Define Beauty

Define Beauty

How do you define beauty?   When someone asks you what a beautiful woman or handsome man looks like what picture do you conjure in your mind?   For most of us we go with the culture’s definition of beauty.   This is detrimental for most of us because our culture has a very narrow definition and most of us don’t fit in that definition.   Most people compare themselves to others in order to define their worth (but that is a subject for another blog).

Notice how even America’s definition of beauty has changed over the years. Marilyn Monroe would be considered overweight and less desirable by today’s mass-market beauty standards.   Yes things are starting to change in relation to finding women of a larger size attractive. In fact a size 16 model was recently featured on the cover of Sport Illustrated.   That being said it’s important to note how that model was still “attractive” by our society’s definition in many ways.   For instance she lacked cellulite, she has a flat stomach and smooth skin.

For women to push back against society’s definition takes some mental effort. This isn’t just one-time effort either; it’s an ongoing internal dialogue we must have with ourselves.   When we notice a negative internal audiotape that says we are not attractive in some way it’s important to take notice of the thought and re-write it in our mind to a healthier statement.   We must decide we will not be brainwashed by numerous advertisements sporting pictures of what society thinks is a beautiful woman.  Left over from patriarchal times there is still this underlying unspoken message all women receive that says we are not worth as much if we are not beautiful by our culture’s standards.  We must decide that our worth is not based on outward appearances but upon whom we are at the core of our being and who God says we are.

 

Influence of the Father

Influence of the Father

I had the privilege of attending a seminar about the influence of the Father.  The speaker was talking about the influence of our Earthly and Heavenly Father.  The speaker encouraged the attendees to write a list describing our earthly father (i.e. dad); then the speaker asked us to write another list describing our relationship with our heavenly father (i.e. God).  He encouraged us to really take time to think about each and resist the temptation to write what we know others expect to hear from us.

I was amazed at the similarities in my list.  I certainly used different words to describe the relationships of each; however there was a common theme among these lists.  It made me begin to think about how much influence does our relationship with our fathers and men on earth influence our perception of God.

If our earthly father tended to be gentle, caring and loving, are we more readily able to accept and believe in God’s gift of love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace?

If our earthly father tended to be critical, harsh, and strict, do we see God as our accuser ready to send us to Hell?

If our earthly father is absent, do we readily believe God loves us and will never leave us?

Much of the literature will say that our relationships and attachment with our parental figures does impact our sense of self and relationships with others so it doesn’t seem like a large leap that it would also influence our relationship with The Father, Our God.

My hope and belief is that if we have a negative perception of God and can change our perception of God, this would significantly impact all our other relationships, including our relationship with our self.  I would encourage you to create the same list as I created at the seminar; notice if there are any themes. Then search the Bible to find evidence of how God truly is.  Write those verses down and use them as a daily reminder.

6 Common Myths About Counselors

8 Common Myths about Counselors

Over the past 13 years I have encountered some interesting myths about counselors.  When I meet people in a social setting I am often reluctant to tell them what I do for a living.  Of course just like a medical doctor I get some strange questions from people I meet.   In this blog I thought I’d clear up some common myths I have encountered about counselors.   These are common myths I have heard and here’s my take on them.

  1. “Counselors know ‘mind tricks’ and they use them to help people.”  We are trained professionals.   We don’t “trick” people or read their minds.   We do become very good at reading emotions and we understand human behavior.  Our most valuable skill lies in our ability to connect with others on a deep level.  On a level that is also safe so that the client feels safe enough to explore the really hard parts of themselves.
  1. “Counselors must be strange to actually enjoy listening to people’s pain all day long.”  Well we are a different type of person.  When people are hurting counselors don’t run away, we lean in.  Not due to some sick fascination but because we know healing can take place when someone can walk through the painful places with you.   Most of us are naturally curious about people and human nature which is helpful in this line of work.
  2. “Counselors make lots of money.”  Let me tell you most therapists don’t start making a decent living until they are at this at least 5 years into the field and even then we don’t get paid near what our counterparts with similar level of education get paid.  If we wanted to be well paid this is definitely not the field we would have chosen.  Funny story: My husband and I were both in the Master’s of Counseling program together many years ago when my husband realized how little money therapists make.  He essentially told me “Hey one of us needs to make real money if we’re going to have kids one day.  So I’m going to change careers so we aren’t broke for the rest of our lives.”
  3. “You only care because I pay you.”  No one can pay me to care!   You can pay me to listen to you but not to care.  If I didn’t genuinely care about helping others then why would I have chosen this as my career? Remember, it’s not for the money!
  4. “Counselors must get tired of listening to people’s problems.”  Some counselors do get “burned out” but burnout usually occurs due to working too many hours, having too much paperwork (we generally hate paperwork) and not doing enough self-care.   Most of us do not get tired of counseling others.   The only time counseling is frustrating is when a client that is emotionally stuck and no matter what we say or do the client is not ready to do the work of counseling and they are miserable.   That is a hard place for the client and therapist.   It can be hard to witness and to stay present with that client but that’s our job.   It can be trying phase in the counseling process but that phase doesn’t last forever.   While we may have that one client that is “stuck,” in all likelihood most of our other clients are making great strides.   I actually get energized from my work with others.   Seeing a client grow and change emotionally and behaviorally is exhilarating!   Being witness to someone overcoming hardships and pain is a huge privilege!   Assisting a client to work through something so difficult, that for others may cause a total mental collapse, is awe-inspiring!
  5. “Counselors diagnose or analyze everyone they come into contact with.”   I run into this one in social settings quite often.   When I meet new people, I’m just like everyone else.   If I’m not at work, I’m not working to analyze you!   Frankly, I have better ways to spend my free time.   Of course if you have a serious mental illness I’m going to pick up on that, but I’m not working to find it.   If you have major issues that you aren’t working on, I will pick up on that too but once again I’m not trying to find them.   If I meet people in a social setting, I’m just trying to be social and make friends like everyone else.   I’ve actually encountered people that were scared to talk to me after I tell them what I do!   As a result, I’ve been tempted to lie about my profession.   Then, I decided if people are scared to talk to me after they learn what I do then I figure they got serious drama in their lives and I don’t need them in mine until they work on themselves.   Besides, I am proud of my profession and wish more people were open to improving themselves via counseling.

 

If you have any questions about counselors that you’ve wondered about, feel free to comment below and I’d be happy to give you my thoughts!

 

Other People’s Expectations

Other People's Expectations

Are you letting other people’s expectations control you?  Take some time and reflect on your life.  What is the source behind the motivation of your next big purchase?  What inspired your new goal?  Are you making a decision today because it is to satisfy some internal longing or to do what others expect of you?

There is a story told about a fisherman who started a fish market; his store sign read, FRESH FISH SOLD HERE DAILY.  The neighbor thought that the sign was too wordy and said to him, “We know you are going to sell fresh fish.  You aren’t going to sell stale fish, are you?  Why not remove the word FRESH?”

The next day, the sign read, FISH SOLD HERE DAILY.  The fisherman’s friend passed by and said, “Of course you are selling fish, and we know where you are selling them, so take away the words SOLD and HERE.

The next day, the sign read FISH DAILY.  The fisherman’s brother came home from college and said, “The sign is confusing.  Everybody knows you are selling fish every day.  Remove the word DAILY.”

The next day the sign read FISH.  A passerby read the sign and he thought, “Fish?  Fish what?  Fish where?”

When you are living up to other people’s expectations, you will find yourself just like the fisherman, spinning in circles and trying to please everyone.  This road only leads to frustration, disappointment, and exhaustion.  Stop hurting and betraying yourself!

I truly believe that when we constantly try to meet other people’s expectations, we lack identity and feel inferior to others.  We should not be willing to betray our self in order to obtain others’ approval and acceptance.  There is nothing wrong with asking people their opinions, but at the end of the day that is all it is — their opinion!

Everyone is a unique person who God has placed on this earth to accomplish a great purpose. We are not meant to do what others expect of us but what God expects and has purposed for our life.

Take time to get to know yourself and what God’s purpose is for you.  When making that next decision, ask yourself whose voice is it that is motivating you —  mom, dad, spouse, friend, family, boss — or is it the voice of God?

Be confident and know who you are in God because a sure fire way to live a regretful life is to spend your life meeting other people’s expectations.

YOU Have To Love Yourself

YouGottaLoveYourselfThe fact that someone else loves you doesn’t rescue you from the project of loving yourself. – Sahaj Kohli

Such a powerful reminder that no matter who you invite into your life, no matter how much their love soothes the pains of the past, you still have to make it a priority to love yourself.

Take time out today and everyday moving forward to love yourself…

  1. Forgive yourself.
  2. Be patient with yourself.
  3. Do what honors yourself.
  4. Accept yourself and your quirks.
  5. Educate yourself.
  6. Ensure you are engaging in activities that respect yourself.
  7. And have fun doing things all by yourself!

 

Let’s challenge ourselves to not get too caught up in the romance of love and then stop pouring into ourselves.

Mean Girl

MeanGirlI was so intrigued when I heard the term coined “Inner Mean Girl”.  There has been a lot of conversation (and rightfully so) about bullies on the “playground”, but as women we can be the biggest bully and the meanest to ourselves.  We are often comparing ourselves to the woman next door, over-critical about our looks/weight, and striving for unrealistic expectations at work and home.  Toxic and negative thoughts result in us judging ourselves and feeling like we do not meet the bar or that we are not good enough.  Our Inner Mean Girl sabotages our efforts for happiness.  If you find you are constantly battling your Inner Mean Girl and it has interrupted your journey to your dreams, contact us!  We can help shut her down.