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Friday, July 19, 2024

10 Symptoms of Mom Burnout: How to Overcome Them and Find Balance

Friday, July 19, 2024 @ 10:35 AM

Imagine this: You’re trying to finish an important work email, your toddler is tugging at your leg demanding a snack, the laundry is piling up, and you just realized you forgot to defrost tonight’s dinner. Sound familiar? If you’re nodding your head, you might be experiencing what many of us know as mom burnout.

Hi there! I’m Kelly, a mom of four amazing (and let’s be honest, sometimes exhausting) kids, with a master’s degree in counseling and over 15 years of experience working with wonderful moms like you. I’ve been in the trenches, juggling school drop-offs, work deadlines, and everything in between. That’s why I’m passionate about helping other moms recognize and overcome the symptoms of burnout.

In this blog post, we’re going to dive into the 10 clear signs of mom burnout and practical ways to tackle them. Because let’s face it – you deserve to feel happy, healthy, and fulfilled. So, grab a cup of coffee (or tea), find a cozy spot, and let’s get started!

Understanding Mom Burnout: What It Is and Why It Matters

Mom burnout is more than just feeling tired—it's a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by the relentless demands of motherhood. Whether you're a stay-at-home mom, working mom, or somewhere in between, the pressures of juggling family responsibilities, work, and personal needs can take a significant toll. Understanding what mom burnout is and recognizing its symptoms are crucial steps toward reclaiming your well-being.

When left unaddressed, burnout can impact not only your health but also your relationships and overall quality of life. By identifying the signs early and implementing strategies to manage stress, you can break free from the burnout cycle and find a healthier, more balanced approach to motherhood.

Top Indicators of Mom Burnout: Recognize These 10 Key Signs

1. Constant Fatigue
Feeling exhausted all the time, even after a full night's sleep? This isn’t just about being tired—it's a sign your body is overworked and your mind is overwhelmed. When you’re constantly on the go with little time to rest, fatigue can creep in and become a constant companion.

Quick Tip: Try setting a consistent bedtime, sneak in short naps when possible, and don’t hesitate to ask for help to lighten your load. (P.S. please do not feel guilt for taking naps…it took me YEARS to ‘allow’ myself to do this and that is such a waste of self-love).

2. Irritability and Mood Swings
Finding yourself snapping at your kids or partner over minor things? Mood swings and irritability are common signs of burnout. The stress and lack of downtime can make you feel like you’re on edge, leading to emotional outbursts.

Quick Tip: Practice mindfulness or deep-breathing exercises to help manage your emotions. Even a few minutes a day can make a significant difference.

3. Feeling Overwhelmed
Does your to-do list feel never-ending? Feeling overwhelmed is a major indicator of burnout. When every task seems monumental and you’re struggling to keep up, it’s a clear sign that you’re stretched too thin.

Quick Tip: Ever heard of brain dumping? It has been a LIFE SAVER for me. Break tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Prioritize what truly needs to be done and don't be afraid to delegate or let go of less critical tasks.

4. Lack of Interest in Activities
Remember those hobbies and activities you used to love? If they no longer bring you joy or you can’t find the motivation to engage in them, this could be a sign of burnout. Losing interest in things that once made you happy is your mind's way of signaling that it’s overwhelmed.

Quick Tip: Schedule time for yourself, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. Rediscover old hobbies or explore new ones that make you feel good.

5. Physical Symptoms
Burnout doesn’t just affect your mind—it takes a toll on your body too. Common physical symptoms include headaches, muscle tension, and frequent illnesses. Your body is trying to tell you that it needs a break.

Quick Tip: Incorporate regular exercise into your routine, maintain a balanced diet, and ensure you’re staying hydrated. Simple self-care practices can significantly improve how you feel physically.

6. Difficulty Concentrating
Struggling to focus on tasks or forgetting important details more often than usual? Difficulty concentrating is a hallmark sign of burnout. When your brain is overloaded with stress, it becomes harder to focus and retain information.

Quick Tip: Take regular breaks to give your mind a rest, practice brain exercises like puzzles or reading, and reduce multitasking to improve focus.

7. Feeling Numb or Detatched
Do you feel emotionally numb or disconnected from your loved ones? Burnout can cause you to shut down emotionally as a coping mechanism, making it hard to connect with your feelings and those around you.

Quick Tip: Engage in activities that foster emotional connection, such as meaningful conversations with loved ones, practicing gratitude journaling, or seeking professional help if needed.

8. Increased Cynicism or Resentment
Have you noticed a growing sense of cynicism or resentment towards your parenting role or family responsibilities? Feeling negative or bitter about your daily tasks is a strong indicator of burnout.

Quick Tip: Focus on the positive aspects of your life (this will take a lot of practice and consistency), set realistic expectations for yourself, and consider joining a supportive community or mom group to share experiences and find encouragement.

9. Decreased Performance
Are you finding it harder to complete tasks or feeling less productive than usual? Burnout can significantly impact your efficiency and performance, making it difficult to keep up with daily responsibilities.

Quick Tip: Set achievable goals, establish a consistent routine, and celebrate small victories to boost your sense of accomplishment and motivation.

10. Isolation
Do you find yourself withdrawing from social interactions and feeling isolated? Burnout often leads to social withdrawal as you try to conserve energy and cope with overwhelming stress.

Quick Tip: Make an effort to reach out to friends, join mom groups or online communities, and schedule regular social activities to stay connected and supported.

Navigating Burnout in Moms: What’s Next??

Did you check off most, if not all, of the signs of burnout? Take a deep breath, Mama. Feeling overwhelmed is more common than you think. You’re in good company—we’ve all been there. Now, let’s talk solutions!

1. Acknowledge and Validate Your Feelings
You’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Many moms experience burnout, and it’s okay to admit it. Take a deep breath and recognize that your feelings are valid.

2. Prioritize Self-Care
Remember the oxygen mask analogy on airplanes? You need to take care of yourself first before helping others. Prioritize self-care—whether it’s a quiet cup of tea, a walk, or a few minutes of meditation. You deserve it.

3. Seek Support
Reach out to fellow moms, friends, or family members. Share your feelings and ask for help. Sometimes, just talking to someone who understands can make a world of difference.

4. Embrace Imperfection
You don’t have to be a supermom. It’s okay if the laundry piles up or if you order takeout for dinner. Embrace imperfection—it’s part of being human.

5. Consider Professional Guidance
As a mom life coach, I’m here for you. Let’s work together to create a personalized plan. Whether it’s setting boundaries, rediscovering your passions, or finding joy in small moments, coaching can make a difference.

Conclusion: Mom Burnout Solutions and Reclaiming JOY

Mama, if you’ve nodded along to most of these signs, you’re not alone. Burnout isn’t a badge of honor—it’s a wake-up call. So, what’s the key takeaway?

Acknowledge It: Constant fatigue, irritability, and feeling overwhelmed? Recognize these signs as your body’s SOS.

Self-Care Matters: Prioritize yourself guilt-free. Set bedtime routines, sneak in naps, and ask for help. Remember, self-love isn’t selfish.

Brain Dump Your Tasks: That never-ending to-do list? Break it down. Prioritize. Delegate. Let go of non-essentials.

Rediscover Joy: Hobbies collecting dust? Revisit them. Even 10 minutes a day can reignite your spark.

Listen to Your Body: Headaches, muscle tension, and frequent illnesses? Your body’s pleading for a break.

Focus, Mama: Difficulty concentrating? Take breaks, solve puzzles, and declutter your mind.

Connect Emotionally: Feeling numb? Engage in meaningful conversations. Journal. Seek professional help.

Flip the Script: Cynicism and resentment? Shift focus. Find the silver linings. Join a supportive community.

Prioritize Well-Being: Decreased performance? It’s okay. Prioritize well-being over perfection.

Remember, you’re not just a mom—you’re a whole universe of strength and love. Reach out, seek support, and consider professional guidance. You’ve got this….and I am here with you!!

With Love and a Whole Lot of Imperfection,
Kelly

Thursday, July 11, 2024

How to Recover from a Career Crisis

Thursday, July 11, 2024 @ 5:36 PM

If you have ever experienced any of the following, you have had a career crisis:
• Losing your job
• Being fired
• Burning out
• Not wanting to do your job for one more day
• Redefined job or seismic shift in career. (Staff quits/Kids go away to college)

A career crisis can be caused either by someone else (being laid off) or by your own feelings (burning out).

Common Causes of Career Crises
There are many reasons why people experience career crises. Here are a few:
• Corporate downsizing
• Burnout
• Relocating for your spouse’s career
• Being fired
• Making the wrong career move
• Corporate politics
• Not fitting in
• Lost calling

Why a Career Crisis Is So Devastating
A career crisis is almost always devastating because it can impact your life in so many ways. Here are a few examples:
1. Money: Losing your income with no warning can be financially devastating.
2. Status: If your job gives you status or a professional identity, you may feel devastated without it.
3. Surprise: If the job loss happens without warning, you will probably feel shocked.
4. Self-esteem: You may feel embarrassed by what has happened.
5. Feeling alone: You are likely to lose friends and companions when you no longer work in the same place.
6. Feeling out of synch: Your regular routine may be disrupted.
7. Confusion: If the crisis happens because of burnout or for reasons inside yourself, you may feel confused about what to do next.
8. Effect on others: If people around you depend on your income and need you to be predictable, they may react negatively to your crisis.

9. Loss of Identity: Many times a career will help define who you are as a person especially if you see it as a calling. “ 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” – Ecclesiastes 3:12 – 13. The loss can create a lack of interest, satisfaction and enjoyment in life.

Career Crisis: Who It Hurts the Most
A career crisis hurts you because it is devastating to your ego. The hurt tends to be greater when one gets a sense of identity and self-esteem from his or her job title, status, and income.
A crisis hurts your family because they must experience the emotional fallout that follows a crisis. Your family may also experience a feeling of lost self-esteem and status, especially if you were fired or laid off.

The Flashback Effect
A major loss like this sometimes can cause you to reach back into the past and reactivate unfinished business from a major loss, or a crisis from an earlier time.
For example, when Sharon was terminated after seven months at her dream job, she became very depressed. While depression is a normal reaction to such a loss, Sharon was reacting to losing her job and the similar feelings she had when she flunked out of a top university 12 years earlier. When she finally saw a therapist after a few weeks of depression following the job loss, she saw that she had never fully resolved her feelings about failing in college.

Here are some other points about recovery:
1. The process of recovering from a career crisis will happen on its own schedule. It can’t be rushed.
2. Every person responds to a career crisis differently. There is no right way to respond or to deal with it.
3. Depending on the circumstances, processing a career crisis can take years.
4. Build and use a support system. People need other people when they are experiencing such a crisis. A group of people who have experienced similar losses is especially helpful.
5. It is a good idea to find support outside of your family and friends. Even the most supportive may grow tired of hearing about your situation, or you may find yourself censoring your behavior to avoid alienating them. However, you still need help and a place to let your feelings out.
How to Help Someone in a Career Crisis
Here are a few ideas for being helpful to people going through career crises:

1. People need support when they are having a career crisis, even though they may seem to push you away.
2. Ask how you can help.
3. Don’t give advice unless asked. Listen, listen, and listen some more!
4. Check in regularly with the crisis victim; let him or her know you’re there.
5. Remind the crisis victim of what a good person he or she is, even without the identity and status that the job provided.
6. Sometimes a career crisis sends a person into a serious depression for which help is needed. If you sense danger, urge the crisis victim to seek help.

How to Turn a Crisis into a Victory

Here are some suggestions for turning a career crisis into a victory:

1. Give yourself time to heal. If recovery is rushed or interrupted, the crisis victim will not fully heal and a victory is not possible.
2. Remind yourself as often as necessary that your pain will end and you will eventually feel happy again.
3. Avoid jumping into something new on the rebound; let yourself experience all the stages of grief.
4. Accept that many people will not understand the depth of your grief. They will not understand why this is so difficult for you, and they will say stupid things.
5. Use the opportunity to stop and consider other options.
6. Explore what meaning your feelings have for you. If we pay attention to them, our feelings can lead us places we would otherwise never visit.
7. Keep a journal of your experiences. Make it your intention to see what there is to be learned from this experience.
8. A loss such as a career crisis can be viewed as both a door-closer and a door-opener. Start thinking about what you are learning and gaining from this experience.
9. Create a ceremony of letting go. Yours will be as unique as your experience.
10. Despite some people's misunderstanding do find people that are safe to share with where you can talk about your feelings and beliefs.

The Career Crisis Recovery Exercise
Write out your answers to the following questions. This self-help exercise can help you process your feelings about what has happened to you.
1. Describe what happened when your career crisis happened.
2. Describe the job or career. Where did you work? What was it like? Who did you work with? What do you miss the most? What do you not miss at all?
3. Describe your feelings about the loss of the job or career to others.
4. What has the impact of this crisis been on your life? What else have you lost because of your career crisis?
5. What barriers stop you from moving on?
6. What are 10 things you can do starting today to continue the recovery process?

Please pass this newsletter along to a friend.

Suggested Reading

Cloud, Henry, Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward Harper Business, 2011

William Bridges, Job Shift: How To Prosper In A Workplace Without Jobs. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1994.

Barry Glassner, Career Crash: The New Crisis—and Who Survives. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.

Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson, Career Burnout: Causes and Cures. New York: The Free Press, 1988.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

En La increíble influencia de los pensamientos y emociones positivas: Un manual para cultivar vínculos románticos más fuertes

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 @ 7:16 PM

Las relaciones románticas son uno de los aspectos más cautivadores de la experiencia humana, mezclando alegría, inspiración y desafíos. Basado en casi dos décadas de experiencia como terapeuta, este libro ofrece profundos conocimientos y una guía práctica para ayudar a las personas a mejorar sus relaciones consigo mismas y con los demás. Se enfoca en superar las luchas con el amor propio, a menudo enraizadas en traumas o sentimientos de indignidad, y proporciona herramientas para construir conexiones más fuertes y satisfactorias.

En La increíble influencia de los pensamientos y emociones positivas: Un manual para cultivar vínculos románticos más fuertes, descubrirás cómo cultivar la confianza, la positividad y la intimidad en tus relaciones románticas.

Este libro ofrece herramientas y estrategias prácticas para situaciones de la vida real, ayudándote a crear conexiones duraderas con tu pareja. Ya sea que estés soltero, comenzando un nuevo romance, navegando una relación a largo plazo, o reavivando una conexión existente, la sabiduría dentro de estas páginas te guiará. Este libro explora el impacto duradero del optimismo, la inteligencia emocional y la autocompasión, recordándonos que podemos moldear nuestras historias de amor a través de nuestros pensamientos y emociones. Aprenderás a fortalecer las bases de tus relaciones, trayendo vitalidad y alegría a tu viaje de amor. Se enfatiza el autodescubrimiento como un componente vital para crear vínculos románticos más fuertes, fomentando una comprensión más profunda y el cultivo de nuestras conexiones más profundas.

Aborda este viaje con un corazón abierto y una mente curiosa, y permite que estos conocimientos te empoderen para crear historias de amor florecientes en medio de las complejidades de la vida. Abraza el impacto profundo de los pensamientos y emociones positivas en la construcción de relaciones románticas sólidas y satisfactorias.

amazon.com/author/dr.remy.nelson 
https://youtu.be/PK5AgXUVFnA

The Incredible Influence of Positive Thoughts & Emotions: A Handbook for Cultivating Stronger Romantic Bonds

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 @ 7:04 PM

Romantic relationships are among the most captivating aspects of the human experience, blending joy, inspiration, and challenges. Drawing on nearly two decades of experience as a therapist, Dr. Remy Nelson offers profound insights and practical guidance in this book to help individuals improve their relationships with themselves and others. It focuses on overcoming struggles with self-love, often rooted in trauma or feelings of unworthiness, and provides tools to build stronger, more fulfilling connections.
In The Incredible Influence of Positive Thoughts and Emotions: A Handbook for Cultivating Stronger Romantic Bonds, you will discover how to cultivate trust, positivity, and intimacy in your romantic relationships. This book offers practical tools and strategies for real-life situations, helping you create lasting connections with your partner. Whether you are single, beginning a new romance, navigating a long-term partnership, or rekindling an existing connection, the wisdom within these pages will guide you.
This book explores the lasting impact of optimism, emotional intelligence, and self-compassion, reminding us that we can shape our love stories through our thoughts and emotions. You will learn to strengthen the foundations of your relationships, bringing vitality and joy to your journey of love. Self-discovery is vital in creating stronger romantic bonds, fostering a deeper understanding, and nurturing our most profound connections.
Approach this journey with an open heart and a curious mind, and let these insights empower you to create thriving love stories amidst life's complexities. Embrace the profound impact of positive thoughts and emotions on building solid and fulfilling romantic relationships.

amazon.com/author/dr.remy.nelson

The Ripple Effects of a Narcissistic Parent

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 @ 6:14 PM

In the Christian faith, parents are often seen as stewards of their children, tasked with fostering a loving, nurturing, and supportive environment for their offspring to grow and flourish. But what happens when a parent’s actions are driven by narcissism? A narcissistic parent, characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance and a profound lack of empathy, can cast long shadows on the family unit and the spiritual well-being of their children.

Emotional Turmoil

Children of narcissistic parents may grapple with emotional turmoil. Due to their parents' need for admiration and a lack of respect for boundaries, these children often feel under constant scrutiny, overshadowed by their parent's imposing egos. Their mercurial temper can create a household atmosphere that lacks the stability and peace championed in Philippians 4:7. Children, striving for the elusive approval of a narcissistic parent, may end up feeling unworthy and question their value, a feeling contrary to the Christian teaching that every individual is uniquely created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

Impaired Sense of Self and Identity

In navigating the turbulent waters of growing up with a narcissistic parent, children might struggle to develop a healthy sense of self and identity. The parent’s manipulation can lead children to doubt their own experiences and perceptions, hampering their ability to trust themselves and others – a trait that can lead them astray from the authentic relationships to which Christ calls us (Ephesians 4:15).

Challenges in Forming Relationships

Intimacy and trust are at the core of any meaningful relationship, virtues constantly encouraged in the Bible (1 John 4:7). However, the offspring of narcissistic parents might find these to be foreign territories. A child raised in the shadow of narcissism might become either excessively pleasers, seeking validation in all the wrong places, or conversely, they might become withdrawn, fearing the vulnerability that comes with close relationships.

Spiritual Struggles

Spiritual life can also become a battleground for those with narcissistic parents. The parent’s self-centered behavior may distort the child's perspective of God as a loving and sacrificial Father, as portrayed in scriptures like 1 John 3:1. Moreover, the parent’s disregard for empathy and humility can be at odds with the fruits of the Spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22-23.

Consequences of Conditional Love

Narcissistic parents often express 'conditional love' – affection based on the child’s ability to meet the parent's expectations. This transactional nature of love is discordant with the principles of unconditional love woven throughout the Christian narrative (Romans 5:8). As a result, children might grow to view God’s love through the same skewed lens, imagining it must be earned rather than freely given.

Path to Healing and Recovery

While the effects of having a narcissistic parent are profound, the Christian community provides many avenues for healing and restoration. The church can serve as a sanctuary, a place of unconditional love and acceptance. Engaging with a spiritual family allows for the experience of genuine relationships, fostering recovery and growth. Scripture and prayer can offer immense comfort and guidance; for instance, Psalm 34:18 proclaims that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.

Christian counseling can be a powerful tool for healing, providing a safe space to untangle the knots of one’s upbringing with a professional who understands the religious context of the individual's struggles. Support groups within the church community can also offer a collective shoulder to lean on – individuals who can empathize and share in the journey toward healing.

Conclusion

Growing up with a narcissistic parent can cast long shadows through a person's life, impeding their emotional, relational, and spiritual development. However, amidst these challenges, the Christian community stands as a beacon of hope, offering tools for healing and the assurance of God's unwavering love. Through faith, prayer, and the support of the church, individuals can overcome the shackles of their past and step into the light of a life defined not by their parent's narcissism, but by their own relationship with God.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Divinely Drawn Lines: Understanding When to Establish Boundaries

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 @ 3:30 PM

In the Scriptures, boundaries are often mentioned directly or indirectly, reflecting God’s design for order, protection, and relationships. They are inherent in the tenets of our faith—seen in the love and respect we are called to show each other and in the discipline we are to exercise in our personal lives. Yet, in our desire to live like Christ—who was giving, compassionate, and loving—we might find ourselves overstepping or completely ignoring our boundaries. Recognizing when to enforce these boundaries is crucial for our spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.

1. You Feel Constantly Drained

One clear sign that your boundaries need reinforcement is when you consistently feel exhausted. God calls us to serve others with joy, but He also emphasizes the importance of rest (Mark 6:31). If serving others or fulfilling roles in your community leaves you feeling drained of energy and peace, it might be time to reassess your commitments. Remember, even Jesus took time away from the crowds to pray and rest. It’s not selfish to take care of your well-being; it’s necessary to serve effectively.

2. Resentment is Building Up

Feeling resentful towards others can signal that your boundaries are not being respected. This often occurs when we say yes to tasks or roles out of obligation rather than genuine desire or calling. Colossians 3:23 encourages us to do everything heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. If resentment is overshadowing your ability to serve with love, it may be time to set or enforce boundaries.

3. Your Relationships Are Suffering

When boundaries are lacking, relationships can become strained or dysfunctional. This is evident when interactions are dominated by guilt, manipulation, or co-dependence, deviating from the Biblical model of relationships rooted in mutual respect and love (Ephesians 4:2-3). Healthy boundaries enable us to interact with kindness, respect, and genuine affection, reflecting God’s love more accurately to those around us.

4. You're Neglecting Your Relationship with God

Your relationship with God should be your utmost priority. If you find that your commitments are eating into the time and energy you have for prayer, meditation on the Word, and other spiritual disciplines, it’s a strong indicator that your boundaries need revisiting. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Ensuring our spiritual well-being enables us to be better vessels for His work.

5. You Struggle to Hear God’s Voice

Similar to the previous point, an overfilled life can drown out the still, small voice of God. When we’re stretched too thin, our spiritual sensitivity can diminish, making it harder to discern God’s direction and leading. Setting boundaries gives us the space to quiet down, listen, and be led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14).

6. Your Physical Health is Affected

The Bible acknowledges our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). If the demands of serving others or fulfilling duties compromise your physical health, it indicates that boundaries are needed. God does not call us to sacrifice our health for ministry or service but to steward it wisely as part of our worship of Him.

Enforcing Healthy Boundaries: A Step Forward in Faith

Acknowledging the need for and setting boundaries may be challenging, especially if you’re accustomed to saying yes or prioritizing the needs of others above your well-being. However, enforcing boundaries is not just about saying no; it’s about making room for God’s best in your life and aligning yourself with His design and purpose for you.

Start with Prayer

Begin by seeking God’s wisdom and guidance through prayer. Ask Him to show you where boundaries are needed and the strength to implement them.

Seek Wise Counsel

Consulting with a pastor, a mentor, or a trusted friend can provide you with perspective and support as you navigate the process of establishing boundaries.

Communicate Clearly and Lovingly

When setting boundaries, communicate them, directly, and with love. Remember, setting boundaries is not about pushing others away but inviting them into a healthier and more God-honoring interaction.

Be Prepared for Resistance

Change can be hard, and not everyone will understand or respect your need for boundaries immediately. Stand firm, and remember that obedience to God’s leading is your priority.

Conclusion

Enforcing boundaries is an act of obedience and wisdom. It protects what God has entrusted to you—your time, your health, your relationships, and most importantly, your relationship with Him. By recognizing the signs that boundaries are needed and taking steps to implement them, you open up space for peace, fruitfulness, and a deeper walk with Christ. Remember, boundaries are not just barriers but the framework within which a healthy, vibrant, and God-honoring life can flourish.

Monday, June 24, 2024

How to Stop Negative Thought Patterns: Tools to Cultivate a Positive Mindset

Monday, June 24, 2024 @ 3:36 PM

In our quest for personal growth and well-being, one of the most significant battles can be with the very thoughts that fill our minds. Negative thought patterns can be incredibly destructive, perpetuating cycles of anxiety, depression, and limiting self-beliefs. However, breaking free from these patterns is within reach if you have the right strategies. Let’s explore practical ways to interrupt negative thoughts and foster a more positive, resilient mindset.

1. Awareness and Identification

The first step in changing any behavior, including thinking, is to become aware of it. Often, negative thoughts are automatic and habitual, making it challenging to recognize them as they occur. Start by actively monitoring your thoughts throughout the day. When you catch yourself spiraling into negativity, pause and note the thought. Labeling thoughts as "negative" or writing them down can distance you emotionally and help you analyze them objectively.

2. Challenge and Replace

Once you've identified a negative thought, challenge its validity. Ask yourself questions like, "Is this thought based on facts or assumptions?" and "What evidence do I have to support or refute this thought?" This process is known as cognitive restructuring and is a core aspect of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). After challenging the negative thought, replace it with a more realistic and positive one. For instance, change "I’ll never be good at this" to "I can improve with practice and learning."

3. Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool in dealing with negative thoughts. It teaches you to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment and lets them pass without getting entangled in them. Regular practice can help you gain control over your thought processes and keep you rooted in the present moment, reducing the incidence of ruminative thoughts about the past or worries about the future.

4. Setting the Tone with Affirmations

Positive affirmations can reinforce self-belief and counteract the harm caused by negative thoughts. These are positive, empowering statements that, when repeated regularly, can help to change the narrative you have about yourself and your abilities. For example, an affirmation like "I am capable and strong, and I tackle challenges with courage," can be a powerful antidote to negative self-talk.

5. Gratitude Journaling

One way to shift focus from negative to positive is by maintaining a gratitude journal. Daily jotting down things you are grateful for can significantly boost your mood and perspective. This practice encourages you to notice and appreciate the smaller joys and victories, often overshadowed by pervasive negative thoughts.

6. Physical Activity

Exercise is not only good for the body but also for the mind. Physical activity releases endorphins, chemicals in your brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. Regular exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve self-image, making it easier to combat negative thoughts.

7. Connect with Others

Isolation can deepen negative thought patterns, while sharing your feelings with others can provide a new perspective. Whether it’s talking with friends, family, or a professional therapist, being connected helps you feel supported and less alone in your struggles. Sometimes, merely verbalizing your thoughts can help diminish their power.

8. Practice Self-Compassion

Finally, be gentle with yourself. Everyone experiences negative thoughts at one time or another. Practice self-compassion by treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and support you’d offer a good friend. When you miss the mark, remind yourself that perfection is not the goal—growth is.

Conclusion

Transforming negative thought patterns into positive ones requires consistent practice and patience. By becoming more mindful of your thought patterns, actively challenging them, staying physically and socially active, and practicing gratitude and affirmations, you can cultivate a healthier, more optimistic mindset. Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection. With each small step, you're paving the way to a more empowered and positive self.

Being a powerful person

Monday, June 24, 2024 @ 2:57 PM

So what is it that makes a person powerful? Affluence? Intelligence? Chiseled physique? We sure would love to possess any or all of the above! However, on the granular level it all boils down to the power of choice. We can choose a path paved in education, seeking out arenas to be influential over others or pounding it out at the gym. We possess free will to pursue our goals and dreams.

Once an individual realizes that the power to choose is in their midst, it could change their life for good as they begin see things in this new light. They recognize the ownership aspect of all they do and say now with the ball in their court. There is nothing mystic about this concept nor is it unattainable for even the most seemingly powerless individual. It is just a skill set.  Equate this with the idea that if I actually go to the gym and actually work out, I will get stronger. Keep in mind that repetition and mindfulness are key ingredients in the mix.

A powerful person says, “I choose to be responsible for myself and  I will be responsible in relationship with others, requiring others to respect me as I respect them. I foster self control through this connection. You will never be disappointed with my choices because I have already set the standard with love, respect and responsibility. You can count on my yes being yes and my no being no. There is no fear, second guessing or surprises  in relating with me. I realize that not everyone is going to like me (particularly powerless people) and that’s ok.”

Here are the traits seen in a powerful person:

Always at peace

Driven by truth

Take full responsibility for the choices they make

Find happiness based on who they are, what they desire and what they are committed to

Deliberately set standards for how they will be treated 

Deliberately set standards for how they treat others

They are who they say they are

They do what they say they will do

Love is never dependent on being loved in return

They love no matter what

Here are the traits in a powerless person:

Never content

Driven by anxiety

Need others to make them happy 

Since it seems not safe to be themselves they need to latch on to others to cope and survive

It’s their mission to control using all sorts of tactics that are toxic to themselves and others: nagging, withdrawal, ridicule, anger, crying, undue pressure attempting to get their way.

Can you recognize the traits of a powerful person yourself or your loved one? Powerless? If you do just know that meeting with a clinical counselor or for marriage counseling can help you overcome powerlessness and begin to live a more satisfying life in all your relationships. The benefits of learning to be powerful, as you can see, are great. You can go from being powerless to powerful, controlling to self-control, fear to love, and distance to connection. It’s your call…

Dr. Anita J. Arrunategui/ Images: Canva Pro/ Danny Silk “Keep Your Love On

 The content published is for informational purposes. The content included in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Hurt: Let us pull off the band-aid

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 @ 9:57 PM

Anchored 4 Hope

Blog. One: Hurt: Let's Pull off the band-aid.

This is my first blog, where I'd like to share about Jehovah Rapha: "The Lord that heals thee." - Exodus 15:26 (NIV). I have been called into Christian Counseling and have been clinically trained with a unique skill set to understand and help people overcome depression, anxiety, or grief while incorporating the Christian belief system. In everything that I do, I aim to point people towards God as the great counselor and physician.

We live in a broken world full of pain and hurt. The fall of Adam and Eve when deceived led to hurt. As a child, I would get hurt from falling off my bike and dread telling my dad. He used warm soap and water to clean the wound, then poured alcohol on it before applying a Band-Aid.

I would later pull the Band-Aid off slowly, but my dad would always rip it off fast, claiming it would hurt less. I always thought it would hurt more. If a scab has formed, the wound is in the process of healing, and the Band-Aid could be removed. Do you have a scab over your wound or hurt? I can help.

I help individuals grappling with overwhelming stress, loneliness, and hopelessness. Through our work together, my clients experience peace and wholeness and feel safe and secure in growing through Christ. I provide Christian psychotherapy, and new clients find hope in our sessions. I build relationships with my clients to guide them towards Christ as a healer and source of hope.
Do you hurt?
Let us pull the Band-Aid off slowly.
Let’s work together to heal your wound.
It used to be a jingle, "I am stuck on Band-Aid because Band-Aid stuck on me."
Are you stuck? Call me.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Daytime Routines for a Peaceful Night's Sleep

Thursday, June 13, 2024 @ 6:11 PM

Sleep is a gift from God, meant to rejuvenate our bodies and minds for the tasks He sets before us. However, many Christians struggle with sleep issues that can impact their daily life and spiritual wellness. By integrating faith-focused activities into our daytime routines, we can create an environment that is conducive to peaceful nights of rest. Here are some habits that can improve your sleep quality.

Seek God

Just as natural sunlight is essential for regulating our sleep-wake cycles, the light of Christ is crucial for our spiritual well-being. Begin your day with exposure to God's Word, allowing it to fill and guide you. Spend time in prayer each morning, asking for peace and rest, and thanking Him for the new day. A heart attuned to gratitude can ease anxiety and promote better sleep.

Engage in Physical Worship

Scripture encourages physical expression of our worship, and engaging in activities such as walking while praying can not only honor God but also improve our sleep. Exercise is proven to help tire the body and reduce stress, and when combined with worship, it can be a powerful tool in preparing us for rest. Be mindful of the time of day, as vigorous activity too close to bedtime may become a hindrance.

Nourish the Body as a Temple

Our bodies are described as temples of the Holy Spirit, and what we put into them can affect every aspect of our health, including our sleep. Strive to consume foods that honor your body—fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help improve sleep quality. Be cautious with caffeine and heavy meals, particularly later in the day, to avoid disrupting your sleep pattern.

Cultivate a Spirit of Stillness

In the book of Psalms, we are reminded to "be still and know" that He is God. Taking time throughout the day to still our minds and hearts can foster a sense of peace that extends into the night. Develop a practice of daily quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle, to meditate on God's promises and rejuvenate your spirit.

Gain Strength through Fellowship

Hebrews encourages us to not forsake assembling. Engaging in Christian fellowship, whether through church functions, Bible study groups, or prayer meetings, can uplift the spirit and dispel the loneliness that often hinders good sleep. Shared testimonies of God's faithfulness can also strengthen our faith and ease our nightly rest.

Embody Consistency and Ritual

A consistent and intentional approach to our day reflects the orderliness of God's creation. As such, maintaining a regular wake-sleep schedule aligns with the rhythm He established for us. Incorporate rituals that prepare your heart for the end of the day, such as evening prayers or reading through a devotional, to signal to your mind and body that it is time to rest.

Confront Stress through Trust in God

Numerous Scripture verses remind us to cast our cares upon the Lord. Instead of allowing stress to consume your day and disrupt your sleep, actively place your worries in God's hands through prayer and supplication. Moreover, seek wisdom through the counsel of pastors, church elders, or fellow believers to alleviate the burdens weighing on your sleep.

Reflect and Give Thanks

As you navigate finding the best routine for a restful night's sleep, take time to reflect on the day's activities and their impact on your rest. Maintain a journal to track your sleep, noting how different experiences affected you. Offer up thanks for the progress you make and seek guidance on areas of improvement.

Incorporating these Christ-centered activities into your daily life not only enhances sleep quality but also draws you closer to God. Sleep becomes more than just a biological necessity; it turns into an extension of your daily worship and trust in the Lord. These habits are not just about physical rest—they are about nurturing your relationship with God and finding peace in His presence, knowing that "He gives to His beloved sleep" (Psalm 127:2).

Let your daytime routine be a reflection of your faith, and you'll find that your nights are filled with the restful sleep that God intends for all of us. Remember, in God’s sovereign care, each night is an opportunity to lay down not just your head, but your worries and fears, trusting in Him to renew you for the day to come.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Chronic Pelvic Pain Support Group

Monday, June 10, 2024 @ 4:59 PM

Shakira is currently recruiting for 6 to 8 professional women of color (ages 28 to 39) who are interested in participating in a 12-week virtual chronic pain group for professional women struggling with chronic pelvic pain. This group will have a membership option that members can opt into for a small monthly fee after completion. In the group, they can continue to support each other, create a community, meet up, and share resources. Members must be in the New York area to join. Please email Shakira for a screening call.

Benefits and aims of the group
Co-regulate with like minded women who get it
Facilitated by someone with lived experience
Reframe unhelpful thoughts and learn to accept pain
Increase pain management coping skills and pain tolerance
Complete a personal project to help yourself engage with what’s most important
Have access to a community membership after completion

Cost $100 per session
Meeting weekly on zoom starting
August 21st, 2024
7pm to 8:30pm EST

Contact info@cheerfulheartmhcpllc.com for more information

Please read my blog post to learn more about the benefits of support groups for chronic pelvic pain.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

10 Reasons We Resist Using Boundaries

Wednesday, May 29, 2024 @ 11:16 PM

We get it—setting boundaries sounds great in theory, but when it comes to actually implementing them, it's a whole different ball game.

Whether it's saying no to another work project or setting limits with family, here are ten reasons why we all seem to resist using boundaries.

By understanding these reasons, we can start to tackle them and lead healthier, more sustainable lives.


1. We Don’t Want to Disappoint Others
We’ve all been there. We say yes to something just to avoid the disappointed look on someone’s face. But let’s be real—constantly saying yes to avoid disappointing others can lead us straight to burnout city.
Example: Jamie* has a demanding job and a busy family life. When his boss asks him to take on another project, Jamie wants to say no but worries about letting his team down. He ends up saying yes, even though he’s already stretched thin.

2. Fear of Conflict
Nobody likes confrontation. The idea of a potentially awkward or hostile conversation is enough to make us break out in a sweat. But without boundaries, those little annoyances can snowball into major conflicts down the road.

Example: jasmine* finds it hard to tell her neighbor to stop dropping by unannounced. She dreads the potential awkwardness of the conversation, so she continues to tolerate the interruptions, even though it disrupts her family’s evening routine.

3. Guilt Trips Galore
Guilt can be a powerful motivator. We feel guilty for putting our needs first or for thinking our needs matter at all. But guess what? They do matter. We need to remember that taking care of ourselves isn’t selfish; it’s necessary.

Example: Lisa* feels guilty for wanting a weekend to herself. Her friends invite her out for a weekend getaway, but she really needs some alone time to recharge. She goes anyway, driven by guilt, and returns even more exhausted.

4. We Like Being Needed
Admit it—we enjoy being the go-to person. It makes us feel important and valued. But constantly being on call for everyone else’s needs can leave us with no time or energy for our own.

Example: Tom* loves helping his friends move, fix their cars, and tackle DIY projects. He enjoys being the reliable friend, but he realizes he has no time left for his hobbies or relaxation.

5. We’re Afraid of Being Seen as Difficult
There’s a fear that if we set boundaries, we’ll be labeled as difficult or uncooperative. However, consistently ignoring our own limits can lead to even bigger problems, like burnout or resentment.
Example: Emily* hesitates to tell her colleagues that she can’t stay late to help with a project. She doesn’t want to be seen as uncooperative, so she sacrifices her evening plans repeatedly.

6. We Confuse Boundaries with Barriers
Sometimes we think setting a boundary means building a wall. But boundaries aren’t about shutting people out; they’re about defining where we end and others begin. It’s about creating space for both ourselves and our relationships to thrive.

Example: Alex* worries that telling his family he needs alone time will hurt their feelings. He fears they’ll think he’s distancing himself, even though he just needs a little personal space to recharge.

7. Lack of Practice
Let’s face it—most of us didn’t grow up with a manual on how to set healthy boundaries. It’s a skill we have to learn and practice, and it can feel awkward or uncomfortable at first. But with time and practice, it gets easier.

Example: Karen* never learned how to say no politely. She’s used to overcommitting and struggles to set boundaries with her time. She starts practicing by declining small requests, like helping a colleague with non-urgent tasks.

8. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Saying no can sometimes feel like we’re missing out on something fun or important. But constantly saying yes to everything can spread us too thin and leave us feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

Example: Dave* always agrees to social outings with his friends, even when he’s exhausted from work. He fears missing out on fun experiences, but the lack of rest starts affecting his performance at work.

9. We Underestimate Our Own Needs
We often put others' needs before our own, underestimating how important it is to prioritize our own well-being. But we can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking care of ourselves allows us to better support those around us.

Example: Rachel* is constantly attending to her children’s needs, her partner’s needs, and her work responsibilities. She rarely takes time for herself and starts feeling worn out and irritable.

10. We Think It’s All or Nothing
Setting boundaries doesn’t mean we have to go from being a pushover to a strict enforcer overnight. It’s about finding a balance and setting limits that feel right for us. Small, incremental changes can make a big difference.

Example: Mark* thinks that setting boundaries means he has to be rigid and unyielding. He starts by setting small, flexible boundaries, like dedicating one evening a week to his hobbies, and gradually builds from there.

Overcoming Boundary Resistance

Recognizing why we resist setting boundaries is the first step towards making meaningful changes. By addressing these reasons, we can start to implement boundaries that allow us to lead healthier, more balanced lives.

Everyone has struggles in life, and counseling is a powerful tool to realize health and wholeness in their life. It’s never too late to start, and a problem is never too small to not benefit from counseling.
Practical Tips to Start Implementing Boundaries

Start Small: Begin by setting small boundaries that feel manageable. This could be as simple as saying no to an extra work task or carving out 10 minutes of alone time each day.

Communicate Clearly: Be honest and direct about your needs. Use “I” statements to express your feelings without blaming or accusing others.
Be Consistent: Consistency is key. Stick to your boundaries even when it’s challenging. Over time, others will learn to respect your limits.
Seek Support: If setting boundaries feels overwhelming, consider seeking support from a counselor. A professional can provide guidance and help you navigate tricky situations.

Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself. Setting boundaries is a skill that takes time to develop.
Celebrate your progress and forgive yourself for any missteps.

By understanding and addressing these common reasons for resisting boundaries, we can create healthier, more sustainable lifestyles. It's time to prioritize our well-being and take the first step towards a more balanced life.

If you’re struggling to set boundaries or need support, Masters Counseling in Calgary is here to help. Our compassionate counselors can work with you to develop strategies for implementing healthy boundaries in your life. Contact us today to start your journey towards health and wholeness.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Overthinking? Here’s How to Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body

Monday, February 5, 2024 @ 10:56 AM

For some, the feeling of an overcrowded brain will be all too familiar. It usually happens when you’re trapped in a pattern of overthinking. Read more at https://encompasscounselingmichigan.com/overthinking-heres-how-to-get-out-of-your-head-and-into-your-body/

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Are there Practical Benefits to Premarital Therapy?

Sunday, February 4, 2024 @ 12:25 PM

There continues to be considerable debate as to whether there are practical benefits to premarital/remarital counseling. The question further arises as to if premarital/remarital counseling is effective. According to Wright (1992), the institution of marriage is the closest bond that can develop between two people. That said, as many couples progress towards marriage perceptions and expectations as to what constitutes marriage varies considerably. In this regard, Wright (1992) contends that, “Unrealistic expectations and fantasies create a gulf between the partners and cause disappointments” (p. 11). Fawcett, Hawkins, Blanchard and Carroll (2010) contend that promoting healthy marriages and relationships now engages greater attention from principal stakeholders and requires considerable commitment and resources. A 2006 household survey conducted reported that “premarital education is significantly correlated to higher levels of marital quality, lower levels of marital conflict, and lower divorce rates” (Stanley, Amato, Johnson, & Markham, 2006, p. 232). The findings derived from this 2006 study lend support to the theory that premarital counseling may be effective (Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 19:20-21).

There are numerous approaches employed in premarital counseling. One such interesting paradigm is solution-focused premarital counseling. According to Murray and Murray (2004), “Solution-focused therapy is a brief therapy approach that emphasizes clients’ strengths and attempts to produce desirable solutions to clients’ presenting problems” (p. 350). This specific approach takes on relevance because of the rapidity with which contemporary culture continues to undergo change. Solution-focused premarital counseling may also considered to be an effective option by some scholars as a result of: (a) its constructivist and postmodern paradigm, (b) its emphasis on clients’ perception of truth and (c) clients’ interpretations of their personal life experiences, interpersonal relationships coupled with their personal goals and aspirations ( Murray & Murray, 2004). At the corpus of the effectiveness of solution-focused premarital counseling is: (a) clients’ recognition that change is needed and (b) clients’ commitment to work with their therapist to implement mutually agreeable and sustainable change. “The solution-oriented theoretical framework provides a foundation for expanding the delivery of premarital counseling programs to engaged couples” (p. 356).

Is premarital counseling an effective tool for couples who are about to get married for the first time? Can it be equally effective for others reconsidering marriage after having experienced a failed marriage or failed marriages? In another meta-analytic study, consisting of 14 studies spanning four decades, Lucier-Greer and Adler-Baeder (2012) concluded that couple and relationship education “(CRE) programs that target participants in stepfamilies, both married and nonmarried, are modestly effective in influencing overall participant functioning as well as specific target outcomes, including family functioning and parenting, and appear worthy of support” (p. 765). In other words, there is some level of evidenced-based support to suggests that remarital counseling may also be well supported with the appropriate and meticulously conceptualized educational and/or enrichment programs.

The dynamic of stepfamilies introduced above connotes that some couples may be considered at higher risks for marital problems in the future than others. If this postulation is in fact true, the question arises as to what may be some of the other contributory factors that put some couples at higher marital risks. In an Australian study conducted by Halford, O’Donnell, Lizzio, and Wilson, (2006), 374 newly married couples were tested for the hypothesis that: “religious service attendance, income, age, education, female parental divorce, male parental aggression, cohabitation before marriage, forming a stepfamily, relationship aggression, or low relationship satisfaction predicts attendance at marriage education” (p. 161). Attendance to premarital education programs was reliably associated with attendance to religious services and not cohabiting before marriage, “but not reliably associated with the risk factors” (p. 161). There was also a “lack of reliable association of education attendance with relationship aggression and/or satisfaction or negative family-of origin experiences” (p. 162). In addition, this study reported that, “income, education, age, prior marriage, and forming a step-family were not reliably related to attendance” (p. 162). The study also revealed that many non-religious couples were not aware that premarital education was a resource available to them and that strategic marketing should be employed to heighten mainstream population awareness.

There are obvious complexities, attending variables and nuances associated with both premarital and remarital counseling. As such, I posit that there is a need for ongoing research to explore a plethora of relevant variables. Some of the evaluating factors that may affect couple and relationship study outcomes include: (a) the context of the study’s setting, (b) ethnicity, (c) economic status, (d) family functionality, and (e) parenting styles just to mention a few. Given the liberal marital approaches that continue to evolve in today’s postmodern culture, additional considerations should also be examined such as: (a) how many marriages has each individual been involved in prior to embarking on an educational program, (b) are the individuals cohabiting or are they living apart, (c) if married, at what stage of the marriage are the couple prepared to engage in a CRE program (Lucier-Greer & Adler-Baeder, 2012). In summary, there is empirical data which suggest that couple and relationship programs in various contexts have met with favorable outcomes, yet there remains a need for research that incorporates additional contextual diversity. Lucier-Greer and Adler-Baeder (2012) succinctly surmise this perspective noting that, “quality research designs framed with an ecocultural lens using control groups and long-term follow-up procedures are needed” (p. 766).

References

Fawcett, E. B., Hawkins, A. J., Blanchard, V. L., & Carroll, J. S. (2010). Do premarital education programs work? A meta-analytic study. Family Relations, 59(3), 232-239. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2010.00598.x
Halford, W. K., O’Donnell, C., Lizzio, A., & Wilson, K. L. (2006). Do couples at high risk of relationship problems attend premarriage education? Journal of Family Psychology, 20(1), 160-163. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.20.1.160
Lucier-Greer, M. & Adler-Baeder, F. (2012). Does couple and relationship education work for individuals in stepfamilies? A meta-analytic study. Family Relations, 61(5), 756-769. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3279.2012.00728.x
Murray, C. E. & Murray, T. L. (2004). Solution-focused premarital counseling: Helping couples build a vision for their marriage. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 30(3), 349-358. Retrieved from Psy Articles
Stanley, S. M., Amato, P. R., Johnson, C. A. & Markham, H. J. (2006). Premarital education, marital quality, and marital stability: Findings from a large, random household survey. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 117-126. Retrieved from https://doi.org/ 10.1037/0893-3200.20.1.117
Wright, H. N. (1992). The premarital counseling handbook. Chicago: Moody Publishers.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Discerning Between Spiritual Warfare and Mental Health

Thursday, February 1, 2024 @ 8:41 AM

I have heard a variety of approaches to how to resolve issues for life’s problems based on whether they are mental health problems or if they are considered spiritual problems.

Note: I am going to assume that most readers have an understanding of what the Bible says regarding spiritual warfare. If you are unfamiliar a list of Bible passages can be found at the end of the post.

Some people say that mental health problems and spiritual problems are distinctly separate issues. Mental health problems require therapy and/or medication, while spiritual problems require prayer and spiritual discipline.

Others say that there is no such thing as mental health problems. They believe that mental health problems are problems that arise from unrepentant sin and have been mislabeled as mental health.

I don’t think that viewing issues as exclusively mental health or exclusively spiritual represent the entirety of what we see happening in the world. I think there is an overlap between spiritual warfare and mental health problems, and that it is difficult, if not impossible to make clear distinctions between the two. For example, if we were to define the source of the problem based on which “treatment” provided the best outcome; there are people who testify that they were freed from alcoholism through prayer alone, there are those who have overcome alcohol addiction using a mental health approach and there are those who recovered through prayer, spiritual and mental health support (a combination).

Since mental health and spiritual support are both able to assist people in healing, we should learn when it is best to use each approach, but when possible, an interdisciplinary approach can be very useful. First, mental health approaches are often very compatible with a Biblical approach to the same issue. For example, CBT techniques that involve replacing distorted thoughts with more reasonable thoughts are compatible with Bible verses that talk about renewing our mind with the truth of scripture. If we use scripture to help us challenge false beliefs then we are able to connect the spiritual with mental health.

Mental Health Approaches Through a Spiritual Lens

Any mental health approach that can be used in a way that is consistent with scripture should be used when it is appropriate to do so. Mental health approaches, specifically the ones that help us challenge and change sinful thoughts and behaviors can be useful no matter what the person is dealing with, these techniques are not exclusive to mental health problems.

For example, someone could use the three column technique from CBT to help them identify false beliefs and replace them with more Biblical ones. In this technique the person creates three columns. The first column is for situations, the second for feelings and the third for thoughts. This technique can be very useful for distinguishing between thoughts and feelings. This allows people to see how their thoughts impact their emotions and can create more meaningful change when false beliefs are identified and replaced.

Taking medication to help with a mental health problem can be a useful tool to assist your brain in forming more positive approaches to your problem. For someone who takes anti-anxiety medication, they can also use scripture to help renew their mind and reduce their anxiety. This combination can create better results since the focus on scripture reinforces the changes in the brain made by medication and the medication reinforces the relief provided through encouraging scripture.

A Multidisciplinary Approach

The seminary that I attend recommends that if someone is dealing with a spiritual affliction that they should see: (1) a Christian counselor to help them change sinful behaviors and thoughts, (2) a spiritual director to help them with their relationship with God, and (3) seek deliverance prayer.

Using these three approaches benefits the Christian by strengthening their faith and to guard against a return of spiritual attacks that is mentioned in Luke 11:14-28.

Could this be spiritual?

I have had conversations with Christians who are skeptical of spiritual warfare. Some say that they think Biblical passages reflect a poor understanding of mental health and they didn’t know how to explain it. I find this unsatisfying, because even if you assume that Jesus was only healing people, when the Bible speaks of demons causing people to scream when they leave, this seems to suggest something else. If this was a straight forward healing, why did it involve screaming?

I’ve also spoken to people who believe that spiritual warfare occurs only in places like Africa, but not in North America or places that are primarily Christian. I wonder if this is simply a statement made from a lack of experience. I and others I know have seen manifestations of demonic activity in Canada and the US. I have been witness to people being thrown to the ground, shaking and involuntary screaming that was relieved through prayer.

Any problem that has become repetitive and difficult to break could have a spiritual basis. Things such as anxiety and grief can be the result of a spiritual attack. I was once telling a friend a story of an unpleasant experience I had and he began to weep. I was shocked because he was in tears over something that I myself was not upset about. I prayed that he would be filled with a spirit of joy and he stopped crying and became calm. If you see some odd or out of place behavior it doesn’t hurt to stop and pray, “Lord, what shall I do? How should I pray?”

What to do if a problem could have a spiritual basis?

My recommendation is very simple. Pray the positive: healing, peace, joy, patience, freedom, life, etc. Whether or not a problem is specifically spiritual or not it can still be improved by prayer that focuses on the positive.

From people I have spoken to who lead spiritual deliverance ministries, there are two ways demonic spirits can be removed from a person; one is through specific prayer for them to be removed, the other is through being filled with God’s spirit so that the demonic spirit has no choice but to leave. Trying to cast out a spirit will only work if there is a demonic spirit and even the disciples had difficulty casting out some spirits. When we pray for the positive then God is able to act in ways we cannot see or understand.

Acts 19:13-16 describes the experience of men who came under spiritual attack when they were praying against demonic spirits. Spiritual warfare appears to be quite complex and certain approaches carry less risk than others.

Suicide: Demonic spirit or Mental Health problem?

From my observation, I think there is one exception to the idea that a mental health problem could be a spiritual or mental health problem. I think when it comes to suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and actions it is 100% mental health AND 100% spiritual. Any time I have been in the presence of a person who recently or subsequently made a suicide attempt I discerned the presence of a demonic spirit. If someone you know is suicidal they should seek mental health AND spiritual support as quickly as possible.

Scriptures that I would recommend for people experiencing suicidal thoughts are the ones about God’s love, forgiveness, mercy and blessing towards us. Other helpful topics are verses about purpose, healing, and transformation.

For additional support you can book a consult here. https://www.incrementalhealthtips.com/

Liz Millican is a Registered Psychotherapist in Ontario, Canada. She has a master of divinity in Clinical Counseling from Tyndale University, a private Christian University.

Scripture References

Exodus 20:4-6; 34:6-7 Generational punishment for sin and blessing for obedience.

Matthew 8:16-34 Jesus heals people of illnesses, casts our demons, calms the storm and casts demons into animals.

Matthew 9:27-34 Jesus heals the blind and mute.

Matthew 17:14-21 Casting out demons requires faith and some disciples were unable to do it.

Mark 1:21-34 Spirits manifest physically in people.

Contrast: Mark 1:40-45 Jesus heals a man of leprosy without mention of spirits, suggesting some sickness is not spiritually caused, but still able to be healed.

Mark 6:13 [NIV] They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. (Healing of sick seem somewhat separated from those with demons.)

Mark 16:9 Mary Magdalene had been freed from seven demons.

Luke 4:31-37 Man thrown on the ground by a spirit.

Luke 8:26-39 Many spirits can make someone strong and “out of their mind.”

Luke 9:37-43 Demon causes screaming, foaming and throws the person to the ground.

Luke 11:14-28 Pray and obey God to avoid demonic attacks from returning.

Acts 16:16-18 Paul waited several days before casting a spirit out of a fortune teller who was annoying them.

Acts 19:13-16 Stronger demonic spirits can attack someone who tries to cast them out.

Ephesian 6:10-18 Put on the armor of God and be prepared for spiritual warfare.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Trauma and NET, TFT, and EMDR: Is Mind-Body Work Helpful?

Friday, January 26, 2024 @ 12:03 PM

Trauma and NET, TFT, and EMDR: Is mind-body work helpful?

Trauma happens to everyone. It’s more than stress because the effects are lingering and tend to show up when you are stressed. You experienced something as being life-threatening, deeply distressing, or disturbing. Sometimes it is brought on by others' stories. Trauma effects could be as serious as PTSD or as mild as over-reacting to people or circumstances.

What is EMDR?

A structured therapy that encourages the patient to briefly focus on the trauma memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements), which is associated with a reduction in the vividness and emotion associated with the trauma memories. For more information look up EMDR on the American Psychological Association or Veteran's Administration website.

What is NET?

Neuro Emotional Technique uses the meridian system for healthcare, i.e. muscle testing (used by chiropractors) and acupuncture. For more information look up NET on the NIH National Library of Medicine website.

What is TFT?

The client is tapping with their fingers at meridian points on the upper body and hands. Thought Field Therapy, unlike the one-size-fits-all EFT, is specific to emotions. For more information look up Thought Field Therapy on the NIH National Library of Medicine website.

What kind of mind-body work helps?

When your therapist tells you of a technique to use at home such as tapping, practice it when you’re feeling anxiety triggered by a past trauma. These things help and the evidence is not all anecdotal. Evidence-based research has been done on EMDR. Do your research by looking at peer-reviewed journals or reliable sources.

Do more of what works for you. For some people it is acupuncture, for others it’s yoga. It could be breathing techniques, tapping, or body scans. There are meditation and relaxation exercises available on YouTube or phone apps such as Insight Timer.

Can mind-body work be used by Christians?

Whether you can benefit from this therapy depends on what you and your therapist believe about who God is and what a relationship with God is like.

Some people are using a Christian mind-body protocol called Splankna for trauma therapy. This therapy uses EFT, NET, and TFT tools. There have been more than 3000 people trained in Splankna in the US, Mexico, Canada, Australia, China, Uganda, and Germany in the last 25 years. Practitioners can be found in private practices, churches, or faith-based organizations.

Don’t rush into mind-body work if you’re feeling a check in your spirit. Just talk to God about it and clear it with Him. Doubts mean you may need more information.

Call 720-577-5985 for a free 15-minute consultation.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Elijah House Training

Tuesday, January 23, 2024 @ 4:21 PM

Experience True Heart Healing AND Learn to Help Others Do the Same.We know how it feels to endlessly search for what leads to true transformation, only to come up empty. Whether you are a pastor, ministry leader, or simply someone who wants to find freedom and pay it forward, there is HOPE!

This Elijah House training has helped hundreds of thousands around the world experience freedom. Whether it be depression, anxiety, broken marriages, or whatever it is that needs healing, we've seen God break through time and time again.

This is a 12 virtual week class with small group participation at the end of each lesson

Click below to learn more about how you can register.

How To Silence Your Inner Critic

Tuesday, January 23, 2024 @ 3:14 PM

Resouling Therapy

Whether we are feeling anxious, depressed, a perfectionist, or not, we all have an inner critic residing within us. For some, our inner critic talks all the time and so loud that other thoughts can’t be heard or considered.

Here’s three strategies on how to silence your inner critic.

1) REMOVE THE WORD "SHOULD" YOUR INNTER CRITIC TELLS YOU
A common way our inner critic talks to us is by using the word “should”: “I should be able to handle this.” “I should be a better husband.” “I should have written a better email.” “I should be more outgoing.” “I should call my mother, spend more time with my kids, and know what my spouse needs from me (…without telling me)”

Sounds crazy, right? When we hear it from a different source we recognize it as absurd. It’s easier to be a source of encouragement for others to silence their inner critic. But we struggle to silence our own.

These “shoulds” try to convince us we have not met some arbitrary standard, telling us “You’ve missed the mark!” “You’ve failed!” “You’re not wanted here!” A really powerful inner critic goes beyond criticizing our behaviors to sending us the message: “You are not acceptable.” “You’re not good enough.” “You are a failure.” These messages criticize our being.

Take “should” out and replace it with “want to.”

“I want to be able to handle this.” “I want to be a better husband.” “I want to send professional emails and succeed.” “I want to be more outgoing.” “I want to be there for my family.”

Now stop for 10 seconds and allow yourself to feel the difference.

Did you notice it? It feels relieving, doesn’t it? Even hopeful in a way.

The “should“ statements have a finality to them with a judgment of “FAILED!” “REJECT!” The “want to” statements awake our own desires that is within us to motivate, give us hope, and help us make a plan.

Reminding ourselves of our “want to” allows us to see the good within! The “I should be a better husband” statement wouldn’t be so deadly if we didn’t desire that. It stings because I want to be a better husband.

It’s our inner desires that gives the “should” statements their deadly power.

After rewording a “should” statement to: “I want to write effective emails,” imagine how much easier it is to go to your boss and tell her you’d like to learn and grow. You are now freer to ask for her assistance rather than sit in her office feeling the weight of “I failed, I should have written my email like she would.”

2) REMOVE THE WORDS "SHOULD NOT" YOUR INNER CRITIC TELLS YOU
Geez… our inner critic isn’t very creative! It just uses the same word, but now in its opposite form.

When you hear in your head: “You shouldn’t be so sensitive.” “You shouldn’t have said that to your roommate.” “You should not feel angry.’ “You should not still be hurt by what happened so long ago,” our inner critic is condemning ourself as weak and not good-enough, not measuring up.

Take the “should not” out and replace it with “wish”.

Hear the difference with these statements: “I wish I wasn’t so sensitive.” “I wish I didn’t say that to my roommate.” “I wish I didn’t feel angry.” You get the picture.

Stop again and allow yourself to feel the difference of the “wish” vs “should not” statements.

Utilizing “wish” allows us to notice where we are without the judgment that “should not” gives, preventing us from noticing what’s going on within.

The revised “wish” statements provide space to hear (what we may think is) the ugly truth of ourself and move forward to problem solve.

Let’s explore the statement: “I wish I wasn’t so sensitive.”

With this new perspective I’m in a better position to consider other ways of seeing the situation. Perhaps being as sensitive as I am in the moment, isn’t the only way to feel about it. I’m able to acknowledge my feelings (I’m feeling sensitive.) and my uncertainty that it’s the only response to have (I’m not sure I have good reason to be as sensitive as I am.).

I can remind myself of the positives that are true, or check-in with others. I might take into consideration other ways to interpret the situation. I may want to wait to see how I feel about it tomorrow instead of choosing to act now.

3) ADD A REINFORCEMENT AGAINST THE "SHOULD NOT" BELIEFS
In our new “wish” statements we can add the phrase: “yet I am.”

The inner criticism can evolve from: “I shouldn’t be so angry!” to “I wish I wasn’t so angry, yet I am.”

This reinforces the ability to tell ourself: “This is what I’m feeling at this time. It may not be pretty. It’s not ideal, It’s not where I want to stay, but I am here. I might need some time to be able to feel differently later. ”

Now it easier to make amends in our relationships with others. We are acknowledging this isn’t my ideal self, it’s not how I prefer to have handle it, I want others to know that. We could tell our friend, “Right now I’m too mad to listen to you, I wish I could talk to you about it right now, but I’ll need some time.”

One of my first bosses shared with me what he often tells himself: “I will not should on myself today.” This was his reminder to fight against his inner critic that caused him to feel anxious somedays, and it helped him deal with depression other days. It also help him to not beat himself up the days he was frantically trying to prove he could be perfect.

Don’t should on yourself today. Or anytime. I encourage you to implement these new strategies of using “want to,” “wish,” and “yet I am” to silence your inner critic and then enjoy the results! You’ll find it so much easier to move forward in relationships and in making plans to improve your situation.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Descubre el Bienestar Integral: Tarjetas de Terapia del Dr. Remy Nelson para Afrontar y Aliviar el Dolor Emocional, Mental y Espiritual

Sunday, December 3, 2023 @ 8:36 AM

Las Tarjetas de Terapia del Dr. Remy Nelson son herramientas poderosas diseñadas para ofrecer apoyo emocional y guía en el proceso de enfrentar y aliviar el dolor. Las tarjetas están diseñadas para ayudar a manejar el dolor emocional, psicológico y espiritual. Aquí hay algunas maneras en que las Tarjetas de Terapia pueden ser de ayuda en el proceso de lidiar con el dolor:

Afrontamiento Emocional:
Las tarjetas contienen mensajes y afirmaciones que pueden brindar consuelo y apoyo emocional. Pueden ayudar a cambiar la perspectiva sobre el dolor, fomentar la resiliencia y proporcionar recordatorios positivos para enfrentar los desafíos con una mentalidad más fuerte.

Mindfulness y Relajación:
Las Tarjetas de Terapia pueden ser utilizadas en prácticas de mindfulness y meditación. Al enfocarse en las afirmaciones y mensajes positivos de las tarjetas durante la meditación, se puede lograr un estado de relajación que contribuya a reducir la percepción del dolor.

Reflexión y Autoexploración:
Las tarjetas invitan a la reflexión y autoexploración, permitiendo a quienes las utilizan explorar sus pensamientos y sentimientos con respecto al dolor. Este proceso puede ayudar a comprender mejor la naturaleza del dolor y a encontrar maneras más saludables de abordarlo.

Empoderamiento Personal:
Al utilizar las Tarjetas de Terapia, las personas pueden sentirse empoderadas al tener herramientas que les permitan enfrentar el dolor de manera proactiva. Las afirmaciones positivas pueden fortalecer la mentalidad y cultivar una sensación de control sobre la experiencia del dolor.

Apoyo en Sesiones Terapéuticas:
Los profesionales de la salud mental, como terapeutas y consejeros, pueden incorporar las Tarjetas de Terapia en sus sesiones para proporcionar apoyo adicional a aquellos que enfrentan el dolor. Las tarjetas pueden servir como punto de partida para discusiones terapéuticas y estrategias de afrontamiento.

Conexión Espiritual:
Para aquellos que buscan apoyo espiritual, las Tarjetas de Terapia también abordan la dimensión espiritual del dolor. Pueden ayudar a encontrar consuelo a través de afirmaciones que resuenen con las creencias espirituales individuales y fomentar una conexión más profunda con la espiritualidad.

En resumen, las Tarjetas de Terapia del Dr. Remy Nelson pueden ser aliadas valiosas en el proceso de gestionar y aliviar el dolor al abordar no solo sus aspectos físicos, sino también los emocionales, mentales y espirituales. Ofrecen un enfoque integral que busca fortalecer la resiliencia y fomentar el bienestar en medio de los desafíos del dolor.

Tarjetas de Terapia
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09KQ77JRG?ref=myi_title_dp

Therapy Cards: Nurturing Well-being Through Dr. Remy Nelson's Therapeutic Wisdom

Sunday, December 3, 2023 @ 8:23 AM

Introduction:
Welcome to the transformative world of Dr. Remy Nelson’s Therapy Cards - an exquisite collection of Cartes de Thérapie and Tarjetas de Terapia designed to guide you on a profound journey toward mental well-being. Immerse yourself in the power of therapeutic affirmations and messages carefully crafted to address anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and the common struggle of not feeling good enough. With 64 unique cards in each deck, these cards are your daily companions on the path to healing.

Unlocking the Power of Therapy Cards:
Dr. Remy Nelson's Therapy Cards are not just flashcards; they are gateways to self-discovery and resilience. Integrate them seamlessly into your daily routine – draw a card in the morning, afternoon, and just before bedtime. Contemplate the messages, meditate, pray, and repeat the affirmations to set the tone for your day and promote better mental health.

Morning, Afternoon, and Evening Rituals for Improved Well-being:

Prioritizing Mental Health: Cultivate a habit of focusing on thoughts and feelings that align with better mental health.
Self-Care with Therapy Cards: Internalize the messages, practice affirmations throughout the day, and witness the positive transformation in your overall well-being.
Targeting Specific Mental Health Challenges:
In a world that rarely pauses, Dr. Remy Nelson’s Therapy Cards offer a sanctuary for mental health. Individuals, therapists, counselors, psychologists, and social workers can harness the power of these cards to address specific challenges and therapy goals.

Empowering Group Therapy Sessions:
Therapists can utilize Therapy Cards in group settings, fostering a sense of community and support. Encourage reflections on card topics to facilitate behavioral changes and a shared journey toward healing.

Art, Journaling, and Creative Expression:
Unleash the artistic and journaling potential of Therapy Cards. Express your thoughts creatively - draw, write, and use colors to symbolize the progression of challenges from their worst to resolution.

Mindfulness and Meditation:
Integrate Therapy Cards into mindfulness practices. Read a card, meditate, relax, and let go. Allow the therapeutic wisdom to guide you to a state of profound mindfulness.

Family and Children's Well-being:
Therapy Cards transcend individual use. Families can embrace the therapeutic journey together, using the cards to foster coping mechanisms, navigate emotions, and strengthen bonds.

Embark on a journey of self-discovery, resilience, and well-being with Dr. Remy Nelson’s Therapy Cards. Illuminate your path to inner harmony and make every day a step toward a healthier, more vibrant life.

Therapy Cards
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09K4HFR5P?ref=myi_title_dp

Cartes de Thérapie
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09KQ9K1DC?ref=myi_title_dp

Tarjetas de Teerapia
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09KQ77JRG?ref=myi_title_dp

Monday, November 20, 2023

Compassionate Gender Dysphoria Therapy

Monday, November 20, 2023 @ 1:04 PM

I’m a Registered Psychotherapist specializing in Gender Dysphoria. In recent years, the prevalence rate of gender dysphoria, especially in young children, has significantly increased. Understandably, this increase has presented new challenges in caring for and educating children.

As this has been an issue of increasing concern within my professional practice, I now am making available a free video resource and other services that may be beneficial to parents, caretakers, and educators. I have put together a recording which provides some background information on Gender Dysphoria.

While one presentation is not enough to explain everything it provides some understanding on how protocols around gender transition have changed recently and over time. This is a field that is rapidly developing and has seen drastic change over the last 10 years. If you have any questions, please let me know. You can find the video at the following link. https://youtu.be/wK3jZ5fCpRg

Sunday, November 19, 2023

When Busy is Bad

Sunday, November 19, 2023 @ 5:23 PM

We’re all busy. We have deadlines, expectations, and places to be. Busy isn’t bad. Busy can often be a sign of a healthy life being well lived. It’s inevitable we’ll have times where we’re busier than at other times. These busy days or seasons don’t have to derail our spiritual focus or hinder our walk with Christ.

Solomon reminded, “Keep your eyes focused on what is right and look straight ahead to what is good” (Proverbs 4:25), and Paul encouraged, “My eyes are on the crown. I want to win the race and get the crown of God’s call from heaven through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

We have such a gift of perspective, friends. Because of Jesus, our purpose is clear, our daily tasks that often keep us busy can take on new meaning. But even with an overall spiritual outlook on life, we’re bound to find ourselves in situations where busyness derails our focus. If you find yourself busy, and also feeling anxious or exhausted, the busyness in your life may have become problematic.

Busyness can become problematic when we use it as
· An excuse for not prioritizing the most important areas of our lives.
· A badge of honor worn with pride, reminding us of our worth.
· A way to numb our uncomfortable feelings.
· An armor we wear to avoid experiencing the pain of life.

There are two common ways this can happen:
1. If you have a hard time saying no, or difficulty recognizing your own capacity, you may routinely take on more than you can handle. This can set you up to feel overwhelmed and incompetent.
2. If you’re afraid you’ll miss out on opportunities to connect with others and nourish relationships, you may tend to overcommit yourself. What you’re looking for is connection, but the over-commitment can have the opposite effect and may create a sense of loneliness and isolation.

If either one of these scenarios sound familiar, try taking an honest assessment of how you’re spending your time. Then, ask yourself these two questions:
1. “Am I able to be fully engaged and present in every activity of which I find myself a part?” If the answer is “No”, that may be your cue to reevaluate your commitments.
2. “Do I feel connected and happy after spending time in a specific activity?” If you feel sad or lonely or overwhelmed, you again may find it helpful to reevaluate your busy schedule.

Try these ideas to help you refocus and reduce overwhelm from busyness:
• Schedule in some “white space” on your calendar this week. We’re more likely to do the things
we plan for, so plan for unscheduled blocks of time.
• Look for natural ways to group similar tasks. Batching tasks prevents us from having to “switch
gears” as often and therefore saves time. It allows us to prevent additional time setting up for
similar tasks and improves focus.
• Make lists and keep your “To Do’s” somewhere besides your brain. Your day may be busy, but
your mind doesn’t have to be cluttered!

Being busy, active, and about the work God has set out for you to do individually, and as a part of the body of Christ is good. Allowing yourself to become so busy that your purpose feels muddled, however, can be a sign to slow down, allow yourself to reassess and rest. I love how author Mark Buchanan puts it, “Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.”

Friday, November 10, 2023

Filling a Half-empty Glass

Friday, November 10, 2023 @ 9:44 AM

Do you view your glass as half empty or half full? Trying times can challenge us to rethink our expectations, values, and goals. Read this story of a gifted writer who lost virtually everything – to the point that his glass was nearly empty, and how he refilled his glass with faith.

John felt devastated when his father died weeks before his planned wedding. Lost forever was the opportunity to clink a champagne glass full of hope with his beloved Dad. Struggling with depression, John sought psychiatric care and started taking a common antidepressant. Despite a postponement, the wedding events resembled a Greek tragedy as John's depressive symptoms worsened to the point that the couple canceled their long-awaited honeymoon.

The Glass Half Empty
During the first weeks of marriage, John's psychiatrist ignored his complaints of confusion and agitation until he became delusional. Days after starting antipsychotic medication, he became more disoriented as he reported symptoms of blurred vision and flashing lights in his peripheral vision. His primary doctor and ophthalmologist dismissed his physical complaints as psychotic delusions. Desperate to please his boss, he worked for a week in this condition. On his last day at work, his new bride found him in the parking lot outside his office, kneeling on the cold December pavement and staring into his car, mumbling incoherently.

The next day, John's wife brought him to a local hospital emergency room, where he was admitted to the psychiatric unit. Branding him with the diagnosis of "schizoaffective disorder" (chronically depressed and psychotic), the hospital psychiatrist dosed him heavily with powerful antipsychotic medications. The hospital staff discharged John a week later in far worse condition than when he entered, with the dire predictions that he would never drive or work again. Too confused to sign his name to a check, drive, read, or write a coherent sentence, John reluctantly resigned from his full-time writing job of 25 years.

The Glass Shatters
In the following weeks, John lost virtually everything in his life – his friends, purpose, standing in the community, financial security, adequate health insurance, and identity. Even his outpatient psychologist and psychiatrist abruptly abandoned him shortly after he lost his means to pay their fees. His few brief social encounters reeked of awkward silences in his presence and judging whispers when he went outside to smoke, his only reprieve from his horror. Some people even criticized him for smoking, being lazy, or not "getting over" his problems. No question, his new trials tested his new marriage. In the throes of intense grief, he withdrew from the world." My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer by night, but I find no rest." (Psalm 22: 1-2)

The Glass Half Full
John’s wife set up a GoFundMe page to solicit funds to pay his hospital bill. Donations offered mainly by relatives and the local Lions Club enabled John to pay his immediate medical bills.

After a period of mourning, John sought effective treatment. With the help of an inspired neurologist, John learned that he suffered a stroke, probably during the last week at his job. Finally, a glimmer of hope sparkled as he learned he could recover with occupational therapy. John reconnected with the few supportive people willing to hold conversations with him.

He practiced speaking several hours weekly with his trusted life coach, a new therapist, a cousin, and his chiropractor's receptionist. He practiced reading aloud and driving daily with his wife. He enrolled in a drawing and writing class at the local community college. With much encouragement from his writing teacher, he even started writing again. Soon, he felt ready to pursue part-time or volunteer work. Now, he could imagine his glass becoming half full. "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)

Refilling the Glass
After many community members ignored or refused his offers of volunteer service, John eventually landed a part-time job scrubbing pots and pans at a nursing home in a neighboring town. Soon, he delivered meals to nursing home residents in their rooms. They welcomed the opportunity to talk with him, even briefly. In time, his social skills improved enough to work at a neighboring town's health club facility. Following a demoralizing experience as a freelance writer, he gave up on writing and pursued rigorous training to become a licensed insurance producer. Upon passing his exams, he found an entry-level job working for a kind insurance agent in a neighboring town. His confidence grew. "I can do all this through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)

With loving encouragement from his Dad's older sister, John risked another attempt at writing – a part-time position at his old job. The community members who previously shunned him grew impressed with his recovered talents. As his skills improved, John landed two more prominent writing gigs and a full-time sales job with health insurance benefits. Finally, with the help of supportive people, John started to recoup the losses he suffered to the point where his glass overflowed with hope. "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12)

Dear Lord, please grant us the sensitivity and compassion to offer our friendship and support to everyone who struggles with behavioral health challenges. Amen.

Author: Jessica Loftus, Ph.D.
Image is under license from Shutterstock.com

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Other-Directedness and Anxiety: Does Focusing on Others Help or Hurt?

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 @ 9:05 PM

by Jennifer Martin Rieck, LCPC

An Overview of Early Maladaptive Schemas and Schema Therapy

In the world of Schema Therapy, which is the type of therapy I practice, an Early Maladaptive Schema is an adaptive but harmful belief system, or blueprint for interpreting information, that underpins the way that someone processes new information. According to the theory of Cognitive Consistency, as humans we are hardwired to look for consistency in our beliefs and experiences, even if doing so causes us problems. An Early Maladaptive Schema is formed when we have early childhood experiences that we internalize as representing truth, or being how things are globally. This is an example of a cognitive distortion called Overgeneralization, which occurs when we come to a conclusion about a specific event and then apply it to other unrelated events. When someone experiences a loss, such as losing a caregiver or parent by death or divorce early in life, they often form the belief that people will always leave in the end. This scenario often results in an individual having an Abandonment schema, which later results in repeated experiences that enforce the schema due to the individual engaging in behaviors driven by the anxiety caused by such a belief.

For example, most of us are familiar with relationally insecure individuals commonly being referred to as having “abandonment issues”. These individuals are often so clingy or needy with partners or friends that the partner or friends ends up leaving the relationship or making boundaries that cause the individual to feel abandoned. Many times these individuals are misunderstood by themselves and others, as they are acting on strong feelings and automatic thoughts. Without processing when and how their Abandonment schema was formed, and how it might be at the root of their painful feelings, these individuals will tend to misinterpret current situations and engage in behaviors that result in them being re-injured time and time again. The goal of Schema Therapy is not to pretend that painful early childhood experiences haven’t occurred or that painful messages haven’t been internalized, but rather to fully explore and acknowledge those experiences, and the messages that we’ve taken away from them, in a way that prevents us from acting unconsciously and subsequently reliving the same painful scenarios over and over again.

An Introduction to Other-Directedness Schemas

Other-Directedness domain schemas of Subjugation, Self-Sacrifice, and Approval Seeking are three different Early Maladaptive Schemas that are evaluated for and treated as problematic in Schema Therapy due to the fact that they often underpin an individual’s anxiety and/or depression. Each of these three schemas have to do with being overly focused on the feelings, needs, opinions, and reactions of others. Individuals with high scores in these schemas tend to have poor boundaries and a distorted sense of responsibility. Overly focusing on others and being overly accountable for another person’s feelings, needs, behaviors, and attitudes, creates an unhealthy style of being in relationship with others. Focusing on what one cannot control removes an individual’s sense of power and prevents investing emotional energy where the person does have power.

Subjugation Schema

The schema of Subjugation has to do with feelings of inferiority regarding ones own needs and desires and a strong belief that it isn’t safe to express emotions. It makes sense that if someone grew up in an environment where it truly wasn’t safe to express emotions, because they had an angry or volatile parent or would be punished for doing so, that over time a child would begin suppressing and silencing their thoughts and feelings in order to feel safe or to prevent harm. However, this sort of chronic suppression often results in inner turmoil and anger, as an individual can’t articulate what they are truly feeling and thinking and subsequently can’t get their needs met. With this schema comes a lot of inner turmoil and frustration over what is okay to say and do and want and what isn’t.

Self-Sacrifice Schema

Self-Sacrifice schema is another very common harmful schema that often results from growing up in environment where the message they received from caregivers was that there was no room for their emotions due to the parent’s own limited emotional capacity or a parent being self-absorbed. When a parent reacts negatively to their child’s emotions it unfortunately sends the message that the child’s emotions are problematic and that if the child wants to be well-liked they shouldn’t need anything from others. The child takes away the message that they should be mature, independent, and self-sufficient. Unfortunately, adults with this schema often wind up with emotionally unhealthy partners and friends due to the fact that they don’t require empathy or understanding or accommodations from others. These individuals often become increasingly depressed and/or anxious because they spend all of their time focusing on the needs and feelings of others and suppressing their own. They often feel extremely guilty for holding others accountable due to the fact that they believe their job is to be of comfort to others and that there is no room for their emotions and needs.

Approval Seeking Schema

Approval Seeking is the third of the Other-Directedness schemas, and is pretty self-explanatory. Individuals who have high Approval Seeking schemas often wind up living inauthentic lives based on the preferences and desires of those around them. These individuals experience a lot of anxiety as they attempt to get the things they want only if they can garner the full support and affirmation of those close to them. It becomes very hard then for these individuals to make choices or make changes to their lives that would make them happy, because they can rarely get everyone on board with their ideas.

Regardless of which of the Other-Directedness schemas you have (or perhaps you even have all three), the research is clear that these belief systems, regardless of how “nice and considerate” they seem, are often what underpin the mental health struggles of many individuals. It is important work for individuals who struggle with these schemas to practice being self-validating and to really acknowledge the fact that having a healthy life and healthy relationships means being true to oneself. No amount of looking to others, whether it’s to avoid anger, care give or serve, or garner approval, will ever result in healthy, congruent decisions or healthy relationships. In fact, too often these schemas are the reason that relationships are unsatisfying and individuals feel unseen or lonely.

Healing Other-Directedness Schemas

If you struggle with any of the Other-Directedness schemas, your work is to become more self-focused and to only operate within your own boundary of responsibility. I often encourage my clients to constantly remind themselves to “stay in [their] lane”. The more somebody swerves into another’s lane and takes ownership for another’s issues, preferences, desires, and the more that someone attempts to manage other’s feelings, the more stressed and helpless they feel. Being self-focused and accountable increases a person’s internal locus of control, or their sense of having the power needed to effectively make changes to their life. Someone who is self-aware and practices being accountable for themselves, and not others, is able to put their energy to good use and create changes and make choices that support their identity and wellbeing and that improve their mental health.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

10 Practical Tips for Postpartum Rage

Saturday, September 16, 2023 @ 12:11 PM

Bringing a new life into the world is undoubtedly one of the most transformative experiences a woman can go through. While motherhood is often depicted as a time of joy and bonding, it's essential to recognize that it can also be challenging and emotionally complex.

Postpartum emotions can range from elation to exhaustion, but there's one aspect that often remains in the shadows: postpartum rage. In this blog, we'll delve into what postpartum rage is, why it happens, and provide you with 10 practical tips to cope with it.

What is Postpartum Rage?

Postpartum rage, also known as postpartum anger, is an intense and often overwhelming emotional response that some new mothers experience after giving birth. It is characterized by sudden bursts of anger, irritability, and frustration that can be directed towards loved ones, the baby, or even oneself. These feelings of rage can be accompanied by guilt and confusion, leaving new mothers feeling isolated and anxious.

Why Does Postpartum Rage Happen?

Understanding the underlying causes of postpartum rage is crucial for effective coping strategies. While the exact triggers may vary from one person to another, there are several common factors that contribute to postpartum rage:

1. Hormonal Changes: The dramatic shift in hormones during and after childbirth can lead to mood swings and heightened emotions. These hormonal fluctuations can make it difficult to regulate anger and frustration.

2. Sleep Deprivation: Newborns require around-the-clock care, which often results in sleep deprivation for new mothers. Lack of sleep can amplify stress levels and make it harder to manage emotions.

3. Physical Discomfort: The physical toll of pregnancy and childbirth, along with the recovery process, can leave women feeling physically uncomfortable and in pain. This discomfort can exacerbate feelings of anger and irritability.

4. Overwhelming Responsibilities: The demands of caring for a newborn, coupled with household chores and other responsibilities, can become overwhelming. Many new mothers feel intense pressure to meet unrealistic expectations, which can fuel anger and frustration.

5. Support System: A lack of adequate support from partners, family, or friends can contribute to feelings of isolation and resentment, increasing the likelihood of experiencing postpartum rage.

10 Practical Tips to Cope with Postpartum Rage

Now that we've explored what postpartum rage is and why it happens, let's discuss 10 practical tips to help new mothers cope with this challenging emotional experience:

1. Seek Professional Help: If you find that postpartum rage is significantly impacting your daily life and relationships, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Therapy can provide a safe space to discuss your feelings and develop coping strategies. Make sure to connect with a counselor who is certified in perinatal mental health (PMH-C) to ensure that they have the expertise and experience with postpartum mental health.

2. Connect with Other Moms: Joining a support group or connecting with other new mothers can be incredibly beneficial. Sharing your experiences and hearing from others who are going through similar challenges can help reduce feelings of isolation.

3. Prioritize Self-Care: Don't neglect self-care. Take breaks when you can, even if they're short, to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. This might include reading, taking a bath, or going for a walk.

4. Communicate with Your Partner: Open and honest communication with your partner is crucial. Express your feelings and let them know how they can support you. Remember that you're a team and sharing responsibilities can alleviate some of the stress.

5. Establish a Routine: Creating a structured daily routine can help provide a sense of stability and predictability in your life. Knowing what to expect can reduce feelings of chaos and frustration.

6. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and meditation, can be powerful tools for managing anger and irritability. These practices can help you stay grounded and calm during challenging moments.

7. Delegate Tasks: Don't hesitate to ask for help from friends and family. Whether it's cooking, cleaning, or taking care of the baby for a little while, delegating tasks can give you much-needed relief.

8. Limit External Stressors: Identify and minimize external stressors that contribute to your rage. This might involve limiting exposure to negative news, setting boundaries with demanding family members or simplifying your daily routines. Learn to say “no” during this season of life. Remember that this is a season of receiving not giving.

9. Track Your Emotions: Keeping a journal to track your emotions can be insightful. Writing down your feelings when they occur can help you identify triggers and patterns, allowing you to develop better coping strategies.

10. Be Kind to Yourself: Remember that it's normal to experience a wide range of emotions during the postpartum period, including anger. Be gentle with yourself and avoid self-criticism. Seek support and remember that you're doing your best.

Conclusion

Postpartum rage is a challenging and often misunderstood aspect of new motherhood. It's essential to recognize that experiencing anger or irritability during this time is not uncommon, and there are practical steps you can take to cope with it.

By seeking support, practicing self-care, and communicating with your partner, you can navigate this emotional journey and focus on bonding with your newborn. Remember that you are not alone, and with time and support, postpartum rage can become more manageable, allowing you to embrace the joys of motherhood.

If you would like additional support with postpartum mental health, please visit:

https://amybraunlcpc.com/postpartum-depression-treatment-chicago
https://amybraunlcpc.com/postpartum-anxiety-therapy-chicago

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Healthy Cell Phone Habits for Your Kids

Thursday, August 17, 2023 @ 12:45 PM

Based on extensive research studies, it is evident that children on social media checking on their number of likes and followers have led to increased number of suicides (pre-COVID). Many children suffer from anxiety due to their activity on social media and feeling not good enough or unloved. Research says that the amount of time spent on social media negatively effects children’s well-being and mental health. However, there is good news…we have tips that may be benefit your children and family unit.

 Tip #1: Connection before Correction
o It is imperative that you establish a healthy relationship with your children before jumping right into rules. Rules without relationship leads to rebellious children. Talk with your children about the research studies mentioned above and engage in a dialogue to answer their questions.
 Tip #2: Delay social media until High School
o Although this is very difficult and you may get lots of push back from your children, it is beneficial to resist giving in. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Children’s Online Privary Protection Act (COPPA) children are not legally permitted to be on social media until they are 13 years of age. There are lots of content that your children under the age of 13 should be restricted from viewing.
 Tip #3: Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom at night
o There have many horror stories of children getting into troubling situations after they turn in for the night having their phones with them in their beds. To help parents avoid unfortunate events from occurring, it is best practice to collect your children’s phones every night about an hour before bedtime. Watch out for your children making excuses of why they need their phones with them at night such as “But Mom, I need it for my alarm”. Be strong and keep their phones and buy them an alarm clock.

Provide your children with evidence-based research of why you are setting these ground rules surrounding their possession of a smart phone. You will be saving them from negative thoughts about themselves and prevent them from experiencing severe levels of anxiety and depression.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Is There A Cure For Depression?

Friday, May 12, 2023 @ 2:00 PM

Depression is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in daily activities. While there are treatments available that can help manage symptoms, many people wonder if there is a cure for depression. In this blog post, we'll explore this question and discuss what options are available for those struggling with depression.

What is Depression?

First, it's important to understand that depression is a complex condition with many possible causes. It can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics, life events, or a combination of these factors. Depression can happen in episodes. While symptoms may be relieved, it doesn’t guarantee that a situation may come up that could trigger those symptoms to return. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all cure for depression.

How Can I Feel Less Sad?

However, there are treatments available that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These include:

1. Medication: Antidepressant medication can be effective in treating depression by rebalancing chemicals in the brain. It's important to work closely with a healthcare provider to find the right medication and dosage for your specific needs.

2. Speaking With a Counselor: Speaking with a professional to help individuals identify negative thought patterns and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.

3. Lifestyle changes: Making positive lifestyle changes can also help manage symptoms of depression. This can include regular exercise, a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. These activities can boost feel good chemicals in your brain called endorphins. Just by making small changes, you can experience a boost in your mood.

4. Faith and Prayer: Faith and prayer can provide comfort and hope when experiencing an episode of sadness. We can also seek comfort and support from our faith community, whether that be through prayer, Bible study, or fellowship. As Christians, we can also find hope and comfort in our faith. We believe that God is with us in our struggles and that He can bring healing and restoration to our lives. We can turn to the Bible for encouragement and strength, and we can pray for guidance and wisdom as we navigate our mental health journey.

5. Getting a Routine. Depression can strip away the structure from your life. One day can melt into another. Setting a daily schedule can help get you back on track.

6. Set goals. It is not uncommon to feel like you can’t accomplish anything when you are feeling depressed. This can make you feel worse about yourself. To reset, set small goals for yourself and then add as you accomplish them. As you meet your goals, it is important to celebrate the milestones. Celebrate in the manner that is most meaningful to you.

You Can Get Help Today

While there may not be a cure for depression, it is possible to manage symptoms and live a fulfilling life with the right treatment and support. It's important to work with a counselor to develop a goal that considers your unique needs and circumstances.

It's also important to recognize that seeking help for depression is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, reaching out for help is the first step toward feeling better.

You can live a fulfilling life despite struggling with depression.

Get help today. Call 443-860-6870 or use the calendar to schedule an appointment.

Friday, May 5, 2023

More Than We can Imagine

Friday, May 5, 2023 @ 3:39 PM

Years ago, I worked as a medical social worker and bereavement counselor in hospice. It was a role that was meaningful, profound, humbling, terrifying, and beautiful, often all at the same moment. There were so many times over the years when I wondered what difference I could make amid the deep pain of the loss being experienced around me. The reality of death was raw, biting, and indiscriminating. Death came to the young and old; the rich and poor; the solitary individuals and to those surrounded by family and friends.

Looking back on that time, I see a woman who began her work in hospice bearing a shield. I was often very frightened, and I felt very small. So I strode into a patient’s home like a knight grasping my armor, ready to fend off arrow and spear, terror and fear. Now, I feel such remorse as I remember that clinician. I must have come across as removed and protected and perhaps as if I was hiding behind a flimsy, false wall of knowledge and efficacy.

God was working on me, though, as death and pain and sorrow taught me time and again that all the protective mechanisms I conjured up were bound to fail. No matter how high my castle walls, death would still come to me and those I love. It seems miraculous, but the Holy Spirit was hard at work in me and on me, melting away my falseness, shattering my pride, stripping away the defenses I’d kept in place. I believe it was then, when by grace I learned to embrace my own naked vulnerability, that I began to develop into a person who could be a healing, loving presence for those who were grieving.

I have a favorite scripture passage that guides me now, from Ephesians 3:20: “Now all praise to God, who through the power at work within us is able to do far more than we could ask or imagine….” What I learned all those years ago was that in walking in the truth of my own vulnerable, fragile humanity, in reaching out and meeting a grieving person from this humbled place, God’s spirit can do healing, wondrous, sacred, profound work. When my vulnerable heart meets your broken one and we invite God’s presence, the Holy Spirit shows up with works beyond any I can do alone and with a power and mystery and love that teach me about life, death, and the resurrected Christ over and over again.

“Now all praise to God, who through the power at work within us can do far more than we could ask or imagine!”

By Annie Dalby

Monday, April 10, 2023

Finding Strength in Weakness

Monday, April 10, 2023 @ 12:23 PM

If the story of Samson is any indication, men can have all the God-given strength in the world and still be thwarted by our own temptations. No matter how strong we are physically or mentally it means nothing if we are not spiritually strong.

The only protection against sin is our reliance upon the Word and Power of God. If we turn to God in times of weakness, asking for guidance and protection, He will give us the wisdom and fortitude to overcome anything Satan throws at us.

That's why I love the story of Samson. Despite everything he's lost, despite everything he's been through, even in his last dying moment he finds strength in his weakness and relies on the Power of God to help him vanquish his enemies. Like Samson, we cannot fight the enemy alone. For us to heal, grow, and thrive we need the Power of God every step of the way.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Loss, Burial and Resurrection as a Life and Leadership Concept

Friday, April 7, 2023 @ 7:55 PM

What is gone in your life? What have you lost? What has gone away? What seems irretrievable?

Have your kids gone away to college?, Have one of your staff left? Has your status changed?, Are you grieving the way things used to be in life and at work?

All these questions are, in a sense, rhetorical in that they deal with losses that we have in life. It is important for us to grieve the stuff to understand the loss and the feelings around them.

Next step: Have you buried your loss? Given it away? Given it up? Given it over to God? Let it go?, Put it out of reach?, Let go of control?, Given responsibility away?, Let go of your freedom and privilege?, Let go of your entitlement? This important step allows for a clean break from your loss, at least for a season.

Last step. This is where we allow for resurrection. Perhaps the Phoenix bird arises from the ashes as it did after the Oakland fire. If you have any doubts go back and look at the beautiful houses in that neighborhood. Perhaps it's redemption or vindication for you or some you know. Perhaps you reinvent your career and reinvent yourself. Maybe you take on a new role at work. I know of a guy who was involved in a scandal at church. Today he helps ministers avoid finding themselves in that hot water. What resurrection are you waiting for? God is God of resurrection so don't forget to ask. Joseph, in Genisis, let's his old life die and be buried and then it's resurrected in his life in Egypt as VP of the country and reunification with his family.

Find help in identifying what may need to be grieved, buried and resurrected in some new form or another. A good friend, counselor or coach can help you do that.