Author Archives: Karen Dean Fritts

Ghosts of Parenting

We can sometimes react to our children as a result of our relationship with others in our life gran-mum-and-daughterfrom OUR PAST!  Have you ever said that you would never do or say to your child that was done to you?  Then, one day you hear yourself sounding just like one of your parents and doing the very thing you said you would never do.  Our experience inside our family was our first relationship.  We as children were busy taking notes even if we don’t remember.  It is pretty hard to escape repeating some of those things our parents did that we did not like.  Most parents do their best.  We take a driver’s test to get a license but no test required to be a parent.   Hopefully, we learn as we go along.  Some things we will do better or perhaps differently than our parents.  Other stuff,  “not so good” patterns and behaviors get repeated as well.  We are Human and we make mistakes.

Child abuse is something that is often repeated.  Those are ghosts that must be dealt with in order to stop the destructive behavior from being passed from one generation to another.  Realizing that we are repeating what was done to us is the VITAL step toward changing the behavior.  If we deny what we are doing is harmful, we are doomed to repeat the cycle.

If you have done or said something that is reminds you of something “icky” in your childhood: tell them that you did/said something that reminded you of what your parents did to you. And most importantly, it was not kind or loving and you didn’t like it.   Then apologize…but make sure that apology sticks.  Both you and your children may need support and help in assisting you with ‘The Ghosts’.



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Your Brand of Creativity

Creativity has been given an exceedingly narrow definition in our society.  When we think of 0af4c5bcreative people in history, images of music or the pastels of Monet and Renoir come to mind.  Creativity is not that complicated.

Creativity is allowing us to “Play.”  It is a unique expression of what we are drawn to.   For example, there is no such thing as a ‘computer nerd’. The Computer is the palette just like the piano is for the musician or the canvas is for the painter.  It is what we do with it that matters.

The truth however, is that each of us has a creative piece inside of us.  It is important to know that creativity is not merely confined to the arts.  What about the inventor of the answering machine or the cheese grater? And how about everyday creative feats such as concocting a new recipe or dealing with a particularly tricky situation at work in an innovative way?  Creative capacities are expressed in a myriad of ways.

Music, theatre, and visual art are not the only forum for creative expression. Computer technology, electronics, and mathematics are areas where creative individuals express themselves everyday.  They are at “play” when they work!  The encouragement and acceptance of ‘freethinking’ in all areas can help everyone in society realize and appreciate their own creative potential!

Take a moment to think about you as the “Creative Artist” of your Life…what are YOU up to?



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Are You “Controlling”?

Yup! Is “control” such a bad thing? It is natural! Just take a look back to find out how we each do it.bad-relations

A certain amount of control is necessary in our lives – none of us would survive in chaos and total uncertainty. As babies and young children, we learned that a certain behavior caused a predictable result. This is not bad thing! We are smart! We begin noticing others and forming our behavior based on how others respond early in life. Just observe young children. They WATCH. They MIMIC. They then CREATE. We are ‘Social’ Animals who need and depend on others to thrive.

Our magnificent human brain takes ‘Notice’ of how others respond to us and is an expert at storing massive amounts of data. Just like a computer with its giant memory, we are gathering, storing and learning a specific roadmap that becomes our ‘Unique Self’.

That bring us back to how we take charge in our life. Everyone has a STYLE of control. An example is temper tantrums. Although most of us have long outgrown temper tantrums, some adults may still pout and manipulate to get his or her way. The silent treatment or withdrawal is simply a “dressed up” method used to control others. It might be thought of as a quiet temper tantrum. Even being excessively charming can be a subtle and effective style of control. Threats, punishments, or bribes are more obvious attempts at controlling the behavior of others. Physical ailments may be one of the most common yet unnoticed control devices. Take a moment to consider your methods of control. We all have them!



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To Eat or Not to Eat- The Tug of War!

Powders, pills, and potions, books, videos, and weight loss promises make weight loss one of emotional-eating-21the richest industries in the country. Wanting to lose weight (or change our body size and shape) is something many have dealt with at some point in life. For some, it is a painful and chronic issue. Most forms of diets, especially crash diets, get the fat off quickly, however, keeping the weight off – is another story.

A more permanent approach to ‘weight control’ is to understand the origins of overeating, and to then connect the awareness to our overall sense of Self. By doing this, women can come to know themselves and their motivations.

Since childhood, women are taught to be aware, if not judgmental, about their external appearances. The pressure to look and behave in certain ways may influence or cause weight gain. Weight gain is often a secret dialogue between you and YOU. “I will not conform and I will ‘feed’ myself (emotionally). It is the one thing I can control completely and give to myself.”

Emotional Eating is a Tug Of War. I want it – I can’t- I shouldn’t! THEN, I don’t care – I WILL have it! Then I judge myself for giving in and feel weak….and the cycle starts all over again. Sound familiar?

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Waking up ‘Selfish’??

What does “Selfish” mean and where does it come from?  We all know people who take more Evolution-does-not-favour-selfish-peoplethen their share – whatever it might be.  It might be a bigger piece of pie or they monopolize the conversation.  We all know people who share or give the minimum to anyone.

As strange as it may sound, sometimes being selfish is often an attempt to get rid of empty, lonely or bad feelings.  There are lots of ways of being selfish.  People who are selfish can horde, accumulate, and possess lots of “stuff”.  They often over indulge in food, drink, drugs etc.  Here’s a secret, Selfishness can come from ‘stuffing and shoving’ the most they can into themselves in order to feel better.   Does it work?  Nope!  Most likely, they are still unsatisfied- still “hungry”.  Until we are comfortable INSIDE we cannot ‘Share’.  Selfishness is the opposite of openness and generosity.

Some of us grow up not knowing or understanding the concept of sharing – simply because it was not demonstrated to us in our lives.   No infant is “born selfish”….just hungry.  We do not wake up one morning “selfish”.  It starts very early and is the result of a lifetime of complex experiences. Can we reverse the trend?  Certainly.  But not until we get to know the ‘Real Story’ about who we are.

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Struggles and difficulties, facing personal problems, and grappling with physical, or Compassion-During-Divorcepsychological pain are all part of Life’s Menu.  Compassion from others and toward you can begin to soothe the hurt and start the process of healing.  Compassion does NOT make a problem go away, but feeling less alone and more understood often gives us courage in dealing with our problems head on.

Check both sides of your ‘Compassion Scale’.  How easy is it for you to give?  How easy is it for you to receive from others?  They should be somewhat balanced!  If we think we don’t need anything from anyone, “because we are strong”, we have mistakenly LEARNED an unhelpful style of coping.  It just is not so!

So, be generous with your compassion when you see loved ones in need.  By the same token, do not be afraid or ashamed to accept the compassion that others offer to you. Needing kindness and caring from others is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of good health.  Keep remembering that we are Social Beings who require and thrive from the love and support of others.  It is another form of nutrition, every bit as important!

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Improve A Relationship: Be The Mirror!

In the book, “Getting The Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., he describes learning how couple-having-serious-conversation-articleto become a skilled listener requires repeated practice and discipline. He talks about the ability to MIRROR our partners.

Here is a little exercise…try it with your partner!

In “mirroring”, one partner expresses a statement, while the other partner listens and then mirrors back what was just said. Here is an example: “Bob” states, “I feel very frustrated when I am reading and you interrupt me, I have a very hard time concentrating. You don’t seem to care at about me.” “Sally” would restate what partner “Bob” just said. “You don’t like it when I interrupt you while you’re reading, it breaks your concentration. And it seems that I do not care about you.” Is that how you are feeling?”

Please don’t think this small task between partners is easy to do. It is not! It IS very easy for “Sally” (the one who is listening and restating) to get annoyed, defensive, or make a joke about “this ridiculous exercise.” Striving to hear what our partner is saying and ASKING our partner if we understood CORRECTLY is vital. This allows Bob to feel heard and understood, It also allows Sally (who may, in fact, not be accurately ‘hearing’, to listen to her partner carefully, without building a wall of defense.)

When we are triggered or upset, it is a known fact that our brains shut down and our ability to manage information declines dramatically. The Brain needs to cool down and by using the “Mirroring” exercise it helps to restore order in the midst of discomfort. Mirroring takes practice, however, there is everything to gain and nothing to lose!

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Mid-Life Changes – Yikes and Whoopee ~Don’t Do It Solo~

Many people are making career shifts in mid-life.  Is this a Mid-Life Crisis? Probably Not!  WE arebigstock-Senior-couple-in-sports-car-23188541 not talking about forced career changes because of changing economic conditions.  That’s a different topic.  We are talking about people who give up an excellent job and take a pay cut or risked life savings to launch a second career. More people are “Reinventing Themselves”.  Since people are living routinely into their late seventies, eighties, and nineties, it doesn’t seem as surprising that a person who has worked for a long time at something WANTS and may need A CHANGE!  After a job or profession of twenty or thirty years and still many years of productivity ahead… many of us might long to venture out and try ‘our hand’ at something else.  The healthy brain needs a certain ‘Novelty’ or change.  However, it also takes courage and some risk tolerance to make a career leap.  There are no guarantees that a new career will work out as planned, however, for many the boredom and burn out may become intolerable.  Boredom is an enemy of a happy brain.  The perfect balance of challenge and newness without too much risk and upheaval makes us humans pretty content.  Is it easy to achieve? Of course not!  Changing careers mid-life can be liberating or difficult.  A certain amount of uncertainty is part of the process of change. As for some couples, it creates tension and turmoil in the home during the transition and for others excitement.  Whatever is happening, do not do this in a Vacuum. Being part of a couple and family means ‘having conversations’.  Making solo life decisions create the possibility of other’s deep resentments and blame.  And maybe even guilt on your part.  That means start the conversation at the beginning. Whenever you are ‘aware’ of having thoughts about making changes, talk about it.  Open lines of communication are a must for every one involved.  Exchanging thoughts, ideas, wishes, fears, questions and dreams about any big change is the first most important step.


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Stress to Grow By: 
Finding the “Just Right” Place for You

How many times do we say or hear “I am sooooo stressed”. Stress reduction or stress management might start with “Stress Identification”. Eustress, or U stress a word and theorycalm-stress developed by Dr. Hans Selye in the 1930’s is defined as a healthy and growth-producing energy that actually provides our life force. Without U-stress, life would be inert or without movement. We have all experienced times where we felt pretty lethargic, unmotivated. At the extreme….like a lump or a blob. The other end of that extreme is “frazzled” and completely “stressed out”. The middle is where we want to be. If it were not for healthy stress, goals and achievements would be impossible to attain. Stress can help us mobilize our thoughts and physical energies toward completing tasks that are pleasurable, creative, and productive. Distress is beyond the limits of providing a healthy stimulus. According to the dictionary, distress is defined as extreme pain, anguish of body or mind. So with that in mind, we can understand why living with too much stress is bad for the body and mind!

In this amazing time in history, it is hard NOT to live a complex life. First and foremost, the abundance of choices that greet us at every moment of every day, we are constantly and chronically making choices, some easy and pleasant and some difficult. A mundane example is the 500 to 1000 television and movie channels we now choose from. You can actually spend a whole lot of time just browsing the guide, beginning to have less of an idea of what you want. What began as pleasant stimulation became overstimulation and can create annoyance and distress! TOO much to choose from! The Costco World of today or Malls of America are general examples of simple needs morphing into massive amounts of choices. At times, Fun? Fascinating? Too Much? Want More? What’s your take?

Achieving a healthy balance between stimulating energy that produces aliveness and a sense of well-being is the goal. Recognizing when you reach “Tension Overstimulation” that creates stress is something you can watch for. How well do YOU tell the difference in your life between “just right and too much”? It may be a helpful step toward putting your life in order the way YOU would like it to be!


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Social Media and Loneliness

With almost every individual having access to social media, an interconnected world of diverse connections that people can have with other individuals daily, whether they personally know them or not. It is surprising to discover that there is a possible connection between social media and loneliness. The video, The Innovation of Loneliness, delves into the topic of exactly how social media is shaping society and potentially having a negative effect on the brain. As the video states, “In a world where we collect friends like stamps…we are sacrificing connection for mere conversation.” This video is short but impactful and really speaks to the truths and wonders of being fully “connected.