. 

Solter, A.  (1998)  Tears and Tantrums  What to Do When Babies and Children Cry Shining Star Press  ISBN: 0-9613073-6-6
Describes the purpose of crying and raging from birth to eight years of age, and how best to respond. 

It includes: helping babies sleep better (without ignoring them); helping children heal from stress and trauma; increasing children’s attention span and intelligence; improving children’s self-esteem and emotional health; reducing children’s violent behaviour and hyperactivity; and strengthening the parent/child bond. 

Solter, A. (1989)  Helping Young Children Flourish  (Two to eight years of age)  Shining Star Press  ISBN: 0-9613073-1-5 
Focuses on the emotional needs of children from two to eight years.  It provides insights to help you understand your child, maintain a close, loving relationship, and cope with day-to-day problems.  It includes chapters on tears and tantrums, fears, learning, playing, conflicts, friendships, and eating.

This article first appeared in Byron Child magazine www.byronchild.com in 2003.

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unable to trust in relationships
Click on the word, "trust" to open the trust page at feeling emotional, 5 where you can read about trust.

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Sometimes we are in a relationship and can't trust the other person or the other person is unable to trust -

A narcissistic individual is unable to trust others but relies on others to be a mirror which reflects back to him his unrealistic perception of his accomplishments, brilliance, talent, and beauty. A narcissistic individual has a fragile sense of self. To strengthen his sense of self he depends on other's admiration and constant attention. He expects other's to covet his possessions and he is constantly seeking compliments. Thus the narcissist develops numerous, shallow relationships to extract tributes from others.

Because a narcissistic individual has a shifting morality - always ready to shift values to gain favor - any interaction with a narcissist is difficult. Narcissists are self-absorbed and have no interest in anyone other than themselves. Their tendency is to form friendships or romantic relationships with only those that can enhance their self-esteem or advance their purposes.

A narcissistic individual has a basic sense of inferiority although if you listen to him talk you would never realize it. A narcissist presents a false self to the world. Under his inferiority is a preoccupation with fantasies of outstanding achievement, ideal love, and an aimless orientation toward superficial interests. The narcissist uses others to aid him in any tasks he undertakes and will frequently take credit for work which others have done.

The narcissistic individual may be more successful at his chosen field of work than some of the other personality disorders. This is because his work can be advantageous to the narcissist especially if it provides narcissistic supply.

Lying is an integral part of the narcissist's behavior and all their self-reports are unreliable. His cognition is impaired to the extent that he frequently misinterprets other's speech, actions, and thoughts. He may believe that someone respects or loves him although this is a fantasy which exists only in the mind of the narcissist .

Narcissists will over inflate their own accomplishments, are boastful, and pretentious. They frequently will compare themselves to people of great accomplishments and are surprised when others do not agree with them. In fact, it is not unusual for the narcissist to compare himself with God.

Although he may attempt to impress others with knowledge and decisiveness, a narcissistic person's information base is often limited to trivia. His ideas are seldom original. He chooses to quote whoever he feels at the time is an authority, however, the narcissist's quotations may not be accurate as to what the chosen authority meant. The narcissist makes his own interpretations to best suit his whim. People other than the narcissist may wonder why he picked that individual as an authority since no true validation may exist the individual is an authority.

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He also feels that people of high status can only understand him and he often assigns special, gifted, or unique qualities to the people with whom he associates. He will insist that he has the best doctor, lawyer, etc., available, and will assign non-factual accomplishments to that individual to prove the validity of his claims.

A narcissistic individual displays beliefs and behaviors that indicate a sense of 'specialness' or 'uniqueness.' He expects favorable treatment from others and wants automatic compliance with his requests. For instance he does not feel he should be made to wait in line and expects to be the center of attention. He is mystified when he does not get what he wants. If an individual disappoints him then he will devalue that person.

A narcissist demonstrates a lack of empathy towards others and this causes him to treat others like objects. He does not see others as human beings, but sees them as objects that have no feelings or needs. His sense of entitlement leads to his exploitation of others and this results in little guilt or remorse.

A narcissistic injury occurs when someone defeats or criticizes the narcissistic individual. The narcissist may not show it outwardly, but he is haunted by criticisms and defeats. Therefore, the narcissist does have emotions. The narcissist, however, does not relate to his emotions as others do because he represses his emotions so deeply that they play no conscious role in his behavior.

But, these repressed emotions unconsciously play a large part in determining his behavior. When a narcissistic injury occurs, the narcissist begins to feel empty, degraded, and humiliated and he is capable of retaliating with narcissistic rage. His reactions constitute disdain or defiant attacks.

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Characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy which begins by early adulthood and is present in differing contexts within a person's life.

A narcissistic individual is grandiose in their sense of self-importance and exaggerates their achievements and talents. He expects to be recognized as superior without achieving any great accomplishments.

A narcissistic individual is preoccupied with fantasies of his brilliance as well as his unlimited success or power. He fantasizes about beauty or ideal love.

A narcissistic individual believes that he is "special" or "unique." He feels that he can only be understood by or should associate with other special or high status people.

A narcissistic individual requires excessive admiration and is on a constant search for admiration.

A narcissistic individual has a sense of entitlement. He has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment and expect others to automatically comply with his wishes.

A narcissistic individual takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends and uses others without regards to the feelings of others.

A narcissistic individual lacks empathy and does not identify with the feelings or needs of others.

A narcisstic individual is envious of others and believes that others are envious of him.

A narcissistic individual shows arrogant or haughty behaviors or attitudes and does not care who he offends.

The above information came from an unknown source on the Internet at this address: http://worldsworstevildoer.com/Documents/Narcissists.pdf

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Title: Divorce and Sex

Author: Maxine Cohen, M.F.T.

When I was first asked to write on the topic of sexuality during divorce, I declined. I'm not in favor of that so why would I write about it? But then I got to thinking, "Why not?" since, as we all know, sex has always been a fact of life and is here to stay. So I thought it might be helpful of me to offer my own two cents worth of common sense and professional expertise on this loaded subject.

The bottom line is, while you're divorcing (unless it drags on for years and years) and especially newly divorcing, it is my opinion that it's best if sex is left out of the relationship.

Why is that?

That's because divorce is such a devastating life passage that people's hearts are gravely wounded and they have too little equilibrium and self-support to be in another complicated relationship at the same time.

Just as you would naturally protect a serious sore on your body from further harm, so, too, your heart. A wounded heart takes care of itself by refusing to let anyone close and being unable to trust. So there's great emotional and psychological distance in relationships that form too soon after the marital separation. It may not feel like lots of distance; typically the divorcing person literally falls into the lover for life support and sustenance. But the new union is frequently off again, on again, and both people are unable to commit in any real and lasting way.

Quite often , people leaving a marriage yearn for someone to love them wholly and unconditionally. Their heart has been ripped wide open from the deprivation of long years of living with a spouse who they feel criticized rather than loved them, from the pain of leaving the marriage or being the one who got left, and they are dying to find a person who will love them unconditionally and fill the gaping void inside.

They're alone and lonely, psychologically if not in reality. And they are falling apart emotionally. Jumping into a new love relationship can be a way of self-medication, of easing the pain of marital loss, just as if they were taking a drug that calmed anxiety.

It can all get very mixed up. For some people, sex is an analgesic. It's numbing and soothing. For some, it's a catch-all; all emotional needs get bundled together and labeled "sex." The need to feel good about yourself, to feel desirable, to feel lovable and loved, to be comforted and close, to stroked and touched and held, all get lumped together and satisfied by "having sex."

This is true for both sexes but it is far more prevalent with men. As a result of their socialization, men have traditionally had difficulty allowing themselves to feel and express the softer emotions. It's manly and macho and definitely okay to want to have sex. It's less okay, and downright not okay for some men still, to be so "weak": as to want to be held, comforted, soothed, or petted.

Having sex may work in the moment but it will not have any lasting effect on bolstering up your self-esteem or calming your anxiety. In fact, it ups the ante in the relationship, especially for the woman, and complicates greatly both people's ability to learn to trust again in a new relationship.

According to the 1996 Census, half of America's adult population is single. That's 77 million people and it's bound to get higher when the 2000 Census is completed. The fastest growing segment of the single population is people who have divorced. There is a wonderful book by Tina Tassina, PhD, titled The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again, which gives intelligent and detailed information on not only how to negotiate the single world but on how to create and maintain healthy relationships. I wholly recommend it.

Dr. Tassina suggests several ways to meet people without hanging out in bars. One good way is to go to a group that has a focus. It's easier to talk to people when there is a reason that you've come together. Talk about the theme or particular activity. Go to events that you are truly interested in so that you can lead your own life while at the same time hoping to meet people who share your interests.

Pay attention to what the other person is about and what you think of him/her instead of being wholly wrapped up in trying to make a good impression yourself. Watch to see if he/she is interested in learning about you rather than talking constantly about him/herself.

It is important early on to set the tone of the relationship. Hopefully the two of you will be able to support talking about who you are together and what that means rather than silently guessing, wishing. or making assumptions. The Talmud teaches wisely, "We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are." The things that occur between us can have very different meaning depending on how you see the world and what you want.

So try to minimize misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and unmet hopes and expectations by having what Tina calls"state of the union" meetings. "How do you feel about the way we get along? this is what I want.What do you want?"

Include such topics as how often should we see each other, how many phone calls are too many, do we date exclusively and if so exactly what does that mean?

This leads to what Dr. Tassina calls the "it means what?"  discussions. For instance, what does having sex mean? Will we be monogamous? Will we date only each other? Are we committed?

Be willing to discuss the hard stuff, especially sex. Don't just let sex happen because you had too much to drink or you didn't see it coming. A good rule of thumb is that if you can't talk about beforehand, don't do it. Especially in regard to sex, feelings get more tender afterward, so it'll be even harder to talk then. And if you're going to have sex, use your head and use protection. A latex rubber condom is your best protection against HIV and it'll prevent pregnancy as well.

Yes, he/she told you he/she has been celibate for months. Yes, you believe him/her. Still, use protection unless the safe period has been at least 6 months and then get an HIV blood test. Yup, you read it right! It takes 6 months from the date of exposure for the antibodies to HIV to form.

So be cautious. Be safe. Be respectful of yourself and your partner. Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you and treat others the way you want to be treated. This is the surest way to build a new relationship for yourself, post-divorce, that is nourishing, loving, and works.


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What Everyone Needs to Know about Extramarital Affairs...and what you can do to help
By Dr. Robert Huizenga
Recent statistics suggest that 40% of women (and that number is increasing) and 60% of men at one point indulge in an affair. Put those numbers together and it is estimated that 80% of the marriages will have one spouse at one point or another involved in an affair.

That may seem like a very steep number. However after two decades plus of full time work as a marriage and family therapist, I don’t believe that number is off the charts. I worked with a great number of people involved in affairs who were never discovered.

The possibility that someone close to you is or soon will be involved in an extramarital affair (any of the three parties) is extremely high.

Maybe you will know. You will see telltale signs. You will notice changes in the person habits and behavioral patterns as well as a detachment, lack of focus and reduced productivity. Maybe you will sense something “out of character” but be unable to pinpoint what it is.

It is not a given that he/she will tell you. Those hiding the affair will continue to hide. The “victim” of the affair often, at least initially, is racked with anger, hurt, embarrassment and thoughts of failing that preclude divulging the crisis.

It might be important to confront the person with your observations, depending on the status of your relationship with the person.

It is important to understand that extramarital affairs are different and serve different purposes.

Out of my study and experience with hundreds of couples I’ve identified 7 different kinds of affairs.

Briefly, some affairs are reactivity to a perceived lack of intimacy in the marriage. Others arise out of addictive tendencies or a history of sexual confusion or trauma.

Some in our culture play out issues of entitlement and power by becoming “trophy chasers.” This “boys will be boys” mentality is subtly encouraged in some contexts.
Some become involved in an affair because of a high need for drama and excitement and are enthralled with the idea of “being in love” and having that “loving feeling.”

An affair might be for revenge either because the spouse did or did not do something. Or the revenge may stem from rage. Although revenge is the motive for both, they look and feel very different.

Another affair serves the purpose of affirming personal desirability. A nagging question of being “OK” may lead to usually a short-term and one-person affair. And finally, some affairs are a dance that attempts to balance needs for distance and intimacy in the marriage, often with collusion from the spouse.

The prognosis for survivability of the marriage is different for each. Some affairs are the best thing that happens to a marriage. Others serve a death knell. As well, different affairs demand different strategies on the part of the spouse or others. Some demand toughness and movement. Others demand patience and understanding.

The emotional impact of the discovery of the affair is usually profound. Days and weeks of sleeplessness, rumination, fantasies (many sexual) and unproductively follow. It typically takes 2 – 4 years to “work through” the implications. A good coach or therapist can accelerate and mollify the process. I don’t recommend “marriage” counseling, at least initially.

The devastating emotional impact results from a couple powerful dynamics. Trust is shattered – of one’s ability to discern the truth. The most important step is NOT to learn to trust the other person, but to learn to trust one’s self. Another is the power that a secret plays in relationships. THE secret exacts an emotional and sometimes physical toll that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with.

How can you help?

Those in the midst of their affair crisis told me they need this from you:

1. Sometimes I want to vent, get it out without censor. I know sometimes I will say what I shouldn't be saying. It may not be nice, pretty or mild. Please know that I know better, but I need to get it off my chest.

2. Every so often I want to hear something like, “This too shall pass.” Remind me that this is not forever.

3. I want to be validated. I want to know that I am OK. You can best do that by nodding acceptance when I talk about the pain or  confusion.

4. I want to hear sometimes, “What are you learning? What are you doing to take care of yourself?” I may need that little jolt that moves me beyond my pain to see the larger picture.

5. I may want space. I may want you to be quiet and patient as I attempt to sort through and express my thoughts and feelings. Give me some time to stammer, stutter and stumble my way through this.

6. I want someone to point out some new options or different roads that I might take. But before you do this, make sure I am first heard and validated.

7. When they pop into your mind, recommend books or other resources that you think I might find helpful.

8. I want to hear every so often, “How's it going?” And, I may want this to be more than an informal greeting. Give me time and space to let you know exactly how it IS going.

9. I want you to understand and welcome the ambivalent feelings and desires. I would like you to be fairly comfortable with the gray areas and the contradictions about how I feel and what I may want.

10. I want you to be predictable. I want to be able to count on you to be there, listen and speak consistently or let me know when you are unable to do that. I will honor that.

Affairs are powerful. Affairs are costly. They affect family, friends, colleagues and employers. Affairs are also an opportunity – to redesign one’s life and love relationships in ways that create honor, joy and true intimacy.

Author's Bio:
Dr. Huizenga is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years of professional experience, working with hundreds of couples and thousands of individuals. He has done extensive research and study in the specialty area of extramarital affairs.

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Freedom From The Horse
By Royce Gomez
Aug 19, 2008

Because I learned so much about myself and about relationships, I’d like to share my first experience of training a horse with you. One evening I was at the fair with my family. Walking past one of the areas, I saw a sign for a horse to be given away in a drawing. I already had horses; but, figured if it were free, I could add one more to the herd!

Well, the drawing was over 15 minutes before I got there. The lady kindly told me there were 25 other non-broke, untouched mustangs that were being auctioned off. That got my curiosity up. My husband decided the whole family would come see these mustangs. Well, they were gorgeous! Untamed, free-spirited, beautiful, and afraid! What a sight! The longer we stayed, the more we were entertaining the idea of bidding on one.

After all, they were beautiful (and the price was right). Three minutes before the bidding ended our name was the only one on the sheet for a red dun, 2 year old mare. At that point my heart was pounding. I realized we just bought a horse! Not just any horse; this one was afraid of humans. We named this pretty, scared, young red dun after a pretty, scared, young red-headed orphan girl we had met that summer, Ruby. So Ruby came to live with us. (The horse, not the human.)

What do you do when you have a 20 acre pasture and a horse that won’t come near you? Well, my husband went to work building a pen and I spent lots of time in the pasture hoping Ruby would decide to come close. After about a week, I wasn’t getting very far. So I began to put food and water in the pen and read any natural horsemanship training book I could get my hands on.

There was some success in the pen; but, there was still a chance of getting stuck in a corner with a horse that was still very much afraid. So I picked up a step-by-step John Lyons book and watched horse trainers on TV. I decided my best bet was to put feed in a round pen, let Ruby wander in to eat, and then lock her up. After she had time to eat, I’d go out and work on each step until it was accomplished.

Sometimes that would take one session, other times we’d be on one step for a week. Having never trained a horse before, many times I was just a nervous as Ruby was. It was a couple of months before I finally touched her. During those months of building that relationship, I learned many things. To build a relationship with someone who doesn’t trust you takes patience and risk.

I put my heart on the line as I sat out there asking Ruby day after day to trust me enough to touch her. With each step closer to one another, it took being willing to allow the other one to get comfortable in the other’s space. For me it also meant learning how to communicate in a different language. I had to learn to speak like a horse to ask her to move closer or move away. The first touch was brief; but, made it all worth it. That first touch also allowed Ruby to see that I wasn’t going to hurt her.

The next step was to get Ruby to stand still long enough to be petted. Apparently, the time I’d spent with Ruby before that first touch paid off because getting her to stand still was a quicker process. It was exhilarating and rewarding to see a wild animal put its trust in the hands of a human. It reminds me of a victim of domestic violence that has to learn to trust again after someone has caused them so much pain.

The wild had caused Ruby to have many fears, especially of death, anger, and physical harm. These fears are very similar to someone who has been a victim of violence or sexual abuse. Once that trust was established between Ruby and I though, it was like an unbreakable bond.

Her eyes softened, her body language softened, and she was quicker to approach me. This is the healing that takes place in humans as they re-establish trust in positive relationships. After this stage, I began introducing strange objects: brushes, blankets, plastic bags, etc. This required a greater degree of trust on Ruby’s part.

This also required that I have patience once again. I could not assume that just because she accepted my hand, that she would accept other objects without investigation. As I would show Ruby an object first from say, 4 feet, we both had to learn to overcome fear. If at anytime she felt that that object was a threat, Ruby would turn quickly to run.

I would suddenly see a very large animal’s hindquarters which were strong enough to send me flying across the arena if she kicked out as she ran away. When you are able to be kicked by an 800 pound animal, you must have focus, know your boundaries, have some faith, and be willing to move quickly to put yourself in safety.

There are many times in life we need to use these same skills. Some psychological issues that these skills need to be strengthened or established to overcome are: ADD, OCD, abuse, addictions, self-mutilation, learning and processing disorders, and general problem-solving skills for productivity. I was made much more aware of these during the training process with Ruby. These skills help bring emotional healing and self-acceptance.

After Ruby had accepted all the foreign objects and allowed herself to be touched everywhere by human hands, we had to begin the process of getting her to accept a rider. To begin that process, I started asking her to stand still while I threw a blanket on her back.

Because mustangs are attacked in the wild from above by mountain lions and wolves, this took a lot of trust and willingness on Ruby’s part. On my part, once again, I was learning. As I threw the blanket up again and again and Ruby would keep running away from it, I had to learn perseverance.

In life sometimes things don’t go the way you planned the first time. You must fail again and again. But, failure is part of success. Each failure takes you one step closer to success. This process also strengthened my communication skills with Ruby because as a mustang her fear of something on her back was larger than a domesticated horse.

Our mutual trust increased. My patience increased. My ability to work on a relationship and think of someone else above myself increased. But, day by day, Ruby allowed me to go a bit farther and put blanket and saddle on her back a bit longer. She became comfortable with the weight of the saddle on her back and allowing me to run her around with the saddle.

Another area where a horse is very concerned is allowing their feet to be picked up. Horses are flight animals; therefore, their first instinct is to run if they sense danger. Therefore, if you take their foot, they can’t run and become very nervous. Ruby’s feet were beginning to grow and need attention from the farrier; but, I was unable to get her to hold her feet up long enough to have a farrier come out to trim her. This is another area of trust and patience.

This time, we invited a third party in to help us. One person would hold the lead rope to keep Ruby somewhat still, and another person would keep asking her to hold her foot up for longer periods of time. When someone is unable to run from a problem or a relationship, they must learn effective, productive coping skills. This is another one of life’s lessons.

Now for the final task! It’s time to get on Ruby’s back! For months now I have asked Ruby to trust me, telling her I would take care of her. Now it’s my turn to trust her, allowing her to take care of me. Well, because of the long process of relationship building, I got on and nothing happened. Ruby just stood there. If you’ve ever heard a horse story, you’ve heard of people who have ridden a horse until it quit bucking.

Well, my experience was very uneventful. So the first session, I got on and off several times without asking Ruby to move. This showed her that it was OK, and not something to fear. Someone who has experienced deep trauma needs you to be like this, taking time and asking for baby steps as they learn to trust again.

I have to share the ending of this story with you. Through the process of training Ruby, which you’ll recall was a totally new experience for me, I learned about myself, others, and relationships. Ruby learned much, too. So today, she is with me and soon turning 6 years old. She is my favorite horse. Even though many horses will come and go in my life, Ruby and I will always have a special bond.

And when Ruby is gone, I’ll always be able to use the lessons she taught me to be a better person, heal as life brings me new challenges, and draw on the character qualities that I learned as I trained my beautiful, scared, free-spirited red head! Ruby wants you to know she is still beautiful and free-spirited.

Written by Royce Gomez, owner of Pillar Ranch, who resides with her family and herd in beautiful Colorado.
Royce Gomez can be reached at www.PillarRanch.com 

Author's Bio

Royce Gomez has worked full-time in the equine field for the last 7 years. Royce has a husband and 2 children, as well as numerous pets. Professionally, Royce conducts personal and professional development workshops using horses to facilitate experiential learning sessions.
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unable to deal with, recognize, identify, or process anger
If you haven't been allowed to experience your feelings throughout your childhood, perhaps you don't even know what anger feels like. How can you manage an emotion or feeling that you don't even recognize? Learning about anger will help you to recognize and identify it when you are feeling it. I recommend clicking on the word, "anger" to read the information within the anger page as well as this information here.

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Myths About Anger


In Co-Dependent No More, Melody Beattie lists several assumptions that keep people from expressing their anger.


They include:

  • It's not okay to feel angry.
  • Anger is a waste of time and energy.
  • We shouldn't feel angry when we do.
  • We'll lose control and go crazy if we get angry.
  • People will go away if we get angry at them.
  • Other people should never feel anger toward us.
  • If others get angry at us, we must have done something wrong.
  • If other people are angry at us, we made them feel that way and we're responsible for their feelings.
  • If we feel angry, someone else made us feel that way and that person is responsible for fixing our feelings.
  • If we feel angry at someone, the relationship is over and that person has to go away.
  • If we feel angry at someone, we should punish that person for making us feel angry.
  • If we feel angry at someone, that person has to change what he or she is doing so we don't feel angry any more.
  • If we feel angry, we have to hit someone or break something.
  • If we feel angry, we have to shout and holler.
  • If we feel angry at someone, it means we don't love that person any more.
  • If someone feels angry at us, it means that person doesn't love us any more.
  • Anger is a sinful emotion. It's okay to feel angry only when we can justify our feelings.

Like all myths, on occasions some of these reasons may have some truth, but most often they don't. However, many of us live as if these are facts.


There are similar assumptions about other feelings, such as:

  • men who cry are weak
  • men shouldn't be scared
  • women shouldn't be too aggressive
  • if you go into your sadness you might not be able to function and so forth

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Positive Effects of Expressing feelings


I have created a summary of positive effects of expressing feelings to balance some of our ideas about negative effects.


Finding a healthy way to express feelings is good for your health and can prevent psychosomatic ailments. There's evidence linking emotional factors to a range of physical problems including:

  • asthma
  • arthritis
  • cancer
  • ulcers
  • allergies and other conditions

One of the most dramatic improvements I've seen was with a woman who came to one of my classes when I first started teaching dream work. She had developed a problem in one of her legs when she was taking her daughter to meet a plane.


Suddenly, she couldn't walk on one leg. She was scheduled for surgery the following week. We worked on her feelings about her daughter and as the anger and hurt came out, her leg suddenly got better.


Another time a man carried his wife, who was a client of mine, into the office.


She was having such terrible back pain she couldn't walk. After releasing a lot of feelings and making some decisions about a job situation, she walked out of the office. Another time I was working with a teenager who was scheduled for surgery for an abdominal problem.


We worked on this symptom. She began pounding on a pillow and letting out incredible rage against her father. That week when she went to the doctor for a pre-surgery exam, the condition was gone and didn't return.


This instant disappearance of a symptom is certainly not the norm - sometimes it takes a very long time for psychological work like this to help move physical symptoms, in cooperation with physicians, chiropractors and other healing practitioners.


Sometimes conditions don't get better at all, but these few cases are powerful enough to point out the positive effects of emotional expression.


Expressing emotions can help make for rich and interesting relationship experiences and emotions are an important part of forming intimate connections. In fact, for many people, being able to freely express their feelings with someone is the turning point in having a deeper connection.


People who can express their emotions free up energy to do other things in life.


Being open with one's feelings is often an important ingredient in accessing one's own creativity.

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expressing emotions

People who're able to express their emotions freely are less likely to become addicted to alcohol or drugs. Many of the addicts I have worked with needed their drugs or alcohol to help them deal or not deal with difficult feelings.


People who can process emotions deal more constructively with  grieving.


Losing people close to you through someone dying or the death of a relationship is difficult for everyone, but people who can feel and express their feelings handle these situations much more effectively than those who can't express them.


Those who process emotions regularly are less prone to emotions coming out in uncontrolled ways, so these people tend to feel more in control of themselves. This is in contrast with people who're without emotionality until they explode in ways that are inappropriate and cause pain and damage in their lives.


Whether it's emotional development, learning to work with dreams, spiritual development, or developing the health of one's physical body, I've found people make incredible progress just by learning to value and give time and energy to the growing aspect of one's life.


Once I was at a conference on different methods of working with symptoms. I noticed all the teachers deferring to the wisdom of one man, Sun Bear, a Native American teacher.


This experience led me to study with Sun Bear and other Native American teachers whose traditions have a tremendous wealth of knowledge in the fields of healing body, mind and spirit. Sun Bear teaches people the importance of keeping emotionally clear. He has a beautiful method that I recommend to everybody.


He tells people to go out, preferably into the forest for privacy, or wherever you feel comfortable in nature and dig yourself a hole in the ground. Then you lay flat on the ground with your head over the hole and scream your feelings and cry and speak whatever needs to come out into that hole.


The final step is to take a seed, place it in the hole and cover it up with dirt, therefore symbolically composting your negative feelings and helping plant something that can grow. I've tried this method and at times have found it very effective.


One time my wife and I were visiting another medicine man who told us that, in his tradition, people go up on in the mountains and scream out all of their pain. These healing traditions have helped people for centuries. The catharsis that goes on in a modern therapist's office is no different than screaming on a mountain.


I find all of these approaches useful and as emotionally repressed as our culture is, any or all of these approaches offer important ways to balance and compensate for too much importance placed on intellectual development and material well-being.


When I first moved to my small town, I met with a doctor who was known for his progressive views. He asked me how I could help some of his patients who were depressed. Most of the people he was talking about worked in the mills.


When I talked with him about helping his patients explore and express the feelings in their depression and then to make life changes based on this work, he looked at me with distress and said "You can't do this with these people."


The doctor believed in the old myth that if people get in touch with their emotional reality, they wouldn't be able to continue in their present lives. He believed that I might help them emotionally, but only at the cost of their lives falling apart.


After several years of working with people in situations similar to the ones he described to me, I find that his concerns were more myth than fact. When people are in touch with their feelings, they have more choices.


They can make wholesale changes in their lives, or incremental changes, or no change at all. They know, though, what they're feeling and this helps them live their lives in ways that give them more satisfaction.


i.e., I'm thinking of a man who told me he didn't like his job. He even knew what kind of feeling the job tended to produce in him that made him want to change jobs. He didn't fall apart and stop functioning.


Instead he made some very intelligent decisions. He decided to keep working, since he had to feed his family, but to remain aware of his unhappiness and begin searching for new job possibilities. He began researching the outer job market and searching in his heart for a career that was really right for him.


There are many stories like this one. People who process their feelings are better employees, not worse ones.


They take fewer sick days and tend to stay with their jobs longer because they don't need to leave just because they have some negative feelings towards the job or their supervisor.

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Dealing With Body-Centered Feelings


Another part of dealing with feelings is to be aware of and find the meaning locked in sensations and feelings in our physical bodies. In process work we call this the proprioceptive channel.


There are several ways to deal with this when working on yourself. One way I've learned is common both to Gestalt work and process work. This is the simple method of feeling and amplifying the feeling.


One way to do this is to get comfortable and start feeling what's happening in your body. When you find something interesting - maybe a tight spot, or a place you feel heat, or an itch, make this feeling happen even more.


If you feel tightness, tighten more. If something itches, focus on the itch. If you feel heat, experiment with letting the heat spread throughout your body. In Gestalt, one just lets whatever happens go along on its own.


In process work, there are some ideas about structure that can guide us. One can try switching channels. If you have a feeling, try making a picture of this feeling, or let the feeling go into movement, or maybe sound. Let the feeling move through all the different channels.


The difficulty with switching channels is why people often get stuck in one form of expression, such as always being angry, or always crying.


People are stuck in one channel - they can hit but not say angry things, they can cry but not talk about their sadness, they can have lots of pictures of confronting someone but not do it.


Another useful concept in inner work is that of the edge.


Let's say you're feeling your body and suddenly you feel an itch. As you focus on the itch, you start to feel a bit sexual and then you get feel like going to make a phone call rather than have that uncomfortable feeling.


This was an edge. Something became uncomfortable or unknown. Experiment with holding yourself at that point, finding out what exactly the edge is, for you. If it's right for you, try going over that edge, having those feelings and finding out what they're about.


I remember one of the most shocking pieces of work I ever did on myself. I started working on myself by just noticing what I was feeling.


Then I started feeling scared and suddenly I started feeling turned on sexually. It felt really uncomfortable and I was about to go read a book to avoid the feeling, but somehow I held myself at this edge. Suddenly I began to feel the most amazing love for all the people of the world, for every human being on this planet.


I was shocked by the intensity of the experience. When we work on ourselves, holding down our edges is important. Uncomfortable feelings will come up and behind these feelings are rich experiences trying to come forth.


You can also work on your physical problems with this same method of meditating on a problem, feeling it and taking it into other channels.


Draw it, sculpt it in clay, or make visual images. Take the symptom into movement, or sound. Sometimes just working in this way can help symptoms improve.


When material is accessed, understood and integrated, whether the original material is a dream, a body symptom, or a relationship problem, the boat starts moving down the river again.


If you want to go even a step further in working with your symptoms, imagine that you weren't the victim but the creator of the symptom.

  • What kind of force are you who is creating the symptom?
  • Are you a monster, a witch, a disciplinarian?
  • What is the meaning behind the symptom?
  • How do you want the part of yourself that is a victim of this symptom to change?

Now you've gone beyond processing the details of the problem; you're picking up the deeper meaning behind your symptom.

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emotions and feelings are natural entities...

When I was a child my parents didn't believe in showing any emotions or feelings. We were taught to present an attitude that everything was "fine" with us at all times. Should we fall down, get hurt or have an argument or fight with a friend or sibling - we were told to stop crying - if in fact we dared to cry - or that we didn't have anything to be angry, hurt or bothered over so we needed to be quiet. My father was famous for reminding us that if we needed something to cry about - he would in fact, give us something to cry about, meaning a spanking for sure.
Because emotions and feelings are a natural part of life, it takes great concentration and conditioning to present the image of always being, "fine." After awhile, you can become quite good at presenting that image, always smiling, able to produce an even disposition, and any deep seated feelings of fear, anger or unhappiness - you would just stuff inside you and forget about it.
I had also been exposed to some physical, verbal and emotional abuse within my extended family. I knew it wasn't right for my uncle to be kicking his kids across the ground, not aiming, just kicking any body part he could reach, while he yelled and humiliated them. He was firm with my aunt to not speak out against his actions and yet he was the nicest man in the world to me. So while I watched him abuse his own children, my own cousins, he was the best uncle in the world to me. This was very confusing as a child and very disturbing to keep inside.
We all have our pasts and things that happened to us in childhood. In my case, I have never known what many of the emotions and feelings felt like - I couldn't identify what I was feeling; leaving me confused, dazed and often just numb. No matter what I was experiencing in my life, I was literally numb for most of it.
Recently I read an article about helping your children to deal with hurt feelings on the "helpless page" and I realized that what I had been feeling for many years while I was literally being destructive with objects that belonged to my ex-husband who was abusive - was anger. There are other emotions and feelings, I'm sure, that I was feeling, but I just didn't know what they were. Now for the first time in fifty years of life, I'm trying to figure out what anger is and how it feels and what to do with it.
Keep this in mind when you begin to feel unable to identify your emotions and feelings. Don't be too hard on yourself and keep an open mind. Learning what we needed to be taught in childhood as adults is extremely difficult. Just take your time and realize that you're making positive progress for a more realistic future. Processing your emotions and feelings is a natural thing and we've been living in a very unnatural way. Give it a shot! That's what I am concentrating on!

The Role of Emotions

by: Erik Fisher  

source site: no longer active 



Emotion has taught mankind to reason.

Marquis de Vauvenargues (1715-1747)



Learning Objectives


Ł     Provide a framework for understanding the purpose of emotions


Ł Discuss the concept of emotional identities and how they affect each of us


Ł  Provide categories of emotions viewed as strong vs. weak


Ł     Explain the value of many emotions


Ive devoted a lot of time to laying groundwork in order to get to this point in the book.


We’ve spent time on power structures, communication patterns, historical perspectives of power and how emotion influences outcomes. 


We’ve looked at dichotomies that often result in an unfounded and often unproductive exchange of emotions. Do you believe that there are any emotions? If it helps, return to the list of emotions and create your own list of emotions that you feel aren’t necessary.


Have you ever asked yourself, “Why am I feeling what I'm feeling? What possible purpose could this feeling have?” Most of us have wondered why we feel as we do.


However, we often forget to ask, “What can I learn from this feeling?” Instead, we often try to hide the emotion or run from it.


Emotions play a fundamental role in life. What do emotions do for our lives?


They help us to form relationships, experience growth and evaluate our performance. Besides that, they prompt us to learn and sometimes prompt us to quit, fight, cry, lie and/or to hide.


A reason for feeling


Did you ever wonder how long a person would live if they couldn't feel fear? Why would someone want to apologize if guilt wasn't present? Why would someone miss the company of others if they couldn't feel sadness?

We couldn’t appreciate life if we couldn’t feel these emotions. Unfortunately, many times we’re unable to pick and choose the emotions we feel, but we try to select how we display them.


I often tell those I teach and counsel that everyone feels all of the same emotions; how we them makes us different. As was discussed in the dichotomy of strong vs. weak, we learn to perceive these emotions differently and depending on how we perceive them, we'll show them differently to others.


Are we a society of manipulators? As I mentioned earlier, we favor rational thought instead of expressing emotion.  We must consider emotions as they pertain to dealing with life issues, but logic is an integral part of that process.


In addition, when emotion enters into the process, it's important to make sure we consider the emotions in balance with logic. Often people try to use logic, or they become carried away with emotion, but they don't seek the balance in understanding that emotion can be a healthy part of an interaction.


Most emotions have a logical place, depending on the situation. If we can consider what the emotions are trying to tell us, then they can often help us to understand how to address the issue.


As a result, instead of responding in a reactive manner, we need to learn how to respond in a proactive manner.


We often speak with logic instead of feeling; we're not vulnerable if we aren't feeling. Through logic, we can mask emotions and defend ourselves from threat. This type of communication exists between children and world leaders alike and at all levels in between.


As such, communication has become a cat and mouse game, sometimes with deadly results. We often mistake arrogance for pride and believe in the nobility of martyrs.


But if we look at these martyrs more closely, we may see that many died out of fear to express their true feelings. It seems that emotions and logic don't mesh well; although it may not want to do so, it may be in your best interest to consider the notion that there could be a logical purpose for each emotion.


Many of the clients I have worked with often feel the fear, shame, sadness and guilt are worthless feelings. They feel that if these emotions didn't exist, they'd be much better off.


Upon further discussion, they often find that they can't do without these emotions. Instead, they realize that they chose to deal with the emotions in an undesirable manner.


If we think about each emotion without clouding our judgment with emotions, we'd be able to see that all our feelings have a purpose.


There are 2 major viewpoints regarding the development of the human race:

  • creationism 
  • evolution

Creationism centers on the belief that our “Creator” made us as we are. Evolutionism asserts that over a long period, we've adapted to our surroundings and became the humans of today.


Perhaps we should think of the development of emotions from these same vantage points. If we believe in creationism, then we more easily accept the idea that all emotions are natural and serve a purpose.


We could then say that our challenge is to understand each emotion and master their meanings. If we believe in the concept of evolution and/or don't wish to consider a divine purpose for our emotion, we may consider that our emotions have also evolved and they've enabled us to survive.

In this case, it makes sense to try to understand the roles they play in our life so that we can see how they may contribute to further growth and evolution.

Emotional Mastery Vs. Control


You may have observed my use of the word "master" in reference to emotion. I discriminate between the terms “master” and “control.” How we view these words and apply them to life can impact our quality of life.


According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, control is defined as: (verb usage) “4. To exercise authority over; direct; commands 5. To hold back; curb; restrain.” (Noun usage) “


1. The act or fact of controlling; power to direct or regulate; ability to use effectively


2. The condition of being directed or restrained”.


The most appropriate definition of the term Master is defined as: (adjective usage)


3. To become an expert in.” I noticed that several of the definitions for the word “master” contain the word “control.” 


But the aspect that makes these words different is what I'd like to focus on, for a moment.  The act of becoming an expert indicates several things.  Words like understanding, appreciation and management seem to lend themselves to the notion of mastery.


In contrast, “control” may cause us to think of a time, place or situation but doesn’t seem to imply understanding or appreciation. It's likely that you know of 2 types of managers in the business world or in social dealings.


One type of manager directs people through mastery of the task at hand and understands the goal; this manager knows and appreciates the talents of the employees he or she manages.


The other type of manager controls or commands and orders his or her employees to do tasks that they may not be skilled to perform.


Businesses want their employees to be happy and productive and above all, to work as a team; management through mastery often accomplishes these objectives.


The need to control often comes from the desire to avoid experiencing fear. There's a simple logic behind having control. If I can control everything around me, I can control which emotions I'll feel and I may avoid feeling fear.


To master our emotions, we must do a few things. We must understand, appreciate and manage the perception and expression of emotions in a manner that is respectful to us and to others.


If we can accept the idea that each emotion exists for a reason, then we can find the value that each emotion can have in our life.  Finding this value may allow us to understand our feelings and express them in more adaptive ways.

The expression of anger doesn't have to involve yelling or violence; sadness doesn't have to involve crying; fear doesn't have to involve hiding or avoiding.

If we listen to what our emotions tell us and understand what our emotions mean, we can respect them and they often fade. But if we ignore what our emotions tell us, our feelings build up and may result in a display of negative behavior.


People sometimes resort to shouting and physical violence if they can't get their point across. Likewise, our emotions may incite the same types of behaviors in us if we ignore them.  


Is it possible to express true feelings without extreme behavior?


If we understand our feelings, we can express them in a rational manner but still convey what we feel. It's important to understand that we can express true emotion without shouting or the threat of violence.


We may associate strong emotion with aggressive words or acts, but don’t confuse these behaviors with the actual emotions. Similarly, simply because a person can state their feelings in calm manner doesn't mean they're insincere.

As this discussion continues, think about true emotion and what true emotions mean.

Learning to Process Emotions 

by Gary Reiss, LCSW


One of the biggest problems that people bring to therapy isn't knowing what to do with a wide range of feelings, including:

Many visits to medical doctors are attempts to deal with feelings unable to be expressed or released.


i.e. imagine a woman getting a divorce. She's in favor of the divorce, but can't stop crying for days. Many men have similar problems after their relationships break up.


Such feeling problems are quite common. Learning how to work with our feelings is a basic area of growth. What does one do with sadness to help it complete itself?


Some somatic problems are actually feeling problems. I once was going through a time of rapid change in my life where I wasn't interested in feeling much in my body, particularly any pain. I just wanted to keep going and not deal with all that was happening.


At that time I went to get some dental work. The dentist made me a crown that was a bit high and my jaw muscles went into terrible spasms. Suddenly, I was in incredible pain, feeling all of the different parts of my life that were painful, not just my jaw.


One night when the pain was the worst, I was supposed to meet some people with whom I had painful relationship issues. They showed up at our house and I had so much pain in my jaw I literally couldn't open my eyes for several minutes.


When we finally talked, all I could focus on was my pain. I began to tell them about my pain - my jaw pain, then all my pain in our relationship. At that point, the jaw pain left and didn't return for months.


A few months later I was avoiding a painful relationship process and my jaw hurt so much that I had to let out my feelings in the relationship and feel them completely.


Again the pain got better. These were body sensations and emotions needing to be felt and released.


There are many ways to help people express their feelings. The simplest thing to say and the most difficult to do is just have them and believe in them. There's definitely a moment of choice when you notice you're having a feeling and then can do something with it.


Imagine that you're feeling sad. What if, instead of turning on the television, you really go into that sadness and feel it in your body. Focus on the physical sensation of sadness. Often this is enough to let the tears flow.


Or let's say that you're feeling scared. You can take a drink, call a friend to avoid these feelings, or really have them and learn about them. How do you experience the fear?


Do you feel hot, cold, do you shake? Can you let yourself shake a little bit? These are simple ways to begin to notice and experience our feelings.

Joy... Love... Calm....

The Perfect Storm

by Verona Rupert


A simple breeze brushes against your face. The sounds of a river flow through your mind. Life seems so simple and you carry on with your everyday life. A life of joy, love and complete calm.

The Storm comes....

Then without any warning or reason the perfect storm forms.


A storm of chaos, confusion and devastation; destroying everything in its path. The storm of depression engulfs you. You can’t stand the whirlwind that has clinched you. Your mind spirals out of control, emotions flowing up and down as if you're on a roller coaster. Thoughts race through your mind at the speed of light.


The emotional highs are like being in a plane. Flying high, free and at high speeds. Emotions’ flying to their highest level and then the descent comes. The nose of the plane diving straight down; anger, agitation and restlessness begins to build as the ground becomes closer. Then the sudden stop of the emotional impact as you hit the lowest point of your life.


Your emotions feel flat; compete darkness comes over you. You can’t move, it’s hard to breath and your vision of life is a blur. Your thoughts feel clouded by a dense fog. The feeling of helplessness drowns you, you feel as if you suffocating. The thought of ending the nightmare overflow your mind. Your heart and emotions have become numb, unable to feel, unable to cry.


Eventually the storm calms and the fog clears. The sun rises beyond the clouds. Life resumes as though nothing has happened, but in the back of your mind you know that another storm is developing. It’s forming its fiery, waiting to unleash its rage upon you. Then the cycle begins once again, taking control, draining you of the very breath you breathe. It cripples and tortures you.


Many say that depression is a matter of self pity but until one has experienced its fiery they'll never understand completely. If one could tame the monster by just telling it to go away or get over it then one wouldn’t be depressed, I'd never wish this on anyone.


Source site: The Perfect Storm

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Crying at Work
Learn to Let Tears Talk

Join the blub: The benefits of crying

We're always told that a good cry will make us feel better. So why not get together and let the tears flow?

By Clint Witchalls
Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Take a look at the self-help section at your local bookshop. You'll find an array of brightly colored books with the word "happiness" on the spine: Twelve Steps to Happiness, Happiness is a Choice, The Happiness Makeover. Everyone wants to be happy. In America, it's a constitutional right - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We're constantly told of the therapeutic value of laughter, but what about crying? There's a Jewish saying: "What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul."

Is there truth in this? The last time Britain saw a mass outpouring of lachrymal secretion was at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, and that was more like mass hysteria than genuine sadness.

Today, we're more interested in chasing the happiness rainbow. We feel that if we're not relentlessly, deliriously joyful, our lives have somehow failed. In the West, laughter clubs are now all the rage. These originated in India in 1995, when a physician who had read about the positive effects of laughter gathered people to stand around and force the chuckles. Soon, London and the rest of the world caught on.

In Japan, however, crying is all the rage. The Japanese call it the "crying boom" - everyone wants a bit of sadness in their lives. Instead of going to a karaoke bar after work to wind down, businesspeople watch weepy films (called "tear films") at these crying clubs. There is also a huge demand for sad TV dramas and books, each graded by its ability to induce tears.

Unfortunately, little research has been done on the benefits of crying. There's something dubious about stimulating tears in people. What do you do; tell them their mother has died, and "can you weep into this test tube, please?" Tough to get that one past the ethical review board.

On the other hand, a lot has been written about the therapeutic value of laughter. It lowers stress-hormone levels, increases levels of some immunoglobulins (antibodies) and lowers blood pressure. Laughter gives the facial, abdominal and back muscles and diaphragm a good workout - which explains why you may ache all over after leaving a comedy club.

But laughter has a dark side. You might think that most asthma attacks are triggered by pollen, dust mites and mold, but you'd be wrong. Laughter is actually the most common trigger, according to a study conducted by Dr Stuart Garay at the New York University medical centre.

If laughter and crying are just two ends of the spectrum of human emotions, why do we elevate one and denigrate the other? The novelist Kurt Vonnegut wrote:

 "Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward."

We can forgive Vonnegut his preference for laughter; he did witness the destruction of Dresden, so he's probably had his fill of misery. But couldn't the rest of us benefit from a few more tears?

By this, I mean emotional tears. There are three types of tears:

  • continuous tears, which stop our eyes drying up
  • reflex tears, caused by irritants such as smoke
  • emotional tears (or "psychogenic lachrymations", the medical term)

The emotion needn't be sadness; people shed emotional tears out of frustration, anger, relief, sometimes even in an aesthetic experience such as the birth of a child or the unveiling of the latest Lamborghini.

We know that crying emotional tears has a social function in that it brings us closer together. We learn as babies that crying draws attention, and that the louder that we cry, the more attention we get.

"Crying is a social tool," says Dr Simon Moore, the academic leader in psychology at London Metropolitan University, "but if it was just a social tool, people wouldn't cry in private. Crying must serve some sort of physiological service."

A few years ago, William Frey II, a biochemist at the St Paul-Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis, found that emotional tears have 24% more protein than reflex tears. Tears aren't just salt water; they contain leucine enkephalin, an endorphin that modulates pain, and hormones such as prolactin and adrenocorticotropic hormone, released at times of stress. Could tears be the body's way of flushing out excess stress hormones?

Research has shown that people suffering from stress-related conditions, such as colitis and ulcers, are less likely to have a positive attitude to crying. Is crying a safety valve? Frey believes it may well be.

In an effort to shed stress hormones, I attended an evening of "misery, melancholy, sadness, absence and loss" at Britain's first crying club, called Loss. The event, in the old wine-cellars of Hedges and Butler, just off Regent's Street in London, is aptly sponsored by Hendrick's gin - gin being the queen of maudlin drinks.

The host, Viktor Wynd, says the idea for the club came from the GŁnter Grass's novel The Tin Drum. Grass's fictional club is called the Onion Cellar. Unlike Grass's club, this one has both music and a bar. In one cellar, a Fado singer belts out a melancholic tune. The crowd look like they're just back from a Victorian funeral.

It's all suitably elegiac - but no one is crying. I ask one punter, Julia, why she is dry-eyed. "I'm not going to cry," she says from behind a long black fringe. "It'll ruin my make-up." So does Julia believe in crying? "A cry is good for everyone... get it out with friends. Boys are learning to get it out too."

At midnight, Viktor produces a set of lethal-looking knives. Like the Onion Cellar in The Tin Drum, we have onions to chop. This may seem like a cheat, but laughing clubs start off with forced chuckles, crescendoing into genuine laughter. You have to kick-start events somehow.

On a table, I chop the greenest onions I can find. Soon, tears are streaming down my face. At the next table, the DJ and club promoter Wade Crescent is busy signing his divorce papers in the presence of a lawyer and an entourage who look like they've stepped off the set of The Addams Family. In the background, a Marlene Dietrich lookalike sings "Falling in Love Again". It's all too beautiful. I feel the tears run down my face... but are they irritant tears or aesthetic tears? I'm not sure.

I soak up the heaviness of the atmosphere, but I notice that very few people are shedding tears. Perhaps we've lost the ability to cry. Grass called the 20th century the "tearless century", but it looks like the 21st might be drier still.

When I mention this lack of public crying to Dr Moore, he says: "Our emotions are culturally bound. There are definitely cultural differences in the way we show emotions. In England, we are quite restricted. We tend not to show the full range of emotions in public because it's not the done thing." Perhaps public crying (except on the football pitch) will never catch on here. But if the famously reserved Japanese can do it, surely we can? Crying is not pathological; it's cathartic, healthy. So come on, cry me a river.

For details of Loss events, go to www.thelasttuesdaysociety.org

The lowdown on lachrymation

* Humans are the only creatures known to shed emotional tears, though it has been suggested that elephants and gorillas might. Other mammals produce reflex and basal tears. Salt-water crocodiles also shed tears, but only to rid themselves of excess salt water.

* It is often believed that depressed people cry a lot, but researchers at Stanford University found that depressed people are no more likely to weep at a sad movie than non-depressed people.

* Although babies cry a lot, they don't actually shed tears until they are several weeks old.

* The most mournful tune, according to the psychologist John Sloboda, is Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony.

* The presence of the hormone prolactin is thought to be the reason women cry, on average, five times as much as men. At the age of 18 women have 60% more prolactin than men.

source site: click here

Posted by Scott Davis

Is Crying a Sign of Weakness?
by KC Kelly, Ph.D., LMHC


Is crying a sign of weakness? I don’t believe so. In fact, crying could very well be the opposite. What does crying do for us? I know personally, that when I cry, it releases my stress level immensely. Hey, this is better than throwing, punching, or even worse, right?

As women, we do not have to deal as much with the negative social stigma of crying that society has put onto men, but I hope this will fade in time. Because men release their stress levels often in more outwardly aggressive ways, if the social stigma were not pasted onto men about crying, do you think there would be more peace in our world? Maybe. Maybe not.

Is crying is a sign of weakness? I think it is more a sign of strength, courage and even wisdom as I know that my stress level will decrease after those tears are out. And finding ways to release our stress is one of the best things that we can do for ourselves and our overall mental/emotional/physical health. I rarely hear of someone saying they feel more stressed or upset after crying. Unless, they are referring to the bags under their eyes afterwards.

Shortly after deciding to write an article about crying, I found some information stating that a biochemist from the University of Minnesota had actually stated in his article entitled, “Crying: The Mystery of Tears” that, “People feel better after crying due to the elimination of hormones associated with stress”. Research has shared that due to the chemical composition of emotional tears, some scientists have hypothesized that a function of crying is to rid the body of stress hormones.

The American Academy of Pediatrics shares the many purposes that crying serves for infants. It helps them to communicate when they are uncomfortable, it gives them a way to call for help when hungry or uncomfortable, it helps to shut out sights, sounds and other sensations that are too intense and it helps release tension.

So, as we have grown older, we now have the capacity to not exhibit whaling cries because we are hungry, but still cry for many of the same reasons. The grounds for our tears metamorphosize as we get older, but the underlying reasons are usually the same: We are distressed about something.

When I talk of being upset about something, I usually resort back to my example of relativity. If a two year old child gets his/her toy taken away, they will cry as if it is the worst thing on Earth. For the two year old, the stress of losing that toy is enough to bring upon major tears. When they are finished crying, they usually fall asleep or are just calm enough to sit and stare. Have you ever noticed this with a young child? The stress hormones have been released and they now show as calm and more relaxed, even if they haven’t gotten what they wanted.

Adults, although they usually don’t cry for the same reasons, have the same kind of reaction when the crying is complete. Crying is a healthy release when done in moderation. Sometimes we have to give ourselves a certain amount of time to cry over what distresses us, and then change our thought pattern to stop the crying. If crying goes on for hours and hours or days, we must look into this more closely, however, typical crying is an amazing stress reliever. So, is crying a sign of weakness? I would have to again, say, “no”.

Please visit me at http://DOCintheBiz.com for mental health self help links and the opportunity to email me for professional and confidential help with any concerns you may have. You are never alone!

Dr. KC

Information found in: William H. Frey, Muriel Langseth (1985), Crying: The Mystery of Tears . Minneapolis. Winston Press.

Deeper Insight into the Act of Crying

by KC Kelly, Ph.D., LMHC


Deeper Insight into the Act of Crying. I have read and heard many comments to my past article entitled “Is Crying a Sign of Weakness?” and I felt compelled to answer here in a new article. I have written a deeper perspective of crying, what it can do for us, when not to be manipulated by it, and when to take it seriously.

I heard many say that they disliked those who felt “self pity” for themselves and this is understandable. Or not having the patience for those who cry for attention. That too, I understand. So, the grand idea here is to learn to know the difference between true distress and manipulation.

In my article Is Crying a Weakness?, I spoke of the importance of getting your feelings out by crying and releasing the stress that usually is one of the causes of the need to cry.

For example, only allow yourself to cry for a maximum of 20 minutes over a situation and then bring yourself out of it and move on to something else. Even if you have to set a timer for yourself, this can be a great way to give yourself a starting and ending point to your “crying session”.

Then when that timer goes off, you break yourself away from your tears, clean yourself up and move on. Having a preset list of tasks to get done in the day is a great distracter so that you have a plan of action of what you will do once your timer goes off.

Moving on from your feelings that made you cry in the first place can also be done by changing your thought pattern and your attitude towards getting yourself out of the upsetting thoughts and changing your mind-set to move on to better yourself.

*For those suffering with severe mental/emotional distress, crying is a necessity to get feelings out. For more serious issues such as clinical depression or another disorder, professional help should be encouraged immediately.

Reasons why people get turned off by those who cry:

Self pity is very real, and although possibly not the most endearing trait to possess, when someone feels hopeless and/or helpless, this is what usually occurs. They should still be taken seriously and encouraged to get help to figure out the underlying reasons for their distress or low self esteem that makes them feel badly about themselves or their situation in life.

They may not know that change needs to take place, or they may not know how to make these changes. This is when intervention is necessary to aid them or push them to get the professional help they need. Most times, it’s difficult for change to take place by listening to a loved one or a friend, and the person needs professional guidance.

If crying is only to get the attention of others, it probably shouldn’t be ignored either because it could be a “cry” for help that someone doesn’t know how to ask for except for crying. If ignored, it could lead to other more serious issues such as suicidal ideation or even suicide.

We never really know what is going on inside the mind of another or what plans they have for themselves or their future. And I’ve seen too many times, people who seem relatively OK on the outside with a few bouts of self pity and then end their lives. This is in reference to serious issues that are covert and not obvious to loved ones or friends.

It is important to realize that what is NOT serious to one can be very serious to another. We are all unique individuals and act as such. We all cope with distress in different ways. The sad person is not the person we usually want to spend our time with, but if you dig a little deeper to find out what is causing the tears, you might find something more serious below the surface. If not, then you have your answer there too.

I wish to mention again: For those suffering with severe mental/emotional distress, crying is a necessity to get feelings out. For more serious issues such as clinical depression or another disorder, professional help should be encouraged immediately.

So, I hope that gives some deeper insight into the act of crying and what it does for people and how to better handle a loved one or friend who may cry a bit more than we would like them to.

Please visit me at http://DOCintheBiz.com for mental health self help links and the opportunity to email me for professional and confidential help with any concerns you may have. You are never alone!

Dr. KC


by Melissa Boutette


Unable to see the world
around you


Unable to see the
clouds above


Unable to see the
color blue


Or what your reflection
looks like in the mirror


All these precious things
we take for granted


All these thing we don’t
seem to think twice about


Until one day

When our loved one
come into this world


Missing only one thing

The eyes that help
you see


Born blind
Unable to see what
lies around her


Unable to experience
the beauty we do


Unable to look into
her mother's eyes


The colors, the shapes,
facial expressions


All this has no meaning

Why? was a common
asked question


But nobody knows

No eyes means nothing


For she will never miss
what she never had


A family to take
care of her


Love from everywhere

She is beautiful and healthy


And there is nothing more

That one could possibly do


She'll grow just like
any other


Not thinking that she
is different


Independent she will become

And off she goes in
her little world


As if nothing was
ever wrong


She'll walk through
the park on a sunny morning


Catch the smile
on your face

Capture the emotions
that lie within


And one day she will
picture it


That way that she
believes it to be


No eyes This means nothing

For she will grow and prosper


Just like any other

And powerless she
will not be


For her strength within
will pull her through


Melissa now 18 is Ariel's cousin. 2 year old Ariel born bilateral anophthalmia.* born without eyes source site: Poem: Unable by Melissa Boutette

Are you unable to connect to others in your relationships? Can you connect with your children or are you unable to?

Have you connected with your children?

The Lost Children of Rockdale County

by: Robert Wm. Blum, MD & colleagues


For many reasons, "The Lost Children of Rockdale County" is a very disturbing portrayal of youth in a middle to upper middle class community. While on the surface this is a program about sex and sexual promiscuity, what's far more disturbing than that is the tremendous disconnect that exists between the children of Rockdale County and their families.


Over and over again, throughout the program, we see parents who are either clueless or blatantly unconcerned about their children. We see parents who have replaced caring and personal involvement with the purchase of material goods and we see parents who are afraid to discipline their children:

"I thought that if I disciplined you, you would run away."

Or, who are afraid to hug their children, "We don't do that in our family. " And who are afraid to set boundaries, "I felt that he should sow his wild oats when he was young so he wouldn't do it when he was older."


We see young people who even 3 years after the event don't fully understand the magnitude of the behaviors in which they were participants. And, we see a community that has changed little or not at all as a consequence of the events in 1996.


Fundamentally, Rockdale County is a setting where there are no resources for young people; there are no options except the strip mall, the movies and the bowling lane and there's nothing for them to do. It's a community that is built for adults.


What's so disturbing about the program isn't that we're witnessing a rare event in the US, but rather an event that's quite common.


First of all, the use of sex to attract friendships and maintain social connections (or to disrupt others' social connections) is age old and the fact that this is a white upper income community doesn't make it particularly surprising despite the editorial comments of the commentator.


Rather, there may be a perception (there appears to be this bias in the program) that these events are rare in suburban America. The events aren't rare; it may be that as adults we tend to be less willing to acknowledge them in this kind of community than in lower income communities.


Another issue that was touched on in the program was access to pornography, with young people as young as 12 and 13 imitating what they saw on the Playboy Channel. In truth, we know that juveniles have easy access to pornography through the Internet, cable television and the corner magazine rack.


The solution isn't more laws or greater restrictions, for rarely have such interventions worked. Rather, we need to have adults continuously, visibly and actively present in the lives of young people.


We need to have parents who are authoritative in their parenting, not authoritarian or laissez-faire as we saw in the program. Authoritative parents set clear boundaries, discuss and negotiate the rules but then follow through with pre-established consequences.


Authoritative parents are both firm and fair. Rarely did we see such parents in the program. Rather, we saw parents who were unable to connect with their children and even when they did, they thought that caring was all that was needed. It isn't.


Rather, adolescents need guidance as well as encouragement and they need to know that their parents, their relatives and the adult network in the neighborhood are all watching them, are all concerned and see their upbringing as a priority.


While the program is entitled "The Lost Children of Rockdale County" the reality is that these are the lost parents of Rockdale County and even after the syphilis epidemic and even after the town hall meeting, it's clear that the adults in the community are as clueless as they ever were.


In community after community across America we look at adolescent problem behaviors and we define them to be the result of problem adolescents. While we are happy and comfortable to scapegoat young people, we often don't look to the environment that we as adults have created that allow a situation to develop.


Such is clearly the case here. For young people to flourish they need 4 things and until every town and village and major urban area in America are prepared to provide them, Rockdale County will not be a distant place, but in fact our backyard.


The things critical for successful development include:


1. Safe places for young people to congregate with adult supervision;


2. Opportunities for young people to actively contribute to their family, their neighborhood and their community;


3. Opportunities for active recreation and for young people to have fun and enjoy themselves;


4. An adult in the life of every young person who is "crazy about them".


[Ed Note: Since this article appeared, final data indicates the total number of young people exposed in the 1996 syphilis outbreak was more than 200.]


Background for above article:


A small cluster of people with syphilis was first detected in the spring of 1996 by a nurse who staffs a part-time STD clinic in a suburban county that is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area.


The nurse reported these cases to the regional public health office staff that provides disease investigation services for the county & to the Georgia Division of Public Health.


Initial assessment suggested that the outbreak involved a substantial number of people, with groups of people who interacted sexually on a regular basis.


Additional help for disease investigation was mobilized from a larger nearby county STD control program. At the onset, an attempt was made to take a network-oriented approach to the outbreak by interviewing as many people as possible who might be involved in transmission (whether infected or not) and by attempting to record information on standard epidemiologic forms (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention [CDC] 73.54) for use in network analysis.


This report summarizes information on 99 people and 10 cases of syphilis and presents an ethnographic assessment based on follow-up interviews with key participants.

Overall Ethnographic Assessment


Syphilis was diagnosed in 6 white female subjects (4 of whom were younger than 16 years of age), 2 white male subjects (both 17 years of age) and 2 African-American male subjects (ages 19 & 16 years).


Based on routine contact interviewing and investigation of infected and uninfected people and special ethnographic interviews with key participants, a complex picture of sexual interaction, starting at least 1 year before the diagnosis of the first syphilis cases, emerged.


At the center of this outbreak was a group of young white girls (2/3 of whom were 16 years of age or younger) who, in various combinations, met periodically to use drugs and have a variety of sexual interactions with several groups of slightly older boys.


The venue was usually the home of one of the girls whose parents were out for the evening. The 2 major groups of boys differed in their ethnic and economic background. One group was a more affluent set of whites 17 to 21 years of age; the other was a predominantly African-American group of similar age but of less affluent background.


The 2 groups didn't commingle at the parties. The drugs of choice were blunts (short, mild cigars), to which marijuana or cocaine had been added and alcohol. Multiple accounts corroborated the fact that injectable drugs weren't used.


Sex was usually public and communal; the girls would have sequential & simultaneous sex partners, experiencing vaginal, anal and oral sex, occasionally at the same time and occasionally with more than one partner at a particular orifice.


The girls also had sex with each other and numerous sexual encounters outside the party environment were also documented. During the initial outbreak investigation, we were unable to document the extent of parents' knowledge or understanding (or possible participation) in these activities.

Network Visualization


The intensity of interaction between the African-American men and the white girls was greater than that between the white men and white girls, although this intensity didn't appear to lead to greater transmission to the African-American men.


Visualization of these groups and all their sex partners uncovered the importance of several people not specifically identified with these groups (e.g. N43 & S30) who served as bridges between the 2 groups of men.

Ethnographic Follow-up


Follow-up interviews, focusing on the current situation and network changes, were conducted between 6 and 12 months after the initial interviews with a subsample of 8 of the adolescent women.


The interviews were held outside the clinic setting and subjects voluntarily participated in the 30 to 60 minute session with one of us (C.S.).


Based on their personal history and their comments about others', these young women revealed that many had continued to be sexually active with multiple partners in the context of drug and alcohol use. There were, however, some important changes.


A few young women no longer participated because they'd moved or because of stricter parental supervision. In the past, gatherings had tended to be at the home of one of the young women, but had moved to local motel and hotel rooms.


The originally identified social network had fragmented into several smaller groups; i.e., 1 of the African-American men who was central in the original network was apparently no longer willing to engage in group sex and tended to consort with a single (changeable) partner at a time.


Several woman also claimed to demur from group sex, although group use of alcohol and drugs had continued for them. 2 women stated that they would "get high" with the group and have sex with one of the male partners, either in their car or in a hidden public setting.


Other women stated that they were in a steady sexual relationship with a man from the original group involved in the outbreak. One of the main motivations for sexual risk reduction was the unconfirmed rumor that one of the men in the central group had been identified as HIV positive.


The women interviewed all appeared to agree that most parents hadn't taken action in response to the outbreak, nor were there increased levels of communication at home regarding drug use and sexual activity.


Thus, the ethnographic data indicate that some social network changes had occurred that might inhibit continued disease transmission (e.g. fewer sexual exposures in groups.) The clinic staff indicated that they maintained more contact with the men than w/the women, many of whom began attending the family planning clinic.

Two women in the original cluster of 18 were pregnant at the time of their treatment for syphilis. Clinic record and verbal reports indicated that an additional 13 women, 8 from the original cluster and 5 others involved in the outbreak, became pregnant subsequent to the completion of their treatment.

Stay connected to your children!

How Well Do You Know Your Kid? ; ( Newsweek ) 
By Barbara Kantrowitz and Pat Wingert With Anne Underwood; 05-10-1999

How Well Do You Know Your Kid?: The new teen wave is bigger, richer, better educated and healthier than any other in history. But there' s a dark side and too many parents aren't doing their job. 

ocks, preps, punks, Goths, geeks. They may sit at separate tables in the cafeteria, but they all belong to the same generation. There are now 31 million kids in the 12 to 19 age group and demographers predict that there will be 35 million teens by 2010, a population bulge bigger than even the baby boom at its peak.


In many ways, these teens are uniquely privileged. They've grown up in a period of sustained prosperity and haven't had to worry about the draft (as their fathers did) or cataclysmic global conflicts (as their grandparents did).

Cable and the Internet have given them access to an almost infinite amount of information. Most expect to go to college and girls, in particular, have unprecedented opportunities; they can dream of careers in everything from professional sports to politics, with plenty of female role models to follow.

But this positive image of American adolescence in 1999 is a little like yearbook photos that depict every kid as happy and blemish - free. After the Littleton, Colo., tragedy, it's clear there's another dimension to this picture and it's far more troubled.


In survey after survey, many kids - even those on the honor roll - say they feel increasingly alone and alienated, unable to connect with their parents, teachers and sometimes even classmates.


They're desperate for guidance and when they don't get what they need at home or in school, they cling to cliques or immerse themselves in a universe out of their parents' reach, a world defined by computer games, TV and movies, where brutality is so common it's become mundane.


The parents of Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold have told friends they never dreamed their sons could kill. It's an extreme case, but
it has made a lot of parents wonder:
Do we really know our kids?

Many teens say they feel overwhelmed by pressure and responsibilities. They are juggling part-time jobs and hours of homework every night; sometimes they're so exhausted that they're nearly asleep in early - morning classes.


Half have lived through their parents' divorce. 63% are in households where both parents work outside the home and many look after younger siblings in the afternoon.


Still others are home by themselves after school. That unwelcome solitude can extend well into the evening; mealtime for this
generation too often begins
with a forlorn touch of the microwave.

In fact, of all the issues that trouble adolescents, loneliness ranks at the top of the list. University of Chicago sociologist Barbara Schneider has been studying 7,000 teenagers for 5 years and has found they spend an average of 31/2 hours alone every day.


Teenagers may claim they want privacy, but they also crave and need attention and they're not getting it.


Author Patricia Hersch profiled 8 teens who live in an affluent area
of northern Virginia for her 1998 book, "A Tribe Apart." "Every kid I talked to at length eventually came around to saying without my asking that they wished they had more adults in their lives, especially their parents," she says.

Loneliness creates an emotional vacuum that's filled by an intense peer culture, a critical buffer against kids' fear of isolation. Some of this bonding is normal and appropriate; in fact, studies have shown that the human
need for acceptance is almost a biological drive, like hunger.


It's especially intense in early adolescence, from about 12 to 14, a time of "hyper self-consciousness," says David Elkind, a professor of child development at Tufts University and author of " All Grown Up and No Place to Go."


"They become very self-centered and spend a lot of time thinking about what others think of them," Elkind says. "And when they think about what others are thinking, they make the error of thinking that everyone is thinking about them."


Dressing alike is a refuge, a way of hiding in the group. When they're 3 and scared, they cling to a security blanket; at 16, they want body piercings or Abercrombie shirts.

If parents and other adults abdicate power, teenagers come up with their own rules. It's "Lord of the Flies" on a vast scale. Bullying has become so extreme and so common that many teens just accept it as part of high-school life in the '90's.


Emory University psychologist Marshall Duke, an expert on children's friendships, recently asked 110 students in one of his classes if any of them had ever been threatened in high school. To his surprise, "they all raised their hand." In the past, parents and teachers served as mediating forces in the classroom jungle.


William Damon, director of the Stanford University Center for Adolescence, recalls writing a satirical essay when he was in high school about how he and his friends tormented a kid they knew.


Damon got an "A" for style & grammar, but the teacher took him aside and told him he should be ashamed of his behavior. "That's what is supposed to happen," Damon says. "People are supposed to say,
'Hey, kid, you've gone too far here'."


Contrast that with reports from Littleton, where Columbine students
described a film class nonchalantly viewing a murderous video created by Eric Harris
and Dylan Klebold. In 1999 this apparently was not remarkable behavior.

When they're isolated from parents, teens are also more vulnerable to serious emotional problems. Surveys of high-school students have indicated that 1 in 4 considers suicide each year, says Dr. David Fassler, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Burlington, Vt. and author of "Help Me, I'm Sad: Recognizing, Treating and Preventing Childhood and Adolescent Depression."


By the end of high school, many have actually tried to kill themselves. "Often the parents or teachers don't realize it was a suicide attempt," he says. "It can be something ambiguous like an overdose of nonprescription pills from the medicine cabinet or getting drunk and crashing the car with suicidal thoughts." 

Even the best, most caring parents can't protect their teenagers from all these problems, but involved parents can make an enormous difference. Kids do listen.


Teenage drug use (although still high) is slowly declining and even teen pregnancy and birthrates are down slightly - largely because of improved education efforts, experts say.


More teens are delaying sex and those who're sexually active are more likely to use contraceptives than their counterparts a few years ago. In the teenage years, the relationship between parents and children is constantly evolving as the kids edge toward independence.


Early adolescence is a period of transition, when middle-school kids move from one teacher and one classroom to a different teacher for each subject.


In puberty, they're moody and irritable. "This is a time when parents and kids bicker a lot," says Laurence Steinberg, a psychology professor at Temple University and author of "You and Your Adolescent: A Parents' Guide to Ages 10 to 20."


"Parents are caught by surprise, " he says. "They discover that the tricks they've used in raising their kids effectively during childhood stop working."


He advises parents to try to understand what their kids are going through; things do get better. "I have a 14-year-old son," Steinberg says, " and when he moved out of the transition phase into middle adolescence, we saw a dramatic change. All of a sudden, he's our best friend again."


In middle adolescence, roughly the first 3 years of high school, teens are increasingly on their own. To a large degree, their lives revolve around school and their friends. "They have a healthy sense of self," says Steinberg.


They begin to develop a unique sense of identity, as well as their own values and beliefs. "The danger in this time would be to try to force them to be something you want them to be, rather than help them be who they are."


Their relationships may change dramatically as their interests

change; in Schneider's study, almost 3/4 of the closest friends named by seniors weren't even mentioned during sophomore

Late adolescence is another transition, this time to leaving home altogether. "Parents have to be able to let go," says Steinberg and "have faith and trust that they've done a good enough job as parents that their child can handle this stuff."


Contrary to stereotypes, it isn't mothers who're most likely to mourn in the empty nest. They' re often relieved to be free of some chores. But Steinberg says that fathers "suffer from thoughts of missed chances."

That should be the ultimate lesson of tragedies like Littleton. "Parents need to share what they really believe in, what they really think is important," says Stanford's Damon. "These basic moral values are more important than math skills or SATs."


Seize any opportunity to talk - in the car, over the breakfast table, watching TV. Parents have to work harder to get their points across. Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, has studied teenagers' views of parents.


"One 16-year-old told us, 'I'm proud of the fact that [my mother] deals with me even though I try to push her away. She's still there'." So pay attention now. The kids can't wait.

The American Red Cross