Be Mindful

In my last blog I touched on the concept of mindfulness, and forcing ourselves to live in the present. Trying to train our minds to only think about what is happening right now, not what has happened in the past, or what may happen in the future. Unfortunately we live most of our lives with our minds taking us where we want to go. Our thoughts tend to control us, instead of us controlling our thoughts.mindful2

One example of this is test anxiety. In most situations it is good to have some anxiety before a test; it encourages us to study so we can do well on the test. If however our thought turn to the past (I almost failed the last test and this one will be harder, I did not get very many of the homework questions right, I am going to worse on this test)…, or the future (If I fail this test my parents will be disappointed in me, I am going to have to go to summer school, that will ruin my summer, I am so stupid and a total failure…); that is when our thought control us negatively. We need to be able to concentrate on the present, try and learn the material for the test, seek help if we need it. Do whatever it takes to keep us on track and doing what needs to get done to deal with the present situation. The thing is, you will still have to study and write the test (deal with whatever is happening in the present moment, and deal with the emotions being brought up by your thoughts of the past and/or the future.

Sometimes a bad experience doing something (especially for the first time) will cause you to avoid doing things, or trying new things. “I am not going to the dance because last time nobody talked to me; they ignored me, and teased me because I did not dance with anyone.” Or, “I don’t want to do that, I am not as good as everyone else and people will tease me or laugh at me if I fail or mess up.”

Again, it is easy for our minds to wander and react in the above way, but we need to be able to control our thoughts to look at the present and not let fear of rejection or failure stop us from doing or participating in things. The reality of it is, living in the past or the future, a majority of the time, will trigger painful emotions instead of positive thoughts.

EMOTIONS1

The first step in becoming mindful is to think about your current patterns or habits so that you can think about what changes can be made. Try to notice when and where your thoughts tend to wander. Do you dwell on the past, or are you constantly worried about the future?

Do your thoughts tend to wander when you are doing certain things, or when you are in certain situations, places, etc.?

When your thoughts do wander, what emotions are triggered?

Try answering these three questions, maybe even keep track of them over the next little while, so that you realize the things that bother you and the areas you need to work on, to try and ease your anxieties.


Unidentified?

Many of the blogs that others have written have been about dealing with “identified” children or persons; but what about the “unidentified” child?  How about the child that falls through the cracks because he or she is not as disruptive as others in school?  Issues are not addressed by teachers because the child gets ‘okay’ grades.

This often leaves the parents dealing with all of the issues, and because nobody else has raised concern, the uneducated parent (in dealing with learning disabilities) may just think they have a sensitive child.

I am one of these parents, and until someone educated me, I tried (and often still try) to ease anxieties by avoiding situations that may cause anxiety. Unfortunately this often led to a child running a house. Something I did not even realize I was letting this happen. Decisions were made based on how my son would react, and whether I wanted to deal with the drama.

Anxiety-words

Add on top of that, parents who are divorced, and do not agree that outside help is needed. Getting my son the help that is needed has been difficult, but he is finally on a waiting list to get further assistance.

I have read many articles and attended seminars about learning disabilities, to try and educate myself. There are definitely anxiety issues, but I do not know if there is anything beyond that. Maybe it is just behavioural, because I feed into his anxiety, and allow him to manipulate me. At least I understand that I am allowing this, and am trying to change, but it is difficult to change a routine to which you have become accustomed (much like the dieter who cannot say no to doughnuts brought into work, or grabbing fast food for lunch because it is easier than taking the time to make something.) It is hard to see your child constantly unhappy, and not want to do something (or not make him do something), that may add to that unhappiness. It is heart wrenching to think that your decisions are the cause of your child’s grief or sorrow, but just as unhealthy to the child, to simply avoid situations that may cause stress or anxiety.

Since my son has yet to be diagnosed, I cannot say for sure that he suffers from an anxiety disorder. There may be more to it than anxiety. Or, as I hinted earlier, it may just be learned behaviour or maybe some combination of the above. Whatever the case, I feel that it is important to take the precautions necessary to help my son deal with life. I’ve been opposed to medication in the past, but can see that in many cases, it can help an individual calm down enough to learn the effective strategies necessary to cope with daily life and its ultimate turmoils.

An anxiety disorder can simply be stated as any worry that is out of control, and children with anxiety can appear oppositional or irritable because they are distracted by their worries. They can also be explosive, moody or tearful.

Here are some of the signs of anxiety disorder:

  • Insomniaanxiety
  • Reoccurring stomach aches, headaches
  • Shortness of breath, racing heart
  • Resistance to participating in social activities
  • Fear of deviating from a regular routine
  • Tantrums or moodiness right before a specific event
  • Exaggerated negative thoughts about future events
  • “Clinginess” – always wanting proximity to a parent
  • Whining/crying when uncomfortable with people, routines and/or situations

I offer the above list to other parents who may be dealing with these symptoms and not realize or understand that there may be an issue. I’m not necessarily saying that I want my child labeled, but I do want to give him every opportunity to succeed. I now realize that going the extra step to get professional help (which could even include medication) could quite possibly give him the extra edge he needs to be successful in life.