Author Archives: FireSpike

Tips For Trying to Manage Your Anger

Coaching Tips For Anger Management

It may seem that anger is increasing everywhere you turn, whether in people around you or in the world in general.  There isn’t much you can do to change other people’s anger. But there are a few things that may help you with your own irritation or rage.

Holding on to anger can lead to emotional distress and wear a person down. If you struggle with anger, a compassionate counselor can help you address its causes and explore new coping strategies. These tips, which involve things you have control over, can also help you make a difference in your anger.

  1. Make your physical health a high priority.

Coaching tip for anger management is healthy foods.

We’ve all seen how cranky kids can get when they are hungry, tired, or have been sitting still for too long. As adults, we may be better at hiding this type of agitation, but physical discomfort still affects us. Going for long periods of time without eating, running on sleep deprivation, or sitting for hours in an office or your car, can easily lead to an irritable mood.

Eating nutritious food every three or so hours during the day, sleeping eight hours every night, and not going for more than two days without exercising are some steps you can take that can help minimize outbursts of anger.

Drugs and alcohol can also take a toll on physical health and may lower thresholds of tolerance and the ability to give others the benefit of the doubt. Avoiding these can also help you minimize anger and irritability. Taking care of your physical health can help you better about yourself, which is likely to lead to your having more generous feelings to those around you.

  1. Remember anger is a secondary reaction to fear.

Traditional anger management techniques may fail to work because they do not address the underlying cause of the anger itself. Anger is not a primary emotion. It only comes after (sometimes very, very quickly after) feelings like fear or hurt. Anger is a protective emotion. It gives us a feeling of power when we’re afraid we’re in danger. When we are afraid of being hurt, embarrassed, left, inconvenienced, taken advantage of or fired, anger may be triggered in an attempt to keep us safe.

To combat this, focus on developing coping skills for your fears. Coping skills can make controlling the subsequent anger much easier. For instance, giving yourself extra time to drive to work can help minimize the fear of being late. Learning to take yourself less seriously can provide relief from the fear of being embarrassed. Developing your self-confidence and believing you could find another job can reduce the fear of losing your current one.

Cultivate the belief you will be able to handle whatever life may bring your way. Attending individual or group therapy can help you build confidence and believe you will be able to find solutions to whatever comes along. You have handled many difficult situations in the past. You will be able to do the same in the future.

  1. Develop an attitude of gratitude.

Anger and its preceding emotion, fear, are run by the concern that something may go wrong or become out of control. One way to counter these feelings is to pay attention to what is going right in your life. Practice gratitude by taking notice of the blessings that show up every day. Keep a gratitude journal of what you’re grateful for each day. Make it a habit to comment on the unexpected pleasures or joys that happen to you, no matter how small they might be.

Some things you might notice:

  • A bill that was just a little less than you thought it would be
  • A parking space that opened up just as you arrived
  • The natural beauty of the world around you
  • Comforts in your day, such as good coffee, a delicious meal, or a good book
  • A compliment someone gave you
  • A friend or family member you are grateful to have in your life.

Practicing gratitude changes neuropathways in the brain. You can literally rewire your brain to notice what is going right with your life rather than what is going wrong. Practice complimenting yourself and others. Doing so will help you focus on what is safe and good.

Using these three techniques may help you feel calmer and more at peace. Remember to be kind to yourself. If you have long practiced responding with anger to the frustrating situations in your life, it may take some repetition to develop a new response. Commit to a calmer life. You deserve to have serenity no matter what is going on around you.

For more information on how coaching can help with your anger management, make an appointment at my Portland office.

Courtesy of Good Therapy.

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Coping with Loss as We Age

Life Coaching to Help Cope with Loss Through Life

Dealing with loss with life coaching in Portland.One inevitable feature of life as we age is loss. Some losses are minor; some are massive. We lose physical characteristics, abilities, and loved ones—our hair, our bone density, our eyesight, our hearing, our best friend, our spouse. These losses can lead to grief, loneliness, and despair. We may wake up in the morning with an overwhelming sadness that starts before our conscious mind is even alert, and we’re reminded of what happened, that it wasn’t just a bad dream.


Realistic positivity means seeing and accepting what is now—both in our inner and outer worlds—and then putting our focus on what we would love. Seeing life through the lens of realistic positivity can have a massive effect on our enthusiasm for life and interest in moving forward after loss. When we accept the truth that “the only constant is change,” and that change often entails loss, we become more resilient in the face of loss. We are open to life filling the void without our intervention, and we can proactively fill it when it doesn’t.

For example, a woman I know had fantastic hearing one day, and the next day experienced the sudden and complete loss of sound in her left ear. No doctor could bring it back. She grieved her loss—an essential part of realistic positivity is accepting “what is”—and then came to appreciate how incredible the neuroplasticity of the human brain is: Her brain “rerouted” sounds to her right ear. Losing her hearing in one ear made her realize how little she appreciated it while she had it, and it taught her not to take anything seemingly so basic for granted again.

Other times, though, we must proactively replace losses when they occur.


Whether we were laid off, forced to retire, or chose to retire, the loss of a job or career can feel devastating. In the U.S., we treat our careers as almost inseparable from who we are. “What do you do for a living?” is often the first question we’re asked by new acquaintances right after “What is your name?”

I find it helpful to think of the void a loss has left as merely a space for something new and gratifying to enter our life. If we approach the loss of our career with realistic positivity, we can both accept the reality of what is—our career as we once knew it is has ended—and turn our focus to what we want and need—a drive to accomplish or experience something new, a purpose. The loss of our career leaves a space we can now fill with new ventures. We can write a book, travel to India, learn a new instrument or a new language, volunteer, or start an entirely new career—one not focused on income potential, but on passion.


When we lose someone we love, we have the opportunity to deepen our connections with those still with us or forge new ones. We gain resilience by being proactive in replacing our losses. When a loved one dies, we may lose several things at once: the person, our relationship with them, our way of being with them, their help, our plans with them, and so on. We must replace the loss not because we didn’t truly love them or don’t miss them, but because our own life is still worth being the best it can be, and to live a good life, we need good people in it.

Replacing the loss of someone we loved requires allowing ourselves to fully grieve and letting go of the expectation that we will find someone who will fill our loved one’s shoes in precisely the same way. We must examine and acknowledge our needs and be willing to reach out to others. We must also have patience and compassion for ourselves as we find our way into the future.


Loss is a gift? It is if through it we learn to value life in the present, to live and love fully, with the knowledge that we may not get another chance. Loss can help us if we recognize the lesson it teaches us—that every moment counts, material things don’t matter in the end, and we’re not defined by what we do or don’t have. Loss can be an impetus to meet new people, have fresh experiences, and explore additional ways to achieve the affirmation and love that we need. Experiencing loss also can make us more thoughtful, loving, and compassionate. By showing us what is essential, and what isn’t, loss helps us to let go of what is false and not serving us and guides us to our truest, best selves.

If you or someone you know is struggling with loss, set up a life coaching appointment at my Portland office.

Courtesy of 

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Life Presence Coaching For Better Living

Stay Present in Life: How to Attract What You Want

Coaching life presence for better living. PortlandWho doesn’t want to live their dream? I don’t think many of us would say “no, thanks” if the opportunities and relationships we desired were offered to us on a silver platter. It can be encouraging to remember that ultimately, we are the creators of our own life.

In a literal sense, we can create or impact outcomes we desire if we keep our head in a good feeling space consistently.

We are all artists, creating our lives thought by thought, action by action.

The areas we focus on are a big deal. These are the difference between a life we feel aligned and satisfied with versus a life we are constantly questioning and trying to figure out.

To quickly gauge where your focus tends to fall, ask yourself this question:

“Do I tend to focus on the good things (what’s abundant) or what’s a problem (what’s lacking) in my life?”

Focusing on what’s wrong will often leave you in a state of anxiety and in a “fix it” mindset, while focusing on what’s going well can support more positive experiences coming your way. This is often the case because what we focus on dictates our feelings and thoughts. How we think and what we spend our time thinking about becomes a habit. For better or worse, our thought habits can affect how we perceive our life. This spider web effect is nothing new. We’ve all heard it, especially those of us familiar with the Universal Laws of Attraction.

Here are some tips on how to help attract good things in your life.


Life tends to mirror what we believe to be true. It’s common for our human minds to need to see and have proof of an outcome or reality before we believe it’s possible. Our need to see before we can believe is where we get stuck. The trick is to allow yourself to dream while pressing the pause button on your logical mind. Our logic is waiting for things to make sense. The reality is, sometimes how things come to be defies logic, and unexplainable things do happen. Start believing in them and how they can happen to and for you.

I understand why it’s hard for many adults to believe in what we can’t see. After all, we grew up and became “practical.” Responsibilities present themselves; all of this is valid. There’s no denying that. However, it’s to our benefit to tap into that childlike part of ourselves and remember how to imagine, dream, and believe.


What makes you feel good? Great, do more of that.

Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people, environments, and activities that align with who you are. I want to emphasize that life’s not about feeling good all the time. This belief can cause people to deny or not process uncomfortable emotions.

Life provides contrast, including both yin and yang, good and not so good feelings. When negative situations and emotions come up, do your best to acknowledge them. Allow them to be there while continuing to focus on the positive things that are also in your path. You will always have options in life; the key is to choose wisely. When possible, choose the things that bring you joy.


When your mind is stuck in fear, anxiety, worry, or depression, good things are often blocked from coming into your space. When your mind is chronically stuck in the past, a common symptom of that head-space is depression. When your mind is constantly stuck in the future, the common consequence of that mindset can be heightened anxiety. These conditions can be your body’s natural way of alerting you that alignment is off. Being in the present can help us feel centered and balanced.

Practicing staying in the moment can help you discover more presence in your life. Here are some quick ideas of how to practice being present in your life:

  • Be mindful of over-planning
  • Rid yourself of distractions that don’t serve you
  • Disconnect from relationships that are not supportive and feel draining
  • Be thoughtful of how you spend your time

Clearing out the activities and distractions that are not serving you while creating more space for good things to come in can allow you to spend more time on the things that matter most to you.

Believe that good things are possible and are, in fact, on their way to you. Expect good things to happen to and for you. This frame of mind may help you cultivate more overall goodness in your life.

If you’re having trouble reframing your mindset or focusing on what’s positive, coaching can help. Call to learn more about life coaching at our Portland office.

© Copyright 2018

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How Mindfulness Coaching Can Help Relationship Empathy & Conflict Resolution

Mindfulness Can Help Build Empathy & Resolve Conflict

Portland relationship coaching for conflict resolutionWhen we talk about mindfulness, we usually focus on mindfulness within the individual: an awareness of one’s own thoughts and emotions or staying present in the moment to enjoy one’s own life. What’s missing from the conversation is the mindfulness required to create meaningful connections with others. To have a successful relationship, you can’t be mindful of only your own interior experience; you must be mindful of the other person’s, too.

So much of our conflict with loved ones comes from an unawareness of another human being’s inner reality. The phrase buried in so many apologies is “didn’t mean to”: “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” “I didn’t mean to make you angry,” “I didn’t mean to upset you.” The truth would sound more like, “I wasn’t paying any attention to you when I said or did whatever created a problem for you.” Sometimes we may be unaware of a button we’re pushing or a wound we’re picking, but often those slights are not the result of ill intentions, but of having no intentions at all.

You probably know that identifying and attending to your emotions is a key to psychological well-being. But you might not know that identifying and attending to the feelings of others is a key to relationship well-being. You can’t grow a loving relationship without regard to the feelings of those for whom you care.

Conflict in a relationship arises when you focus your intentions entirely on your needs and ignore or dismiss your partner’s. You might not mean to hurt them, but when your mindfulness practice goes one way, your intentions don’t extend any love or concern to your partner.

Having a mindful relationship means deciding whether the connection is important to you and what you want from the other person, and then keeping that in mind when you communicate or are in conflict. If your intention is a loving, romantic partnership, all disagreements should be approached with love and partnership in mind.

Being mindful of your partner’s needs plays an important role in disagreements. Too often when we are in conflict, even with someone we love, we want only to win. We want the other person to change their behavior without us having to change a thing. We don’t mind a win-lose solution as long as we’re not the loser. Studies show that losses have a more significant psychological impact on us than wins do. Losing is an affront to our sense of self. But this attitude—win at all costs, or at least don’t lose—is toxic to relationships.

Does that mean for a partnership to work you have to be okay “losing” an argument sometimes? Not at all.

The win-lose scenario isn’t the only way to end a conflict. Try the win-win instead.

Winning a fight doesn’t always mean being right. If you get into an argument with your partner because you want to go to a party and they want to stay home and watch movies, one of you isn’t right and the other wrong. Pressuring your now-resentful partner into going to the party might feel like a win, but is it? A real win, the kind that lasts past one fight and makes your relationship stronger, is one in which your partner hears your point of view and addresses your needs or desires, and you do the same for them.

To address your partner’s needs, you have to practice mindfulness. You must be mindful of their boundaries and need for not just necessary physical requirements such as food and shelter but also for their emotional and psychological requirements, such as affection, acceptance, independence, and so on. There are some fundamental needs that virtually all people share, and they are crucial to keep in mind:

  • Respect:Respect is the basis of an emotionally healthy relationship. Respect your partner’s boundaries if you expect them to respect yours—and they should.
  • Time and attention:One of the most powerful ways to show your partner you love them is by giving them undivided time and attention.
  • Affection:Not only is physical affection an essential part of intimate relationships because it makes your brain release oxytocin, the “love hormone,” but studies show a link between affection deprivation and physical pain and poor sleep, which in turn increases negative emotions.
  • Approval:As a child, you seek approval from your caregivers and teachers; as an adult, you seek it from your loved ones. Simple compliments are easy to give and go far in building closeness and positive regard.
  • Security, predictability, and consistency:We all want a warm bed to come home to at the end of the day, a secure base we can retreat to. Your closest relationships should provide this base of support for you. In turn, you need to be there reliably for the people you love.
  • Autonomy and control:No matter how close you are to your partner, for the sake of your mental health and sense of self, you both need to maintain a separate identity. Your partner may sometimes have a priority that takes precedence over you, and that’s okay.

To create and maintain a loving relationship, decrease the frequency of conflict, and solve the conflicts that arise in a way that’s worthy of your partnership, you must be mindful of your partner’s needs and desires. For love to last, empathy must be a two-way street. No one can lose if everybody wins, and everybody wins when both of your needs and desires are treated with respect and validity.

If you are experiencing relationship issues and are wanting to know more about mindfulness, contact me for coaching in Portland.

© Copyright 2018

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Is Your Regret Causing Anxiety? Understand Your Regret

Portland Therapy Ideal for Understanding Regret About One’s Ideal Self

Regret can be painful, even debilitating. People plagued by regret may feel guilt or shame about what could have been. They can even develop symptoms of depression or anxiety. Yet regret in life is inevitable. No one is able to live up to every goal they set.

A new study published in the journal of Emotion explores the psychological underpinnings of regret. Researchers found regret stings the most when people fail to live up to their idealized selves. Regret about duties and obligations is less painful. Although regret about one’s idealized self is often more painful, participants were less likely to take proactive steps to live up to idealized versions of themselves.

Three Components of A Person’s Self

The research used six studies to survey hundreds of participants about their feelings of regret. The study draws upon the notion that there are three components of a person’s self: the actual self, the ideal self, and the ought self.

  • The actual selfis who a person believes they are.
  • The ideal selfis who a person wishes they were. The ideal self includes dreams for the future and goals for living up to values. It also includes traits a person wishes they had.
  • The ought selfis who a person thinks they should be. The ought self is more focused on obligations, such as holding down a job. Regrets involve failures to live up to these duties.

Researchers asked participants what kind of regrets they had most often. Most participants (72%) listed regrets about their ideal self. Only 28% of people listed regrets about their ought self. When people were asked to name their biggest regret in life, 76% mentioned a regret about their ideal selves.

This finding suggests regrets about the ideal self may be more painful. They may also be more likely to contribute to an overall feeling of regret.

Coping With Regret Helps By Knowing Selves

The study also found people are more likely to take steps to correct regrets related to their ought self than to their ideal self. This trend may be because ought-self regrets often involve explicit criteria. Fixing duty-related regrets can often be corrected with specific steps.  For example, if a student regrets doing poorly in class, they can resolve to raise their grade through studying.

Meanwhile, regrets involving one’s ideal self tend to be vaguer. A person may have a dream to “be adventurous” or “be a great parent.” Yet such goals rarely have a concrete way to mark success. Without a clear destination, many people wait for inspiration to guide them toward these goals. If inspiration doesn’t come, a person may let opportunities pass them by.

Fear of how the pursuit of a good life might look to others may also hold people back. That’s doubly true when there’s a conflict between a person’s ideal self and ought self. For instance, a person may wish to go on a backpacking trip with their child. But they may turn down the trip so they do not miss any work and appear “unmotivated” to colleagues. In this scenario, the person prioritizes the work duties of their ought self above the parenting dreams of their ideal self.

A trained therapist can help people cope with regret. They may help a person explore ways to build self-compassion and self-esteem. In therapy, a person can also learn goal-setting skills to help them grow into their ideal selves. If you’re interested in learning how to cope with regret or in need of anxiety therapy, make an appointment at my Portland office.

June 15, 2018 • Contributed by Zawn Villines, 


  1. Davidai, S. & Gilovich, T. (2018). The ideal road not taken: The self-discrepancies involved in people’s most enduring regrets. Emotion,18(3), 439-452. 
  2. Woulda, coulda, shoulda: The haunting regret of failing our ideal selves. (2018, May 29). 
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Portland Life Coaching Tip to Boost Your Happiness

 Your Social Life May Be Key to Boosting Your Happiness

The quest for a better quality of life is a common one. Some people believe if they reach a certain goal, they will finally be satisfied with life. But not being able to achieve these goals may make people feel even worse.

A study in Psychological Science suggests some strategies for happiness may work better than others. The pursuit of a better life need not include endless efforts at self-improvement. Instead, the study says people who make social goals are more likely to have greater happiness a year later.

A Life Coaching Key to Happiness : More Time With Others?

Portland Life Coaching Tip to Boost Happiness With Social Life In 2014, the study gathered data on 1,178 German adults. Participants were gathered from the nationally representative German Socio-Economic Panel Study.

The study asked participants to rank their life satisfaction on a scale of 0 to 10. A score of 0 meant completely dissatisfied, and 10 stood for completely satisfied. The study also asked participants how happy they thought they would be in 5 years.

Then the study asked to list their strategies for a happier future. About half (596) had no set strategy. Some claimed they could not do anything to improve their lives. Others said something outside of their control—such as a different political climate—would improve their lives.

The other half (582) provided a specific strategy for greater happiness. Most of those who set goals (398) mentioned an individual goal such as quitting smoking. The remainder (184) said doing something social—spending more time with family or friends or helping others—might make them happier.

A year later, participants again rated their life satisfaction. People who listed a social strategy reported greater life satisfaction the second time they were surveyed. People with individual goals showed about the same level of satisfaction as before. There were no significant differences between people who had an individual strategy and those who had no plan at all.

Further analysis revealed the group with social goals had increased happiness partially because they socialized more with others during the year. This finding suggests people who want to improve their lives might benefit from focusing on their relationships with others. Setting only self-improvement goals might be no better than setting no goals at all.

The study’s authors emphasize that further research is necessary to assess the long-term effects of goal setting. Future research may measure why some happiness strategies might work better than others.

Life coaching can help people achieve their goals, offering a chance at a better life. It can also help nurture relationships and improve social connections. If you are interested in how life coaching can help better your life, make an appointment at my Portland area office.

June 8, 2018 • Contributed by Zawn Villines, 


  1. Rohrer, J. M., Richter, D., Brummer, M., Wagner, G. G., & Schmukle, S. C. (2018, May 18). Successfully striving for happiness: Socially engaged pursuits predict increases in life satisfaction. 
  2. Social pursuits linked with increased life satisfaction. (2018, May 29). 
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Is Your Family Losing Sleep?

Sleep Deprivation Linked to Depression & Addiction in Teens

Sleep is an important part of general health, both teens and adults as seen below .

Depression can stem from lack of sleep in adolescents & family.Adolescents who don’t get enough sleep are more vulnerable to depression and addiction, according to research presented at the 56th Annual Meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP).

Previous research supports this conclusion. Research published in 2010 found a link between adolescent depression and sleep deprivation. In that study of 262 high scholars, more than half experienced excessive sleepiness and fatigue. The sleepy students were three times more likely to show strong depression symptoms than their rested peers. Continue reading

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