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The Blog

Filtering by Tag: emotional awareness

Lessons from Infancy: Cry Baby, Cry

Emily Porta

From time to time, people sit in my office and cry. But then, they apologize for it, feel embarrassed, overwhelmed and insecure by the tears streaming down their face. Tears have a voice. They are saying something too. Infants have no troubles crying. It is how they communicate. There are different cries for different needs or emotions. And just like infants, we cry differently depending on the emotion. Have you ever laughed with a friend until you cried. Oh! What a wonderful feeling! Or have you ever been so overwhelmed that words could not express and so you cried, relieving so much tension. That is a good feeling as well. 

The other day I heard a little boy say to his father, "you know you are tough if you don't cry. I am tough." His father kinda blew him of. What an opportunity to teach! Actually, it is brave to cry as an adult. We feel childlike often when we cry, but it is a primal thing to do. This comes back to being comfortable in our own skin with our own feelings. 

If you ever come to my counseling office, I have 3 boxes of tissues, because I am comfortable with the tears. Being a therapist means listening to them, as they each fall and understanding what they are trying to convey. So next time you need to cry, do it. Don't apologize. Feelings are feelings, they don't need an apology, they need to be expressed.

​​​​​​​Lessons from Infancy: Emotions are meant to be shared!

Emily Porta

How many times do you stuff down what you are feeling? Or maybe you don't even know what you feel sometimes. I can't tell you how often I hear (and sometimes from my own mouth) people excusing their feelings and rationalizing their way out of embracing themselves and their truth. Ever heard "well it could be a lot worse," or "it wasn't THAT bad, at least I am not as bad off as this other person"? Those are red flags that we aren't just accepting of our simple emotions. I say often: they are just emotions, they won't kill you. 

Babies get this...to the core. If they are sad, they cry. If they are happy, they coo or giggle. If they are scared, they show it. These are feelings, simple feelings and they understand the importance of sharing them. If they don't share them, then their parents won't know how to respond to them. A healthy parent and child relationship looks something like this: Mommy tickles baby, baby laughs so mommy continues to tickle baby as long as baby shows enjoyment. There is an expression and a response. With unhealthy attachment, their is a lack of expression OR a lack of response. While as adults, we know we cannot anticipate the response of others or have control over it, we can choose our own behaviors and expressions of emotions. We also can choose who is safe to express our feelings to. When baby cries, Daddy holds the baby, comforts the baby and listens for why the baby is crying. If you are a parent you know that not every cry means sadness. Sometimes babies cry out of tiredness, boredom, fear, or hunger. 

That brings me to another point, the shades of emotions are important. How often do we cry and say we are sad. In reality we might be WAY more than sad. There can be layers of emotions and they are nuanced. The more we express them, the more we understand ourselves. If you don't give a voice to your emotions, your body will speak for you - which is why we get upset stomachs, random pains, headaches, increased blood pressure or nightmares. Babies don't want any of that. They know the importance of expressing emotions. 

The reason I started this series is because I want you to know, we all used to be babies and we were born with a lot of wisdom and greatness. Sometimes therapy is a way to awaken us back to what we were originally born with. So the next time you want to dismiss your feelings, STOP and really think - what is the harm in saying "I am angry, lonely, scared or frustrated?" These are your emotions, that need to be shared and heard and typically when they are...they lose their power over us and we find ourselves, valuing who we are and what we feel. 

Anger Management

Emily Porta

I use the term “anger management” because it is a familiar phrase used in our culture. Secretly, I don’t really care for this term. Managing anything reminds me of trying to herd cats – um, truly frustrating. When I work with people that have anger issues, it really is about understanding the anger. (cue the “getting to know you” tune from Sound of Music) Often, people that come to me seeking anger management are truly filled with many feelings other than anger that they don’t know how to express. Anger has been the easiest or quickest way to alleviate the inside tension. But anger is complex and needs more than management. It needs attention, care, nurturing, healthy expression and healing. Anger when addressed properly can be a pathway into a better understanding of ones self.  Here are some signs that you may need help with addressing your anger:

• Your work is being impacted – others at work may have told you that you are “hot headed” and you need to keep your cool. Maybe you have been fired or walked away from a job in the heat of the moment.  Some find it hard to focus and are consumed with their frustration at their job, to the point that they don’t get their work done, alienate themselves or others, and even resort to intimidating those around them.

• Your relationships are chaotic – maybe you get into fights with your partner – this can be verbal (yelling, intimidation, cursing), physical (hitting, pushing, slapping) or emotional (put downs, hurtful sarcasm) Either way, you take your frustrations out on your partner.

• You get physical – now this isn’t everyone but some people do physically express their anger in an unhealthy way – hitting others, hurting themselves (burning, scarring) or lashing out towards things (punching holes in walls).

• You feel out of control – even if people don’t notice your anger, if you feel like you are on edge and just about to “lose it” then that is something that deserves attention.

Don’t wait until things are so out of control – get help now! You don’t have to struggle and try to control your anger alone. Counseling can bring understanding and growth.

Stop and Taste the Broccoli

Emily Porta

Huh? Well, you know, not everything smells like roses. There are things that happen in daily life, joyful and painful that sometimes get overlooked. How often do we pause and think about what we are doing in each moment. You sit down for dinner...whether that be on your couch or at the table - the tv is going, the kids are talking, someone just sent you a text and you look down and you ate your dinner. Or maybe you are driving to work, listening to the radio, noticing the traffic and all of a sudden - you are at work and you can't even remember how you got there. You may think multi tasking is getting you somewhere, but sometimes we are distracted and our brains are never given the chance to enjoy a split second of something we are doing or something that we feel. I encourage you to take 1 "mundane" task that you do every day, and stop for 30 secs and open up your awareness to a new experience. Notice all your senses - taste, touch, smell, sight, and your internal senses- emotions and thoughts. You might be surprised that the broccoli doesn't taste so bad after all.