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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.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

10 Benefits of Summer Horse Camp

Thursday, April 6, 2023 @ 2:21 PM

Hope Reins

Our Camp is a social skills camp and a summer camp.

Social Skills Camp
A social skills camp offers many benefits for children. Research shows that those who have better social skills and a higher EQ (emotional IQ) tend to do better at school, in friendships, and even in future jobs. Our social skills camp offers an experience that focuses on learning and practicing the social and emotional skills of Respect, Relationship Skills, Responsibility, Boundaries, Choices, and Consequences. We also teach and practice how to manage feelings using mindfulness and self-regulation skills. We do this all while working with horses!

Horse Camp
We are a horse camp too. Your child or teen will learn all about horses and how one’s intention and ability to manage emotions affect the ability to connect and lead horses. We partner the students up with the horses to practice problem-solving, social skills and self-regulation, and more. All the social skills that we teach are needed to be effective with horses so your child will not just be learning them but practicing these skills! We keep camps at a max capacity of 8 children so every child has a chance to learn and practice with a horse.

Horse Camp Dates:
June 12th-16th for 7-12 years old

July 17th-22nd for Teens

Go here to sign up:
https://www.hope-reins.com/blog/benefits-of-summer-camp

Now let’s get to the overall benefits of summer camp. We’ve got 10 of ‘em and they’re all good ones. Grab a cup of coffee or a snack because this is about to get very educational!

Top Ten Benefits of Summer Camp
1. Your child will get outdoors!

I don’t know about you but my mom would always kick me out of the house to play most days, but especially when the weather was nice. It was fun to play outside and explore. Nowadays this is harder to accomplish with fears about safety and competition with screens. Our camp is located on a beautiful 20-acre property 45 miles from Chicago. We have beautiful oak trees, hills, ponds, and of course horses. Your kid will be immersed in nature! Research has seemingly caught up with what moms seemed to know. There are numerous studies that show being outdoors just 2 hours a week (only 18 minutes a day) leads to improvement in both cognitive and emotional health in children and adults*. In a large study of children ages 0 to 10 years old, for those who spent more time outdoors, there was less risk for depression, mood disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse*. Those who had the least time outdoors had a 55% greater chance of being diagnosed with a mental illness later in life*. Scientists theorize that the more humans are out in nature, they develop a “sense of awe” and feel connected to something bigger than themselves*. And really it is just old fashioned fun!

2. Your child will get off screens:

While being outdoors has great benefits for the health and well-being of children, studies show the opposite for the effects of screen time. Children are more sedentary, experience less time outside, and have trouble interacting socially (i.e eye contact). A recent study showed an increase in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in preteens with more screen time. The study showed that for every hour of screen time, there was a 15% chance of developing OCD*. Another study showed children who are given screens to calm down have less ability to self-soothe or regulate emotions. I think children and teens who are on screens a lot can forget that being outside can be fun. Camp can be a great way to break this pattern.

3. Your child will practice independence:

Children have the chance to experiment with learning new things in a new way. Instead of being in the structured school experience with their usual friend groups; your child or teen will be given the opportunity to be independent, branch out, and explore new skills without judgment or preconceived notions. In our camp, children will have the opportunity to learn, brainstorm and practice the key concepts of emotional intelligence. They will have to master what empathy and connection are as they work with a horse. Horses won’t just automatically ‘connect’ but will assess each child’s ability to connect with them by how well they use the skills.

4. Your child will have fun:

Our camps also make sure that there is fun while learning new skills. Time at school is filled with tests, and performance pressure but our camps are filled with creative, fun, and unique experiences. So even while they are learning new concepts, we incorporate silly costumes and laughter in everything we do. It keeps the challenges fun and playful instead of overwhelming. And they get to see how horses also enjoy the fun!

5. Your child will practice teamwork:

Camps are typically organized in teams and encourage problem-solving and working together in creative and fun ways. Children get to see what they can do in a team vs individually. So while independence and individual activity are important, they will also practice how to be effective in a group. Since horses live in a herd, they are amazingly skilled at making sure everyone is working together as a team.

6. Your child will learn unique skills:

Camps are designed to introduce a skill, teach the skill, and then practice for a whole week. At our summer social skills camp, we focus on the skills of respect, empathy, emotional regulation, making healthy choices, fostering relationships, and setting healthy boundaries. Our facilitators are all counselors with master’s degrees and certified horse specialists with many years of experience. The horses provide honest and unbiased feedback right away. Your child will immediately know if they are practicing the skills of emotional intelligence. And since horses don’t hold grudges they will adjust as your child adjusts. All of this leads to empowerment as your child sees what works and what doesn’t. One of our favorite comments of all time is when a camper said, ‘It’s like the horses know exactly what we are learning for the day!”

7. Your child will get moving:

Most summer camps get kids moving in lots of fun ways, like hiking or canoeing. At our camp, we integrate movement and breathwork whether the students are walking in the pasture with a horse or stretching to relax their bodies. Since horses require a calm and congruent presence, your child will begin to develop body awareness and skills that help with managing their emotions. Movement can be key to self-regulation. And of course, we all know just like our moms did that physical activity is always healthy!

8. Your child will develop confidence:

Being away from home or their usual environment gives children and teens the opportunity to see what they are capable of. Many children don’t feel confident because they haven’t had the chance to try something new or different. Or perhaps they worry about being judged in school and feel stuck in the“box” of what others think of them. Camp allows participants to broaden their horizons. Since horses are animals of prey, they require a confident and calm presence to feel safe. If someone is pretending to be ok –smiling on the outside– but is really afraid or negative on the inside, the horse will know and will not feel safe. So in order to be effective in working with a horse, your child must practice what it takes to be determined inside and out. This leads to huge bursts of confidence when they see how they can lead a 1000-pound animal!

9. Your child will have new friend opportunities

All summer camps give children the opportunity to meet new people. Often they will get a chance to meet people from different racial or economic backgrounds. And some can become lifelong friends as camp friends often share unique and unforgettable experiences. In our camp, we are zeroing in on the skills it takes to start and maintain healthy friendships. For a child who struggles with developing friends, this camp focuses on developing social skills and managing anxiety that can stop them from trying. We also discuss how to have healthy boundaries so that they don’t sacrifice their values to just “have friends”.

10. Your child will be challenged to grow in a safe environment:

Our camps are led by a Master's-level counselor and at least one Certified Equine Specialist. This provides a high level of emotional and physical safety while challenging your child in a way that leads to growth. We have a curriculum that is designed to help children develop emotional intelligence. Your child will reap the benefits of individualized and group coaching from those who are specially trained in these areas. And research shows that as your child’s EQ improves, they tend to do better academically, socially, and in future jobs. We purposely keep groups small so each child has the chance to practice these skills individually and in the group with the horses. Instead of just hearing about these skills, campers get to practice using them with the horse. That leads to better learning and remembering!



*Sources:

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201608/nature-therapy

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0963721419854100

https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1807504116

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1054139X22007224

Monday, April 3, 2023

Therapy cards, Counseling cards, Tarjetas de terapia, Tarjetas de consejería, Cartes de thérapie, Cartes de conseil, Counseling material, therapist helper, therapy resource

Monday, April 3, 2023 @ 5:01 PM

Caja de 64 tarjetas de terapia (5” x 3”) hermosas, motivadoras, inspiradoras, empoderadoras y edificantes del Dr. Remy Nelson, un psicoterapeuta líder que sirve a Florida y Nueva York. El Dr. Nelson ha estado ayudando a clientes durante muchos años, y sus tarjetas de terapia en inglés, cartes de thérapie (francés) y tarjetas de terapia (español) están diseñadas para ayudarlo a manejar sus sentimientos y mejorar la calidad de su día. Las tarjetas están recomendadas para jóvenes y adultos de todas las edades.
 
Pueden ayudarlo a enfrentar una variedad de desafíos de la vida, incluida la autoestima, la autoestima, no sentirse lo suficientemente bien, la ansiedad, la depresión, solo por nombrar algunos de los problemas que las tarjetas pueden ayudarlo a abordar. Puede usar las tarjetas cuando esté en terapia, contemplando ir a terapia o no planeando asistir a terapia en absoluto.
 
Cómo puedes usar las tarjetas: Hay 64 cartas en cada paquete de cartas (disponibles en inglés, español y francés). Use las tarjetas para establecer el tono de su día, para meditar, para  orar o simplemente leer. Puede sacar uno al día y leerlo por la mañana, por la tarde y por la noche antes de acostarse.

English Cards Link:

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

French Cards Link:

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

Spanish Card Link:

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Mental health thought of the day.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023 @ 7:46 PM

Mental health thought of the day.

Today I want to take a moment to discuss a major mental health issue I find myself dealing with various clients. And that issue is Narcissistic abuse. Primarily the Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist.
A lot of you who are on my Face Book page, my old Face Book Page, Second Chance Ministries and Wellness Centers new Face Book Page and the old Face Book page, know I am a Nationally Board Certified Clinical Christian Psychologist as well as the Senior and Head Pastor of SCMWC Those of you who know me personally know I am a Veteran from a dual service Navy/Army. You also know that I have three post graduate degrees, Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (PsyD), Doctorates in Religious Theological Studies with a dual minor in Biblical Studies/Ministries, and a Doctorates in Christian Psychology/ Christian Counseling with a dull emphasis in marriage and family dynamics and human behavior and trauma. I have always said you don’t wake up one day and say “ You know what? I think I am going to become a pastor and start my own Ministries and then I am going to add a Mental Health Center to it and practice Christian Counseling” You don’t just wake up and decided that. God calls you into Ministries, He tells you to start a Ministry and to add the Mental Health Clinic/ Wellness Center to it. He tell you in Scripture, That God new you before you were in the whom, He named You , He knows His plan for you and wants to bless you and see you prosper. In Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.”. Meaning is you are like me and thousands of others who have become victims of some sort of Domestic Violence from being in a Narcissistic relationship, and they have in some way continue to directly or indirectly control you , ( indirectly meaning through so call friends or family members , stalk social media or even have some kind of legal matter against you or on you ) Know this is you truly believe In Christ is your savior and you live your life in accordance to God purpose for you and the Kingdom. Rest assure this Scripture will apply to you and it will take place soon if it hasn’t already. Another scripture that goes right along with Isaiah 54:17 is Proverbs 16:7 “When people's lives please the LORD, even their enemies are at peace with them.” Once again in accordance with God purpose for you and the Kingdom if it hasn’t all ready happened , one day when God says the time is right those who did you wrong or abused you will come to you and beg for forgiveness and will sincerely apologize to you for what they did to you and how they treated you. God is a gentleman He can not and will never lie to you , leave you or forsake you. His word is absolute truth and you can trust and believe what God says and tells you will come to past. God timing is perfect and always , always right on time.
What makes the Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist so different then all other types of Narcissist is they play, act, and appear to be the “ nice guy/woman”. But are masters at deception and always playing the victim. I will go way more in depth about Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist, here in a little bit below. But first I want to say this, The number one thing all Narcissist absolutely hate and can not stand what so ever is when their victims i.e. you and those of you who can relate to this post , Over come the devastating hurt and pain the caused us. They hate and cant stand we have moved on with our lives, become genuine happy, we have rebuilt and better newer stronger life than before. We are more successful and we did it because they help us become who we are now simply by trying to destroy us. A couple other things about Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist most of the time but not all the time these type of Narcissist have undiagnosed BPD all so known as Boarder Line Personality Disorder. And some experts say the Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist are not born this way but are made this way by childhood trauma or early adulthood trauma, sometimes both. Experts also say that a Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist also more than likely do develop some form of BPD. They may have some if not all the markers of BPD. Now being a follower and having been Chosen by God Himself a few things will happen is not all ready happing to our ex the Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist. Their world since they discarded us has and is falling apart and will continue to do so until God brings them back into your life so they can apologize and ask for forgiveness. Don’t believe me! If you by chance or for whatever reason have some kind of contact either direct or indirect. Say social media or know someone who knows them. You will see a pattern by things going on in their life. And when you put two and two together you start to see, they genially regretting how they treated you and what they did to you. Especially if they where the type of person who actually for once turned to God and prayed for a person like you or I . Here the thing about prayers being answered. When you pray for someone and God sends them to you and you treat them like we where treated and discarded We are latterly telling God we know better then He does and what He gave us in answering our Prayers wasn’t good enough. . With that being said how do you think or imagine God is and will deal with them just off the account how they disregard and tossed a Blessing away like it was not good enough for them. Then lets factor in on how they Treated us knowing we were the ones God sent to them to answer their prayers. One can say in accordance to scripture God will never answer the same prayer twice or ever again. Two God will allow all kinds of bad things to happen in their lives to simply teach them a lesson. He not punishing them He is teaching them a lesson and not take blessings and answered Prayers for granted.
Genuine kind good hearted people like ourselves are rare. There isn’t a whole lot of us around. God purposely made very few of us for a reason. And don’t think for a moment or full yourself that you are not on their mind since the discard you are. On the surface they make it look life is going good and great for them but on the inside they are hurting really bad, they cant forget about you, they certainly can not forgive themselves and the have or are starting to realize that you were actually the one they Asked God to send them, there for if it hasn’t set in all ready regret will start to come< Remember they cant help who and what they are they suffer from some kind of trauma (I go into this when I go more in depth about the Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist. Pray for them, Pray that God heals them, works on them, and changes them, Like he did for us. Don’t blame them for anything they have do to you. Instead look at it as what they did for you. They helped you become a better version of you. Herman Hese said it the best “if you hate a person, you hate something in them that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us” . In my years of being a Mental Health Professional and working with people who have BPD, or some sort of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I have come to see a pattern and that pattern is. The Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist is a “good person” abuser they are more concerned with looking like a good person rather than actually being a good person. And the fact that we are genuine good hearted people by nature as God made us they hate us for it because they don’t truly know how to be one, do to trauma. They only know who to pretend to be a good person.

The Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist and why its so difficult to heal and recover from them after the discard.

There are many types of Narcissist Classifications, never the less what ever their sub classification is a Narcissist has a mental disorder Called NPD or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
The insidious Hypocritical and the Covert Narcissist share very similarities:
Both are very dangerous, neither one of these types of Narcissists are not obvious hypocrites like your typical Narcissist are. No both these types of Narcissists are obsessed with having an image that they are good people, honorable, kind and full of integrity. On the surface and on the out side they seem to embody these qualities. Especially to the masses. The people very close to them are usually the only ones who knows the monster behind the mask. But not always some times those closes to these types of Narcissist are fooled for a long period of time, or unless it really hits the fan and something happens to expose them. They are expert actors and Liars. These are the most insidious characters because they appear to be the exact opposite of the image they portray. This is a Covert Narcissist is often called a insidious Hypocritical Narcissist.
The covert Narcissist will always play the victim no matter what. They act like the are so empathetic, but in reality they do not nor do they have any real empathy. They have a humble demeanor and appear vulnerable and sensitive, but upon closer observation, you will come to see the intense resentment and jealousy they have towards others. They do things for others, such as build them up mentally emotionally financially even spiritually , however they always expect something in return. Be it a lot of praise or some sort of future obligation. Their reputation of bine the “Nice Guy/Girl” is everything to them. Their image means more to them then actual reality. They have a passive aggressive nature, and never deal with any form of conflict in a healthy direct manner. They can seem to be the most caring sensitive person in the world. Only to realize they are only sensitive and caring when it comes to themselves.
Typically covert Narcissist play a victim of domestic violence in some sort of since. They always call other people Narcissist to take the true image off of themselves. They even go as far as making up lies and stories about their victims(Supply) to the point they get domestic violence restraining orders on them.
The reason the Covert Narcissist is so much more damaging than a Overt narcissist is because for on the covert has a nice vulnerable persona so no one believes you. They are experts at playing the victim. They will “admit” the truth about what they did just to get fired from a job and throw co-workers under the bus, then turn around and make it seem you are the one to blame for them to get fired from their job. Or they play the victim so well that sometimes they make even make you feel guilty for things they are saying doing or how they are acting. The abuse ( typically mentally verbally and emotionally) is so insidious that it takes you a much longer time to realize you are the one in fact the one being abused. They come across to you and everyone else around them as the complete opposite of being the “Bad person” so you and others around them genuinely thing they are a good person, sometimes for long periods of time ( It literally hurts more when you realize they exact type of person they truly are because you are in utter disbelief, and shock) The cognitive dissonance is beyond through the roof. ( So much confusion nothing makes since ) Since everyone thinks they are such a great person, you get confused and sometimes doubt yourself. They are such great manipulators, liars, and play the victim and the “nice and innocent” one so well they can and will convince others you are the one doing all the wrong things and abuse to them. They are by far some of the best actors who have spent their whole lives appearing to be someone else. They even do good things for people. Typically these type of Narcissist are “Made” meaning some sort of past trauma has re-wired their brains for protection and in conjunction they may also suffer from BPD boarder line personality disorder.
Trauma changes who we are and how we relate to people. You no longer feel safe in world or in your own skin. Everyone and everything is a potential threat. You are always on high alert all the time and don’t even realize it. You are always in survival mode. And you don’t recognize it or realize it because your body has become accustomed to living this way.
This is how and why typically a covert Narcissist goes undiagnosed with BPD and are so hard to discover. Because they use the trauma they have endured either from childhood or early adulthood as a mask and cover up for their Narcissistic behavior and why they are the worse type of Narcissistic abuse to recover from. In the end at some point in your relationship you have experienced the typical narcissistic classic behavior such as love bombing, shaming, twisting and turning the narrative around making you out to be the one to blame, gaslighting, the smear campaign, the sudden discard, and finally you are the “bad person” who abused them.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Lessons Learned from Pope Benedict XVI

Friday, March 17, 2023 @ 3:57 PM

I recently came across a beautiful statement on a dear friend’s Instagram story. She wrote, “One Who Has Hope Lives Differently.” To be honest, I was procrastinating starting this blog post and decided to look for some “inspiration” on the app. Oh how the Lord provides. These six words stopped me in my tracks (or scrolling rather) and led me on a search to find out where this quote came from.

As it turns out, this line was taken from a writing by the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Our beloved Pope Emeritus died in December 2022, so it seems fitting to honor him in this month’s message. In his work titled, "Spe Salvi" or "Saved in Hope," Pope Benedict declares, “The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.”

In some ways I think it’s hard to put into words what living differently actually looks like. I believe you know it when you see it though. With that being said, we can look to the example of Pope Benedict himself as a man who lived differently and chose hope in the face of great sorrow and tragedy. During his youth he witnessed the horrific presence of the Nazi regime in his hometown and the influence it had on his family and local parish. His faith and love of the Lord fueled his desire to remain hopeful and continue in his pursuit of truth and goodness.

Saint Paul is another example of a man who lived differently. While under intense persecution he wrote the following words to the Thessalonians,

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “Hope keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude” Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 1997, para. 1818. Hope is an act of the will and it is a choice for all those who grieve. One who lives with hope believes that death does not have the final word. One who has hope lives with the expectation of eternity and the joy of seeing their loved ones again.

My friend who shared these words is certainly no stranger to grief as she mourns multiple losses in her own life. Through her example I can see that she lives life differently because of her hope. The clients that I have the honor to journey with also inspire me with the ways they choose trust over fear and faith over despair. It’s my desire that you can also call to mind someone you know who inspires you with their hope. Let’s say a prayer of thanksgiving for them now and ask for a blessing of endurance on their journey.

Information on Pope Benedict XVI’s life and the "Spe Salvi" full text can be found on the Vatican’s website, http://www.vatican.va.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). (1997). Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

By RACHEL DOLLARD

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Good Grief

Thursday, March 16, 2023 @ 2:33 PM

Good Grief

Charlie Brown famously expressed his dissatisfaction by exclaiming “good grief!” when his circumstances became unfavorable. This phrase is synonymous with feeling annoyed, bummed, or frustrated. The same feelings that can arise when trying to cope with the loss of a loved one. We are creatures that were divinely designed for connection and when that connection is lost, we experience deep pain and grief.

Experiencing grief is part of the universal human experience. As Christians, we have faith that death is not the end. We have hope in the resurrection and eternal life. However, this does not mean we are immune to the pain of grief. In fact, as we mourn the loss of a loved one, we may feel, even more intensely, the separation and loss of connection from the departed, and find little encouragement in faith and hope of eternal life. This struggle is a natural part of the healing journey. Feeling torn between two truths, feeling hopeless under the overwhelming pain of the life lost, and hopeful putting trust in life everlasting.

The Bible offers comfort and guidance in times of grief. Jesus himself understood sorrow, as he wept alongside the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). This shows that even with the knowledge that Lazarus would be raised from the dead, Jesus understood the pain of His followers and mourned alongside them because it is a natural and appropriate response to grieve when we lose someone that we love. There is no timeline suggesting that grief can only last for a moment. Some of us may spend a lifetime grieving a loss. Being able to identify feelings of grief and appropriately mourning is a step toward healing.

Feelings of grief can look like:

DENIAL

• Avoidance
• Shock
• Numbness
• Shutting Down
• Keeping Busy

ANGER

• Irritability
• Impatience
• Frustration
• Resentment
• Passive-aggressive behavior

BARGAINING

• Guilt
• Shame
• Blame
• Fixated on past or future
• Should have, could have, would have thinking

DEPRESSION

• Hopelessness
• Helplessness
• Reduced interest in activities
• Changes to sleep and appetite
• Reduced energy

ACCEPTANCE

• Understanding
• Compassion
• Vulnerability
• Present in the here & now
• Connecting with others

As Christians, we are invited to weep with those that weep (Romans 12:15) and to comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18) as the grieving journey can feel long and lonely.
We are called to love one another (John 13:34) and support each other in times of grief. As members of the body of Christ, we can bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and share in each other’s sorrows. We were not designed to go through the stages of grief alone. Community after loss is necessary to heal and find comfort.

How to build connection after a loss:
• Start therapy with a grief counselor
• Attend a grief process group
• Volunteer your time at local community site
• Go on a walk or hike with a friend
• Talk to someone about difficult feelings

Finally, in the midst of grief it is important to turn to God and seek His comfort and peace. Accepting pain as a part of life can help make room for uncomfortable feelings. Faith in a Higher Power relinquishes the need to understand why the loss happened, and instead offers us peace, through acceptance, that there is something greater waiting for our loved ones. Seek a counselor that utilizes Acceptance and Commitment based techniques to help with taking the first step in practicing acceptance as you grieve.

Ways to practice acceptance:

• Allow space for unwanted and uncomfortable feelings
• Research mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or mediation, to help you stay present in the here and now
• Practice separating yourself from your inner experience by recognizing your thoughts are just thoughts and begin to let go of the intense power they can have over you
• Ground yourself in your values, such as faith, family or community, to find the motivation to move forward in the action of acceptance
• Commit to one behavior that will help you move closer toward practicing acceptance, such as attending therapy to build community.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

“Can’t you just stop?”: Understanding Addiction

Thursday, March 9, 2023 @ 11:57 AM

Many assume that reducing alcohol or drug use is simply a matter of willpower and that all a person needs to do is just stop. This perspective can limit the motivation of the person trying to make changes in their using habits. Since often times, the sober curious person will relapse into old habits and then experience guilt or shame because they are not strong enough to stop.

Common misconceptions about addiction are:

• Stopping is a matter of willpower
• People choose to stay addicted and relapse
• Weak people struggle with addiction
• Addiction only affects certain groups and populations of people
• Functioning and stable people cannot develop harmful using patterns
• Rehab fixes everything
• You have to hit rock-bottom, end up in jail or be hospitalized to decide to change habits
• Only bad people drink or use drugs

These myths can prevent someone from seeking help because the misconception is that the addicted person is seen as weak, powerless and unfit to participate as a member in society. Instead of believing that there is hope, sober curious individuals will stay stuck in harmful patterns.

Thankfully, there has been an increase in the awareness of the truth behind addiction. Professionals are being taught harm-reduction techniques to help individuals achieve recovery goals.

Facts about addiction:

• Using habits can affect the reward system part of the brain, which alters the ability to practice discipline and willpower
• Addiction is not a choice, many factors contribute to developing a habit, such as; environmental, psychological and physical factors, family history, and early childhood experiences
• A struggle with addiction is not a sign of weakness but a consequence of various factors
• Addiction does not discriminate
• Anyone can function and still struggle
• Treatment can help with learning new ways to cope but sometimes it takes time to discover what will be the most helpful
• Anytime is the right time to make changes to harmful habits
• Using is not a reflection of poor character, it is a disease, bad people don’t get sick

Seeking support for yourself or a loved one is the first step toward making meaningful change. Regardless of wanting to stop completely or explore how habits affect life, therapy is a great place to start that journey. There are many faith-based 12-Step Recovery Groups available in-person and online. Individuals and their families no longer have to enter the battle of addiction alone. A licensed therapist can help process all the factors that influence using patterns and help create a plan for success.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Intersection of Anxiety and Faith

Sunday, March 5, 2023 @ 7:32 AM

Anxiety is a common mental health challenge that affects millions of people around the world. It can be characterized by feelings of worry, fear, and apprehension, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and difficulty breathing. While anxiety can be a normal response to stressful situations, it can also be a debilitating condition that interferes with daily life. Many people who struggle with anxiety find comfort and support in their faith. In this blog post, we will explore the relationship between anxiety and faith, and how faith can provide a source of comfort and healing for those who suffer from anxiety.

Anxiety and Faith: Understanding the Connection

Anxiety can be a complex and multifaceted condition, with many different causes and contributing factors. From a faith perspective, anxiety can be linked to feelings of fear and uncertainty, as well as a lack of trust in God. Many people who struggle with anxiety may feel that they are alone in their struggles, or that they are somehow inadequate or unworthy. These feelings can be compounded by cultural or societal pressures to appear strong and capable, even in the face of adversity.

Faith can play an important role in helping individuals to cope with anxiety by providing a sense of comfort and support. By placing trust in God, individuals can find strength and hope in the midst of their struggles. Faith can also provide a sense of community and connection, as individuals come together to support one another and share their experiences.

Practical Strategies for Coping with Anxiety through Faith

For those who struggle with anxiety, faith can provide a powerful source of comfort and healing. Below are some practical strategies for coping with anxiety through faith:

Pray and Meditate: Prayer and meditation can be powerful tools for managing anxiety. By taking time to connect with God, individuals can find peace and comfort in the midst of their struggles. Prayer and meditation can also help to quiet the mind and reduce feelings of worry and fear.

Seek Support: Building a community of support can be an important part of managing anxiety through faith. This can include attending religious services or support groups, connecting with a spiritual mentor or counselor, or simply reaching out to friends and family for support.

Practice Self-Care: Taking care of oneself is essential for managing anxiety through faith. This can include practicing mindfulness, getting enough rest and exercise, and eating a healthy diet. It can also include engaging in activities that bring joy and meaning, such as spending time in nature, listening to music, or volunteering.

Reframe Negative Thoughts: One of the keys to managing anxiety through faith is to reframe negative thoughts and beliefs. Rather than focusing on fear and worry, individuals can choose to focus on faith, hope, and love. By replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, individuals can begin to shift their mindset and find new sources of strength and resilience.

Practice Gratitude: Practicing gratitude is a powerful way to manage anxiety through faith. By focusing on the blessings and abundance in one's life, individuals can shift their focus away from worry and fear. This can include keeping a gratitude journal, saying prayers of thanksgiving, or simply taking time each day to reflect on the good things in life.

Conclusion

Anxiety can be a challenging and debilitating condition, but it is also a condition that can be managed and overcome. For those who struggle with anxiety, faith can provide a powerful source of comfort and healing. By placing trust in God, individuals can find strength and hope in the midst of their struggles. By practicing prayer, seeking support, engaging in self-care, reframing negative thoughts, and practicing gratitude, individuals can manage their anxiety and find peace and fulfillment in their lives.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

3-steps to improving and sustaining your mental health

Sunday, February 26, 2023 @ 10:03 PM

As human beings, we all face challenges and hardships in life that can affect our mental health and emotional well-being.

It's easy to find ourselves in situations where our mental health, or our emotional wellness is in a place of chaos. You may be struggling with strong feelings of anxiety, stress or depression, leaving you feeling paralyzed or debilitated.

Life doesn’t need to be this way. With self-reflection, support and some hard work, you can pursue a life full of joy, wellness and hope.

It is the topic of this article that we discuss how to develop a roadmap towards improving and sustaining your mental health.

Table of Contents
Getting to your destination: a mental health analogy 1
Step 1: It’s OK to not be ok’: Recognition of the problem 3
Step 2: Seeking help and setting a new trajectory towards positive mental health 4
Step 3: Setting ourselves on a journey of continuously pursuing mental health wellness. 4


Getting to your destination: a mental health analogy
Like many road trips, we set off with a destination in mind! “Today we are headed, from Calgary to the mountains!”. This is our first time driving this journey and it’s completely new! We pack up our stuff, get everyone into the car and start driving.

We think we know the way so we don’t have our GPS on and our phone is packed away to remove distraction.

As we continue to drive and get further from our starting location, we are surprised we cannot see the mountains in the distance; we also notice the ground is flat for as far as we can see; additionally, we are surprised that the sun in on the right side of the vehicle.

We begin to have a stronger and stronger feeling that ‘something is not ok’. As we evaluate these signs around us, we pull over, utilize our GPS and realize our fears are true: We have been driving east the whole time, away from the mountains. We are going in the wrong direction.

We install our GPS on our dashboard, plug in the destination, it plots a path, and we now start the back-tracking but on the right trajectory this time.

We turn the vehicle around, we navigate through the city and start going on the right path. Because we’ve now learned our lesson, we continue to check in with the GPS to make sure that we are still on track.

Finally, after the 30 minutes of back-tracking and the additional 60 minutes of driving, we reach our destination, Banff! We can now enjoy our day out and the beauty of the mountains and the town of Banff.

How this relates to our mental health.
This is a great analogy for our mental health (or the state of our emotional wellness). Many of us set off, as children, teenagers or adults with the ambition of being healthy, happy, successful people unencumbered by negativity, depression or anxiety (to name a few negative mental health signs).

After a few years, we start to notice the signs that ‘something is not ok’. We may be struggling with loneliness, addictions or not feeling like we’ve achieved what we had expected by this point in our life.

It’s at this point, like in the analogy, we need to review the ‘signs’ to determine if something is not okay. What is causing these negative feelings or outcomes? This article goes into more detail on this topic, later on, in Step 1: Recognition. If we continue to ignore the signs that something is wrong, we are going to continue down a road that leads to further mental health illness and stronger associated symptoms.

Leveraging resources and getting help
So in the analogy, once we detect something is wrong, we look for support from the GPS to determine if we are going in the wrong direction. Regarding our mental or emotional state, we need to do the same thing. We need to reach out for support and leverage available resources around us to determine if we need to ‘course-correct’ and set ourselves on a sustainable and life-giving trajectory. This is covered in this article in Step 2: Getting help.

Continuously developing ourselves and pursuing continuous emotional health improvement
So in the analogy, even though a course correction was made, there was additional driving time to back-track and then further driving toward the final destination. Similarly, in our own personal mental health journey, we may need to do some ‘back-tracking’. This may look like working through disappointments or missed expectations, forgiving people, and resolving past hurts, or processing life’s traumas (to name just a few).

Additionally, in the anology, we continuously go back to our GPS to ensure that we are still following the path laid out. In life, this is the powerfully important principle of self-reflection: am I continuing in a trajectory towards wholeness and health or am I starting to experience past or new negative mental health symptoms.

Step 3 of this article discusses ways that we can continuously develop ourselves and set ourselves on a journey of continuously pursuing mental health improvement.

There is no end destination when it comes to our mental health
It’s at this point where the analogy breaks down: In life, there really isn’t a ‘destination’ where we achieve perfect or complete mental health; it’s a continuous journey. It’s for this reason that what we discuss in Step 3 of this article is so vital: applying these Lifelong principles and practices will continuously support our growth and maturity as emotional beings.

Step 1: It’s OK to not be ok’: Recognition of the problem
Many of us have grown up in households, families, and cultures where our emotional state was either ignored, not appreciated or completely dismissed. Many of us may feel that it’s “not okay to be not okay”. Some of us may feel that, to admit that we aren’t ok, is a negative reflection on us, our families or our culture. This just isn’t the case. Here are 3 points that may help us understand why “It’s okay to not be okay”:

1. Mental health is a journey, not a destination: No one has a roadmap for life, understanding how every little interaction may impact you and your mental health. No-one is perfect, and everyone experiences ups and downs. It's important to understand that our mental health and emotional state is like a journey: There will be easy times, there will be difficult times, and there may be times where course corrections are required. This is normal and the reality for everyone.
2. Emotions are valid: Emotions are a natural response to life events, and they are valid no matter what they are. Whether it's anger, sadness, or anxiety, it's important to acknowledge and understand your emotions. What can be very detrimental is when we try to suppress or dismiss our emotions. In our analogy, that is like us ignoring all the signs that we are going east and we continue to drive in the wrong direction.
3. Mental health is just as important as physical health: In our society, many of us understand how to take care of ourselves physically: we need to eat well, exercise well, and get sufficient sleep. Well, mental health is just as important as physical health, and it's okay to prioritize it. It's important to take care of your mental health in the same way that you take care of your physical health. Additionally, your mental health can impact your physical health. Some great reading material on this topic is:
a. ‘The Body Keeps Score’ by Bessel A. Van Der Kolk and
b. ‘When the Body Says No’ by Gabor Mate

Now that we’ve understood the importance of our mental health and emotions, we can start to recognize signs that something may not be right and what resources can we call upon (like the GPS in our analogy) to get support and direction:

Step 2: Seeking help and setting a new trajectory towards positive mental health

So what are some ways that we can seek help and make necessary ‘course corrections’:
1. Seeking help from a mental health professional can help us understand what the root-cause issue may be that is impacting our mental health.
2. Find mentors that have a proven track record of having health in the area where you are struggling. Be intentional about asking for wisdom and guidance
3. Talk to people about how we are feeling. Openness and vulnerability can help us determine if what we are experiencing is simply just a stage of life or is the result of poor mental health or unsustainable situations we may find ourselves in.
4. Find good reading material. There are so many great books that can help us get a better understanding of our emotional state and educate us on ways of developing our Emotional Intelligence (referred to as EQ)


Step 3: Setting ourselves on a journey of continuously pursuing mental health wellness.

So, by this point, we have discussed how to recognize the signs of emotional or mental health concerns. Additionally, we’ve discussed how we can seek out help and get support.

Now how do we set ourselves up for success and wellness long term? Here are 10 tips for supporting and maintaining positive mental health:
1. Practice Self-care: Taking care of ourselves is important in maintaining good mental health. This can include activities like exercise, mindfulness, and hobbies that bring you joy.
2. Find community to connect and growth with: Mental health struggles are common and we are not alone. There are many resources available, including online support groups, hotlines, and local mental health clinics such as Master’s.
3. Talk about mental health: Talking about mental health is important in breaking the stigma and normalizing the conversation. Sharing our experiences with others can also provide support and help us feel less isolated.
4. Healing takes time: Healing from mental health struggles takes time and patience. Just like if you broke a bone, healing doesn’t come overnight, it takes time, rest and patience! It's important for us to be kind to ourselves and to understand that progress can be slow.
5. Recognize you are strong: Mental health struggles can be difficult, but you are strong for facing them. You have the courage and resilience to overcome them, and with the right support, you can find healing and peace. Make sure to find supportive people around you who encourage and build you up, not discourage and tear you down.
6. Find Healthy coping mechanisms: Finding healthy coping mechanisms is important in managing mental health struggles. This can include things like mindfulness, deep breathing, journaling, or talking to a trusted friend.
7. Medication and therapy can be helpful: For some people, medication can support the therapy process and can be helpful in managing mental health struggles. It's important to have an open and honest conversation with a mental health professional to determine what options might be best for you.
8. Set realistic goals: Setting realistic goals can help us feel more in control and give us a sense of purpose. Hoping to ‘not be depressed by next month’ after a lifetime struggle with depression is probably unrealistic. It's important to take things one step at a time and to be patient with ourselves. Have you ever taken a walk and turned around and been surprised how far you’ve walked? Approach your mental health journey that way: it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
9. Create a support system: Having a support system of friends and family can be incredibly helpful in managing mental health struggles. It's important to reach out to those we trust for support and seek help from mental health professionals when needed.
10. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health: Everyone's mental health journey is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting better. It's important to find what works for you and to be open to trying new things.


In conclusion, many of us may be struggling with low or poor mental health. If that’s you, you are not alone and it’s okay not to be okay. Our encouragement to you today is to a) recognize the state of your mental health, b) seek out support and help and c) set yourself on a journey of pursuing mental health improvement, recognizing that this can take time and effort but in the end it will be worth it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Understanding vs Excusing Behaviors in Relationships and Conflicts

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 @ 2:00 PM

I've worked in the field of Mental Health Counseling for over eleven years. Do you mind if I share a little of what I've learned regarding how we handle conflicts?

All too often when interacting with others we may be quick to judge a behavior, or on the other end of the extreme, we may be quick to excuse it away. Both can be equally destructive responses to those with whom we come in contact with. We often land on either of these extremes based on our own emotional overload, unresolved issues, negative thinking, or cognitive distortions. This is why its dangerous to react to another's behavior before examining our own emotions, thoughts and potential biases about what's happening.

Admittedly, there are exceptions to this rule. One determining factor that I like to use is, Safety. Safety includes protecting oneself or others from life threatening circumstances. In these instances, we would be remised not to take swift actions, quickly judging a behavior, in order to react in a way that keeps us safe.

Of course in this day and age we must be careful when using safety to make this distinction. There are currently to many cases where this determiner has been used as well as misused by powerful external forces to exact broad over reaching control on, and over, large masses and populations of people. This has been done with the claims to be in the best interest of public health and safety while stealing and ridding individuals of their inalienable rights. The former would be referring to a macro misuse of how such forces have dealt with and approached what has been deemed as life threatening, dangerous or risky behaviors. For the sake of this article, I am referring to individuals who are affected on a micro level as in interpersonal relationships.

For us as individuals, (outside of safety concerns) before we can either judge or excuse a behavior we must seek to understand it. Once we have done an thorough assessment (both long-term self work as well as briefly in the moment) of our own internal world, we then will stand in a powerful position to seek to understand another's corresponding behavior.

Before we can understand their behavior we must first acknowledge it, describing it in an objective, calm. rational, balanced way. We may only embark on this endeavor once we have properly addressed our own emotions, thoughts and biases using our EQ Skills. By unemotionally observing, accurately describing and properly labeling what actions we see, we help defuse the emotional charge that is often misappropriated towards said behaviors.

Ultimately, its not about their behavior but our reaction to them that prevents this required, needed process. Unfortunately, we may miss our chance to objectively observe and describe, when we overcloud and over look their behaviors with our own gross over reactions which prevent it. When we aren't Emotionally Intelligent we deny the other party, as well as ourselves, the opportunity to learn and grow from these experiences.

It's also important and worth noting that we need to clearly decipher and differentiate between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Seems simple enough, but try explaining the difference between concepts such as "anger" and "aggression," "crying" vs "sadness" or "happiness" vs "laughter." If you ever have or requested others too, you would understand the dilemma. However in order to proceed there can be no ambiguity in the matter. We must be clear that one category represents actions and the other feelings.

Once we accurately describe and label the observable behavior, we then have a few choices. We can either examine it on our own to better understand it. This may involve a type of grope in the dark of the "why's." We also on the other hand could examine it in a way that helps us determine our next steps. Our next steps may be to accept, overlook, ignore it or confront it with the party involved addressing it head on.

It should be noted that "overlooking," is often seen in many of those with "Self Sacrificing Schemas" described in the Other Directness category found in my Schema Therapy Course. It can also be identified in what's known as the Subjugation Schema. Either Schemas may result in deep seated anger, resentment and even health issues. No doubt the result of not confronting, identifying, expressing or addressing personal wants, needs, desires or feelings in emotionally healthy ways.

On the other hand we may choose to present (where safe to do so) our observations to the other party. Here, our decision would be to confront it, giving the other party the chance and opportunity to help us make sense of it. In this step of the process we may want to share (using "I" statements) how the behavior has affected us.

We could then decide if we need to draw a boundary around that behavior in order to stay safe or hold the person accountable. Drawing boundaries however isn't about controlling others. Boundaries are about loving, respecting, and honoring ourselves. Boundaries are about controlling ourselves, our own actions, our movements, and our willingness to receive or ingest what is being offered or submitted towards us, (including our emotions, mental cognitions/processes, energy, time, personal space, bodies, dwelling space, money, possessions or belongings). In fact, we must avoid all attempts at controlling the behaviors of others. We must understand that we only control ourselves. We must hold others accountable to control themselves.

In some instances (where its safe to do so), we can help and assist others in controlling their own behaviors by having open honest effective communications and dialogue as well as putting proper boundaries (in some instances consequences) in place. When doing so we must be absolutely sure to follow through on them.

However, because so many of us avoid, hate confrontation, or worse, its not safe, we often rob others and ourselves of the potential growth and development opportunities that could happen within us supportively challenging their negative behaviors. We also rob ourselves of potential valuable relationship strengthening, building and connection experiences when we work together to resolve impasses. At the very least or even best we may miss an opportunity to untangle and free ourselves, while escaping toxic situations.

Long story short, EQ and the related skills presented in my Emotional Intelligence Course will help and acts as a starting place to accomplish our Interpersonal Relationship Goals. How well or appropriately we are able to respond to the behaviors of others, draw boundaries and practice self care says a lot about our Emotional Intelligence (EQ), self esteem, self worth, personal identity and overall interpersonal effectiveness. If you are interested in learning more about how to successfully learn and practice these skills go to https://linktr.ee/epiphanytanya and click on courses.

Thank you for reading. Send me a message to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing of and seeing your work in this area.