ANGER: CHANGING YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS

Unfortunately, anger can become almost a way of life when you have PTSD.  It often keeps us from feeling good about ourselves and enjoying life, but, being aware of what makes us angry and how we allow it to control us helps us gain control over it.

Being mindful of our thoughts and angry feelings is the first step to controlling anger.  Pay attention to what you’re feeling on and off throughout your day.  Notice how negative thoughts can weigh you down and contribute to feeling bad.  Try to examine what’s running through your mind and look at it objectively.  If you can honestly evaluate the truth behind your thoughts, you may find you’re letting your negative thoughts and feelings control you.

There are some specific ways in which we let our thought patterns influence us.  You may find you generalize about things.  This happens when we believe that things are one specific way and can’t be any other way, also known this as “black and white” thinking.  It’s an extreme viewpoint, and may develop when we have not really examined the situation from every side.  It’s easy to fall into generalization without realizing it.  If you think you may be using this negative thought process, try challenging your thoughts and looking at things in a different way, or “relabeling.”  If we decide things are bad without looking at them closely enough to realize they have some benefit too, we are doing an injustice to ourselves and we’re committing our thoughts to only negative beliefs.  Almost every situation has some potential good to it too.

I have a friend who always sees the negative side of anything that is happening to him.  He magnifies it until it becomes a major life stressor, yet I notice that it’s often just what I would respond by saying, “That’s life.”  By focusing on the negative, he makes every situation worse.

An example of generalization occurred to me this week.  I’ll be leaving on vacation this Friday, and driving to Virginia with my sister.  We’re going in my car, and on Monday, it started making a grinding noise.  My first response was, “Oh, no!  This is the worst time for this to happen.”  I had so much to do in such a short time, but when I challenged that thought, I realized that this was a much better time for it to happen than when we were actually on the trip!  It could have been much worse if we would have had to stop on the way just to learn the front brakes need to be replaced!  Once I acknowledged that, I wasn’t so stressed out about the problem.

Another form of negative thinking is “emotional thinking.”  This is when our emotions drive what we’re thinking.  In emotional thinking, what we feel controls what we think.  An example is, “I’m afraid, so I must be in danger.”  Now there are times we are afraid, yet we are projecting the fears of another time into our current situation.  Because something bad happened to us in the past, when we feel afraid like we did that first time, we think it automatically means things are going to turn out the same.  In reality, there may be no base for feeling that way at all.

Learning to control our PTSD may take some time, but most things that are worthwhile do take time.  Listen to yourself and what you are thinking and feeling.  Challenge your thoughts, when necessary, and let go of your anger.  Don’t let it control your life!

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CREATING AN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE

You may not feel that creating a written advance directive is something you want to bother with.  Most people don’t want to face their own mortality and put off leaving any kind of written instructions for how they want things handled in the event they can’t make decisions for themselves.  However, none of us knows how long we’ll have on this earth, or what shape we’ll be in while we’re here.  Having an advance directive simply allows you to make decisions now for what you’ll want if and when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.

An advance directive doesn’t mean that you are giving up your choices for the future.  In fact, a Durable Power of Attorney does not go into effect unless two doctors, or a doctor and a psychologist, agree that you no longer understand the risks and benefits of a particular course of action.  In that event, the person named in the document becomes your officially appointed spokesperson.

There are many advance directive forms you can use to note who you think should be making decisions for you.  You’ll need to choose that person carefully as you’ll want someone who will support your wishes.  There is an obligation on the part of the person you appoint, who accepts the appointment, to do what you have asked be done.

Without an advance directive, your family, your spouse, and your doctors will get equal say in what is done to you, so it’s important for you to take the time to create an advance directive.  You may go on line and find a variety of forms that will lead you through the process.  The peace of mind it will bring is worth whatever effort you put into it.

 

 

FINANCIAL HEALTH

It’s unfortunate that so many people are having financial problems these days, but with the weak job market, excessive credit card interest, and resistance to creating a budget, it’s hard not to get caught in a pinch.  There are things you can do though to get yourself back on your feet.  It’s often not an easy task, but it is certainly a worthwhile one.  There is very little that can cause you the amount of stress financial problems can bring.

Financial problems are the number one cause of divorce in military families.  One in four individuals have over $10,000 in credit card debt.  Many of us not only don’t know where we are financially, but we have no idea how we got here!

The first step toward getting a handle on things is to track where you are spending your money, and that means making a list of what you are spending and where you’re spending it.  That includes those little costs too.  You may spend a lot of money on little items without realizing what’s happening.  By setting financial goals and creating a spending plan, you can get back on your feet.

For help in getting started, go to www.afterdeployment.com and download their financial workbook.  It will provide you with the forms you need to get started.  Anyone can get into trouble financially.  By taking charge of your finances, you’ll not only get yourself straightened out so you have the money you need to pay your bills, you’ll reduce the stress that comes with being in financial trouble, and that’s worth the effort!