GROW Counseling is a group of professionals dedicated to helping clients of all ages find balance, growth, and health. Individuals, couples, families, and groups are seen at three locations throughout the city for concerns such as grief, depression, anxiety, relationships, addictions, eating disorders, stress management, parenting, and career transition.
Larry Dossey, a physician coined the term “time sickness” in 1982 to describe the belief that time is getting away, we don’t have enough of it, and that we must push harder and harder to keep up. By this definition, most of us are “sick” all the time. But this isn’t new to you, by now, I’m sure most people have heard the damage long-term stress and exhaustion inflicts on our bodies. Some symptoms include: pain, heart disease, digestive problems, sleep disturbances, depression, obesity, autoimmune diseases, and skin conditions such as eczema to name a few.
Not only does stress negatively affect our bodies, but it also affects our relationships. Dr. James Dobson said, “Overcommitment and exhaustion are the most insidious and pervasive marriage killers you will ever encounter as a couple.” Usually we are too tired or too preoccupied that we cannot fully engage with the people we love most. They get what’s leftover after we’ve given others our full energy.
Have you ever met anyone that wore his or her busyness as a badge of honor? The folks who don’t have time to answer the phone, and if they do, give you a list of all they have to do? Perhaps the person is you. The primary gain of being busy seems to be productivity (which aids a person’s feeling of worth). But just under the surface, the secondary gain of busyness also may keep us from reflecting on the deeper issues of our lives: the conversations we need to have, the thoughts, feelings, and even people we dread, or even addictions (food, pornography, gambling, shopping, etc) that we need to address.
If this sounds like you, and you are ready to take steps to take back your time, here are a few ideas:
Quit serving leftovers. It’s always sad when we realize that we’re giving the people we love most our leftover energy, attention, and time. Consider setting aside specific time for your spouse, kids, and friends and leaving your blackberry or computer off or somewhere else.
Examine your secondary gains. Do you feel like you’re only as good as your “productivity?” When you examine yourself more closely, are there unresolved issues, conversations, people, and/or addictions you are avoiding? Consider counseling as an option for exploring and healing.
Learn to say no gracefully. Surgeon Berne Siegel said, “People who neglect their own needs are the ones who are most likely to become ill. For them, the main problem is learning to say “no” without feeling guilty.” Make a list of your commitments and examine them carefully. Is there anything you can let go of or you’d like to say “no” to? Discuss the list with a trusted friend or family member. Perhaps he or she can help provide a different perspective and help you prioritize the parts of your life you are not willing to compromise- your family and health.
Article modified and abridged from “Busyness: The Archenemy of Every Life” by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott
As the summer heats up, make sure you keep things cool in your relationship.
Here are 10 rules to live by for a happy relationship…
1. I will communicate my expectations and not take it for granted that my significant other understands what I need or want.
2. I will verify my assumptions so that I have accurate information and feedback.
3. I will strive toward understanding my significant other’s feelings and thoughts on a matter first, without criticism, before attempting to resist and fight or even negotiate and compromise.
4. I will focus on resolving the issues and not attempt to make my significant other or our relationship the problem.
5. I will give myself and my significant other permission to take a “time-out” from the discussion when it’s requested or needed, as long as I give a specific time frame when we will resume problem solving.
6. I will take ownership of, and be completely accountable for my own feelings, thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors first, without shifting blame toward my significant other.
7. I will not attempt to control my significant other with sarcasm, rage, threats, manipulation, shame, jealousy, or silence.
8. I will be responsive and not reactive when discussing issues or receiving feedback about my behavior from my significant other.
9. I will actively seek the forgiveness of my significant other when I am aware of any wrongdoing on my part, and I will extend forgiveness when it’s asked for.
10. I will have a passionate relationship, one comprised of emotional and physical intimacy.
*ADAPTED FROM “WELL DONE: THE RULES FOR CREATING A WIN-WIN PROCESS IN MARRIAGE” BY ERIC SCALISE
Unfortunately, sexual harassment is very common among teens. Even if your teen is not being harassed or harassing others, they play a role in what goes on around them. What role do you want them to play?
Here are some tips for navigating discussions with your kids about sexual harassment:
Define the behavior. It is hard for kids to recognize something as sexual harassment if they do not know what it is. It is helpful to give your kids an opportunity to define and recognize behaviors that are degrading or inappropriate.
Teach your kids to be mindful of what they view. Teens are constant social media consumers. What they see on TV or social media is normalized for them. It is healthy for kids to be critical of what they are viewing. One way you can teach your kids to question what they see is to engage in discussions about what they see. Ask them if they think what others are saying or posting is demeaning or unkind.
Role-play in a safe environment. This can be a great way for kids to think about and practice what they would like to say or do in response to sexual harassment of themselves or others. Many teens and adults stay silent when faced with sexual harassment. Model what it looks like to address sexual harassment when you see it.
Help them understand the consequences. Degrading comments or actions can have lasting impact on the way a person views themselves.
It is important that your teen takes sexual harassment seriously. Encourage them to be allies to those subjected to harassment, and to lead with kindness and understanding.
This is a phrase I hear frequently in my office, from people with all kinds of backgrounds and stories. People who have experienced neglect or abuse over the course of their entire lives, individuals who have high pressure jobs such as first-responders or military, or who have experienced natural disasters or survived terrible accidents.
Despite the amount of pain, suffering, or trauma experienced, many individuals are quick to dismiss or minimize their pain. This belief begins to form: other people deserve help and healing because they went through something truly difficult. However, when we look at our own stories, oftentimes the seriousness or the trauma has become our normal. What looks traumatic objectively was just an average Tuesday in our household, and so we shrug it off. It wasn’t that bad.
A side effect of trauma is often believing you are unworthy of care, help or healing. When we begin to compare pain, we dishonor our experiences. We deny the truth of our own story, and we stay stuck. We hold onto our pain as we minimize it, robbing ourselves of the chance to truly move forward.
Comparison makes us choose one or the other, black or white, instead of recognizing there is room for both experiences to be true. I am hurting, and so are they. This experience is difficult for me, as their experience is difficult for them. It could have been worse, and what happened to me was traumatic and hurtful. Others deserve a safe place to heal and process, and so do I.
We are often more kind to other people in their experiences than we are to ourselves. When you notice yourself comparing pain, or dismissing your own experiences, ask yourself how you would respond to a loved one if they shared this experience with you. Would you tell them it is unimportant and dismiss them, or would you believe they are worthy of care and healing? I encourage you to notice the places in your life where you need to give yourself permission to heal, and meet them with kindness. You are worthy of help. You deserve to heal.
“Burnout has been described as the biggest occupational hazard of the twenty-first century,” writes Paula Davis-Laack.
Merriam-Webster defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Burnout could be related specifically to work, or the combination of work and personal life stressors.
The term was first coined in the field of psychology in the 70’s, in relation specifically to helping professions. Today, this word has been expanded to include other careers. Depression and burnout are often confused and look similar; however, burnout typically tends to be associated with work.
Burnout can impact those that work in mainstream jobs,
ministry jobs and helping professions. None of us are immune.
As I was reviewing Psychology Today articles online, I found the work of Paula Davis-Laack. On her website, Paula shares her own story of working as a lawyer and experiencing burnout herself. She works now to provide education and training to professionals related to burnout and stress. In one article online, she describes 9 different warning signs of burnout for us to be mindful of.
In our next blog, we will continue our discussion with a few ways to do a self-assessment, and recognize our own proactive choices to help decrease risk of full burnout.
Have you ever experienced a hurt, betrayal or major disappointment by your partner? Do you still feel the hurt although the incident may have happened months or years ago? If so, you may have experienced an attachment injury to the bond that you and your partner share. When this happens, relationship distress is predictable.
Over the course of any relationship, partners will make mistakes, hurt or disappoint their loved one. The bigger problem is how couples typically react to these unfortunate circumstances. These reactions may include “sweeping it under the rug,” therefore moving past the incident too quickly, or even minimizing and denying the impact of the hurt. It is nearly impossible to heal these past hurts without talking about them.
These guided conversation steps can help you and your partner heal past hurts in your relationship:
Articulate your hurt to your partner.
Communicate deeper attachment fears about the impact of your hurt. For example, did you feel abandoned? Rejected? Alone?
The offending partner understands the significance of the incident and acknowledges your hurt.
The offending partner softens, takes ownership of their role and engages with empathy, remorse and regret.
The hurt partner can now ask for reparative care and comfort.
The offending partner can now respond in an emotionally corrective way which is effective in healing a past hurt.
Although some attachment injuries can be worked through by couples on their own, many can be complicated to process. Reaching out to a mental health professional can help provide a safe space to heal the past hurt in your relationship.
Instant gratification is common in our society today. We can have our shopping delivered right to our door the same day we ordered it; we can watch tv shows instantly and without commercials, and we have emails and notifications delivered to our watches so we can have the responses instantaneously. We live on a twenty-four hour news cycle- both corporately, and within our personal social media feeds.
So it makes sense to me that when a client walks in the office, there can be a desire for immediate results. We want the pain, anxiety or depression to be gone instantly; for the relationship to turn around by the time we walk out of the office; for the years of abuse to be erased and forgotten. We tell ourselves to hurry up and heal faster, to learn the lessons at the speed of light so we can move on with our lives. All of this makes sense. Pain is…well, painful, and it can be hard to give ourselves the grace and time we need in order to heal.
Healing is more like gardening than being in the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant. When you plant a seed, do you come back an hour later expecting to see a blooming flower? No, of course not.
In growing a flower, we understand that it takes time for the seed to take root, and that it needs sunshine, water, and good soil in order to thrive, grow, and eventually bloom. We don’t yell at, shame, or nag the seed…we give it space, and show up to take care of it.
I say this phrase to my clients often: the slower you go, the faster you get there. When you take the time to invest in your healing, and participate in the process of growth, things change. When we try to skim through the work as fast as possible, we will often find ourselves going in circles, addressing the same problems time and time again.
What would it look like to be patient and present in your own healing? Maybe it looks like practicing deep breathing exercises to calm your anxiety, or practicing naming your emotions as they arise. Whatever it looks like, remember you are planting a seed of change and healing that will grow- if you care for it…and it’s natural that it takes some time.
Often, we hear about the ideas of building trust and restoring trust. Have you ever thought to yourself, “That sounds easy enough, but how does trust work?”
One of the most common videos that I share with clients as we discuss trust in different types of relationships is Brené Brown’s Anatomy of Trust. Trust is like a marble jar; friends that we trust have done thing after thing to fill up our marble jar. Trust is built on small moments in our lives.
“Trust is choosing to make something important to you, vulnerable to the actions of someone else,” writes Charles Feltman. “Distrust is when what I have shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you.”
There is a need to be brave toward vulnerability. Brown coins the term “Braving Connection” as:
For more explanation on each of these terms, the video is truly worth the 20-minute watch!
The thing to examine first is your own marble jar: Do you
trust yourself? Do you believe you are worthy of being trusted?
I challenge you to think about one person in your life and the reasons why you trust them. I think if we can identify these reasons in one person, it will be easier to break down this concept with others.
How can we grow in becoming more trustworthy people?
I get questions like these all the time, “Why is my child doing _____?” Why is my child angry all the time? Why is my child not turning in their homework? Why is my child having tantrums in target? Why does my child lie?” The list goes on and on.
The answer to this question is more than just their behavior. It’s beyond the surface. The way I like to think about it is: a child’s behavior is their way of communicating things such as “help me,” or “I feel out of control,” or “I am overwhelmed,” or “it’s too loud in here.” They don’t yet have the verbal communication skills to tell you why they are doing what they are doing and what they need.
This is the beauty behind play therapy- allowing children to communicate through play and toys- a language they know very well. For play therapy to be most helpful, it’s imperative for parents to have the tools they need to carry this out into their world outside of the playroom.
This blog series on “Steps to Better Understand your Child” will do just that: help parents and caregivers to better understand their child’s world and to discover the answer to the question “why is my child doing____?” Throughout this series, we will be answering the following questions together:
WHO? Looking at who children are from a biological and developmental perspective
WHY? Taking a look into why children do what they do and the potential meaning behind their behavior.
WHAT? Learning practical skills to improve understanding and communication
HOW? Discovering the best way to carry out these skills in the way that YOUR child needs them
WHEN? Understanding the appropriate times to implement these skills
By the end of this series, my hope is that you will start to
see your child’s world through their lens, not just your own.
Day 1… There are few events that cause as many emotions as the first day on a new job. Will you be received into the work culture? Will you be able to perform to your expectations and theirs? Will you adapt quickly enough and pick up the new skills needed?
Whatever your most prominent concern is, being the “new kid on the block” can be cause for excitement and stress. Here are 3 simple ways you can start to manage the stress of starting a new job:
1. Get adequate sleep
According to an article on HelpGuide, most healthy adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation makes it hard to learn and retain new concepts, which in turn, makes it difficult for you to perform at your optimal level.
Exercise releases hormones called endorphins. Endorphins
provide a sense of well-being which can help relieve some of the stress of
starting a new job. Not to mention that exercise is needed to maintain good
physical health which influences mental health and the ability to adapt to new situations.
3. Ask questions
Your new boss expects you to have questions. In fact, they
may be concerned if you don’t ask questions. Take advantage of your status of
being “new” and ask away. Take away the undue pressure of having to figure
everything out on your own. Take this time to learn as much as possible from as
many resources as you can.
Being the “new kid on the block” can be stressful; however, it does not have to be overwhelming. If you find that you are overwhelmed and nothing seems to help bring down your stress level, one of our therapists would be happy to work with you to sort through your thoughts and emotions.