Anger Talk with Local MOPS Group

Anger takes away the calm, the peaceful, the rational. In our anger, we no longer are neat and put together. It exposes our raw emotions and wounds. We do stupid things as rage happens.

Have you ever said, "OH MY GOD why did I just yell at the kids!" or "WHY am I so angry?!" or "I shouldn't be angry!"

You are not alone. Anger is a part of being human. It's part of our brains and make-up. It's a stress reaction/instinct, like "fight or flight". Did you know that behind sexual attraction/arousal, anger is the 2nd most powerful emotion we experience!

In the heat of the moment, it's impossible to think and tease out your feelings. Here's an example that took me years to figure out...

I get so angry when my husband doesn't answer a question I have asked him within a few seconds. It could be a totally unimportant question like 'where's the trash bags?' At first, I thought I was angry because he wasn't listening or paying attention to me. But the more I pondered, I realized I get angry because I hate to be ignored.

And I hate to be ignored because it makes me feel unimportant, like I don't matter. Finding the root of my anger wasn't a picnic. It took a good 2-3 years of marriage and several anger moments to realize and explain to my hubby that...

"I feel angry when you don't answer me right away when I ask you a question because it makes me feel unimportant. I need to feel valued by you and when this happens, I feel worthless."

So let's talk about dealing anger better:

When you are angry, this is NOT the time to speak your truth or act out! Instead, literally bite your tongue. This is your signal. STOP. Now don't pretend that these emotions and feelings are just going to go away. No way. This is to just keep you from making serious mistakes.

Some people have codewords when they are getting overwhelmed, stressed, upset. Our house, we call a TIMEOUT. This means, get away/leave me alone for a little bit/stop talking to me/don't provoke me/do not corner me/give me space. It takes practice to call a timeout at the right time

Some experts say it's not ok to leave or just walk away. I don't agree with this, make sure your kids are safe, let your family know you need a break but you will be back. You need to calm down and clear head so you don't do further damage. So it's ok to lock yourself in the bathroom for 20 seconds of peace.

Some people can take some deep breaths, count to 10, check your pulse and count heart beats, say a few calming words to calm down. This coping skill is called self-regulation/grounding. Another coping skill is emotion release, physically get that energy out (by exercising/running/push-ups/situps/jumping jacks, walking, cleaning, baking, tearing up paper, smashing play-doh)! Others find, distraction work best for them like listen to radio, tv, do a puzzle, play a game.

Throwing/damaging things, yelling, cursing, hitting, screaming in the moment may seem like an appropriate response but really they are NOT good coping mechanism. What good really came out of these? So why then do these actions calm us? Because it's a transfer of energy.

Think of your anger like a red ball of light (anyone see the movie Inside Out). This red ball is internal energy. When you are angry or in a rage, you are throwing those red balls of energy all over the place in your head. Our bodies natural reaction is to get rid of this energy.

No matter what your coping skill is... CLEAR YOUR HEAD and DIFFUSE THE RED BALL OF ENERGY: there are alternatives to violence: use a coping skill. No matter what it is, clear your head because hurting others, yourself or property is NEVER ok.

After that initial rush of anger energy is past, now is time to NAME YOUR EMOTIONS. Try to express how you feel. A way of doing this is with "I statements". For example, I used one above when talking about my experience with my husband, "I feel angry when you don't answer me right away when I ask you a question because it makes me feel unimportant. I need to feel valued by you and when this happens, I feel worthless."

"I feel...when you...because...I need..." Using I statements makes you own your emotions and keeps you from blaming others. This also makes you think out your feelings so you don't just ignore them.

So we all make mistakes and we all have anger in our past that we need to deal with. Don't just say "sorry". Work to heal the wounds inflicted by anger by acknowledging your abusive behavior, naming your emotions and finding tools to help you change like the ones I talked about today.

So in review
1) STOP-recognize early signs of angry and take a time out
2) CLEAR YOUR HEAD and DIFFUSE YOUR ENERGY-use a coping skill or 2 that best fits you
3) NAME YOUR EMOTIONS-try using I statements to clearly state how you feel
4) DEAL WITH THE PAST-take responsibility for times that you have missed up and work to better them

I hope that you leave here ready to take on anger and feel more prepared. -Dr. Errin

How I Found Community Among Women Who Have Been Slayin' since 1869

This is a reflective piece I wrote immediately following my experience after attending Leader Development Days (LDD) hosted by United Methodist Women (UMW) in St. Louis MO Nov. 11-13, 2016. Find out more about UMW HERE

I have always been compelled to be a leader. You know the kid on the playground that organized the other children into a silent standing strike until the kickballs were returned to the playground, that's me! How about the college student who wanted to take the Biology Club on a camping trip in the wilderness of Tennessee with a zero budget yet found a way, me again! More recently, who is that crazy doctor who is shouting about needing change in the current medical system to stop physician burnout and the damage it is causing to the very professionals who render great care, you got!

But the sad truth is, until very recently, I was convinced the only place I could lead would be in my professional life. I had always felt a chasm down the middle of my faith life. How could God create me with an instinctive desire for leadership and equip me with strong gifts and talents but yet not have an appropriate outlet for me to lead? Why was I told "I'm special and uniquely made" but not equal when it came to ministry and mission? Why would I be prepped for leadership then left outside a closed door?

Growing up in a faith tradition that absolutely did not allow female pastors or high level leadership position, I matured in a system where I would either have to blaze my trail outside of ministry or become a pastor's wife or global missionary if I wanted to be in Christian leadership. (Retrospectively viewing my career choice, I choose medicine because it is still engaged in mission and service. And also if you know me, I don't play well as the "sweet, quiet, support only" spouse.)

Needless to say, for as long as I can remember, I DESIRED to lead! It fuels me and makes me tick. So I was intrigued when at church, we received a new minister and she was a she!

Leaning back on my past experience, I thought, "Woah, is this ok?" So, like any good problem solver, I went to the source and started to develop a dialog and relationship with our new pastor (Logananne McCullough) at our church (Otwell United Methodist). She asked me if I knew anything about United Methodist Women and invited me to explore UMW. Through the local UMW district newsletter, I discovered more about Limitless and decided to attend. Limitless 2016 was pivotal in breaking down the my walls of limitation. The event revealed to me new truth of who I am in the eyes of God and that I was fully accepted as I was, a woman leader, in my church and especially in UMW.

After Limitless, I was pulled aside by our conference president Cathy Burris (who at the time, I didn't realize was actually "the big cheese" of this UMW stuff in Indiana). She looked me in the eyes and spoke the exact truth that I had been feeling in my heart for years, "Errin, you are so gifted and I see leadership potential in you." She went on further by asking, "How can I and UMW help develop this?" I told Cathy that being a mother of 3 and family medicine physician, I literally have no additional time for more meetings or taking on another traditional leadership position. Cathy appreciated my honesty and then later emailed me about a leadership training opportunity in St Louis. I explored the UMW Leadership Development Days on my phone while feeding my 3 month old after finishing up a long office day at about 2am and decided right there and then I would go for this weekend conference. Little did I know that 4 months down the road, I would become part of a community of women I had been searching for.

The conference started off like many I have attended with workshops. My first workshop was discerning to lead which helped each participate examine our leadership style and explore the gifts of others. It was insightful but really I began to feel the undertones of something more. I realized soon this would be called the "Sisterhood of Grace." It sounds a little woo-woo at first but as I sat quietly, I began to realize these women around me truly wanted to listen. Dialogue and participation was open, respectful and brave as we shared, prayed, learned and listened to one another. Many topics were entirely new to me, such as: particular events of climate justice, the ongoing criminalization of communities of color and different perspectives on economic inequality within our culture. My other workshops focused on leadership in the church and (my favorite) communication across the generations. Not only was I a participate, I felt as though I was a contributor.

Prior to leaving, I told my husband that I was going to just try to blend in with the ladies. Many times once others find out I'm in healthcare, I feel as I am labeled. Either I become the "go-to" for everything medical or I'm unapproachable because of others preconceived ideas of "what doctors are." So my whole goal was to fly low on the radar and just be a woman. Well, God evidently had other plans.

The first plenary session on Saturday morning started great. The beautiful speaker started the responsive reading and suddenly collapsed. What happens, my doctor brain kicked in and God said, "Move!" Soon, our ill sister was surrounded by a qualified team of nurses, retired EMTs, hospital techs and me. 911 responders and EMS soon arrived and got her to the nearest hospital. During this time, the room cleared and everyone attending was praying.

I was reminded from this one event, I cannot hide the gifts and talents I have been equipped with. I couldn’t just go “be one of the ladies” because God has purposefully placed skills in me and when it's time to go and he calls, I go!

Many felt overwhelmed by the realization on how quickly life can change in a second! To go from addressing hundreds to being served by the ones you were just getting ready to nurture, amazing. I also know it was testament to other attendees that God does provide. I had hugs and sighs of relief thanking me for being in attendance. But what did I really do? Mostly provided direction while awaiting for advanced technologies and medical personnel to arrive. I didn't even have a stethoscope on me. In the moment, I felt helpless but to the other women around, I provided them hope and support by just being present.

So as much as Limitless reassured me of my calling and value, LDD confirmed in me that my leadership is valued and desired. I am far from being alone and this is only the beginning of what God can accomplish through me. Ladies, UMW has empowered me.

Cathy, being the great mentor she is, continues to ask me, " How can the conference or district better engage you and other young women?" I encourage each and every reader to focus on one woman. Maybe she is young or perhaps she is just young at heart but be present for her, really listen, drop your preconceived notions and hear her needs. Maybe she doesn't want to come to meetings, coordinate VBS or do funeral dinners but that doesn't mean you have to stop if you enjoy these activities. Instead, find out the experience she is asking for. The only way to know is ask questions and then just shut up and listen. This is how UMW "caught" me. A community of women who are actively living the purpose to know God and to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ; to develop a creative, supportive fellowship; and to expand concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the church.

I leave you with the prayer slip written out to me by a fellow UMW LDD participate with the following message:
"May you always be filled with the "unreasonable" love of Christ to go forth and be the hands, feet and voice you are called to be. Be bold and courageous in all your efforts."

What the World Needs to Hear

Negativity is spewing from everywhere lately. Hatred and downright ugliness seem to be infiltrating and saturating everyone's minds. I say (in my momma's-upset-we-better-straighten-up voice) ENOUGH. STOP. NO MORE.

So, here is my antidotes against the poison surrounding all of us. I pray it will enrich, encourage and nourish your mind, body and soul.

No matter what terms you use to describe your external or internal self, you are more than those labels.

You are full of worth and worthy of love despite whatever or whoever have suggested otherwise.

You are a sacred, special work of art created so uniquely there never have been nor will be another you.

Even more amazing is you were created in this span of time during this point in history for a purpose.

Claim your personal power, use your strengths, become passionate in a way that only you can.
Embrace that you are actually an expert, an expert for your life.

Take faith in knowing you can endure beyond hard times, harsh people and challenging situations.

As long as you have breath and a pulse, there is hope. Cling to hope.

Every circumstance, statement, action creates a choice, choose to love.

I believe that the world is better because you are in it.

This article was inspired by a recent young women's conference, Limitless, organized by the Indiana UMW. During a presentation on "The Bible and Human Sexuality," this video by Rachel Platton touched my heart and soul so I share with you.


Be Well!
Dr Errin

My Mother’s Day Will Have More Meaning This Year

I had not really embraced Mother’s Day. I always perceived it more of a “Hallmark Holiday.” I very much appreciate the women in my life who have molded, protected, nurtured and endured me. Small gifts, flowers, cards tell them thanks but never really seemed more than superficial.

Until now.

Perhaps, it’s the sleep deprivation of a newborn or that I’ve become more sentimental having added a little girl to Team Weisman in the last 3 weeks. But this year, the week of Mother’s Day 2016, I feel like a true mother. It’s taken 4+ years to sink in but now, I finally have had the time I needed to reflect and fully embrace my motherhood.

Here’s what happened:

  1. I took a deep look and actually mourned my “before children” self, accepting she would never return and letting go of that life.
  2. Then walked down memory lane, cherishing the small celebrations and big moments of the past few years but also forgiving myself where I felt I had failed or been defeated as a parent.
  3. Finally, I accepted today, fully embracing the beautiful mess that it is while looking forward to the future days to come.

So this Mother’s Day, I want more than it to be “happy” for you. My prayer is that you also embrace your motherhood. Dive in, feel the emotions that go along with everything mom. Relive the pains, aches, anxiety along with the all consuming, marvelous peace, love and joy. Swim in the depths of memories.  Float in the blessings of your children.

Not only are your children uniquely created, but you, beloved, are fearfully and wonderfully made as well. Time to claim it all, you will not fail!

Let me share a beautiful song "Slow Down" by Nichole Nordeman that touched me during this journey.

Children of the Secondhand Smoke (Mommy-ing Well Series)

Children of the Secondhand Smoke (Mommy-ing Well Series)

Think about it, if you are a non-smoker, you can pick out a smoker quickly. Just by simply walking by someone, any non-smoker can smell the cigarette smoke even if they haven’t light up in days. Smokers emit smoke smell from their clothing, belongings and even their own skin.

So the myth that, “we smoke outside”  is just that, A MYTH.

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Treating Chronic Pain (Mommy-ing Well Series)

Treating Chronic Pain (Mommy-ing Well Series)

If you are one of many that are living with chronic pain, the reality you wake up to daily is that you will never be totally pain-free. Sad but true.

Physicians want to help, not hurt. Our vow is to “First, do no harm.” Pain medications are easily misused and abused. Dependence of these medications leads to abuse and addiction. I spent too many years training and learning that I refuse to become someone's drug dealer/supplier. But as a primary care physician, this is reality that I daily struggle against.

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