Dear Feelings Doctor: I have a comment for you regarding your column to the question around negative self-talk. My daughter is 15 and has always felt shy and embarrassed about almost everything. I can tell you that she has such high expectations for herself, and it worries me that she is seriously critical of every step she takes. We have never put any demands on her like that, so I don’t understand where this comes from.

Is there something we should be doing for her?

— Lost Mom in Santa Barbara

Dear Lost Mom: Does she have siblings? Is there an underlying dynamic that may be causing her to be so critical? Fifteen is a rough time for teenagers in so many different ways. It may be difficult for her to talk to you, your husband and other family members about whatever is on her mind.

What she needs is a neutral person to share her feelings with. Find a counselor at her school or a professional where you live and see if she is open to going, knowing that this is just for her, about her and what she needs. The counselor will let you know if anything should be shared that is critical with your daughter. If she just needs a safe place to express her feelings, the professional will tell you that this is her time, her space and it will remain private.

Sometimes that’s what our children need — a person removed from the daily “ins and outs” of the family system, someone who will not take sides. Let her know that this is a natural and normal progression for her and that she will get some tools needed for this phase of her emotional and physical growth.

Dear Feelings Doctor: I have been working on my depression for 20 years, and every time I think I am getting better, something will knock me down again. How can I make any progress? What can I do on a daily basis to be happy?

— Carla

Dear Carla: There are several things you can do to help with depression. The very first step is to make sure that you have the green light from your doctor. Next, do some type of physical exercise every day — walk for at least 15 minutes, and visualize hearing your favorite music or seeing your favorite flowers as you walk. Remember the things in your life that you enjoy and spend time every day doing them when possible.

It takes just a few minutes a day to develop new habits that can help with your happiness. Bring those things into your life and see how that can lift your spirits. You have been working on your happiness you say now for 20 years, way to go! See what you are capable of accomplishing? Keep up the good work.

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Imagine This …

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” — Rabindranath Tagore

Happy Fourth!

— Psychotherapist Randi Rabin, M.A., MFTI, answers reader questions in her weekly Noozhawk column, The Feelings Doctor, and can be contacted at She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Antioch University Santa Barbara and completed her master’s degree in psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute under the guidance of renowned psychologist Stephen Aizenstat, Pacifica’s chancellor and founding president. She has worked as a counselor with a number of local nonprofit organizations and schools. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.