Resolutions!!!

Cheers, 2017 is here. Happy New Year to you all! At the beginning of each new year many of us make resolutions. Mostly, resolutions are geared towards your personal needs and/or preferences.  What is going to improve your current lifestyle, to aid in making you the best you, you could possibly be? Our resolutions are to assist us along this rocky journey of self-improvement.  Many of us dive in full throttle and we do great for the first few weeks but then we tend to not see the results we anticipated or we realize that our resolutions are to restrictive and we give up…. back to what we have become comfortable with.  I would like to suggest, instead of making unrealistic resolutions, sit down and come up with your long-term resolutions and then come up with some short-term resolutions that you can use to measure your long-term goals.  For instance, let’s say your long-term resolution is to lose 20lbs…….”now, you and I both know that you did not gain this 20 extra pounds overnight and we should know that you are not going to lose it in a matter of days”….you want to set measurable short-term goals to aid in reaching your long-term goal….like, I am going to exercise 3 days a week for a minimum of 20-30  minutes, or I am going to decrease my sugar or processed food intake weekly.  Giving up everything all at once, is setting one up for failure.  If you are strong willed and can give it up, then by all means do so. Most of us need to gradually incorporate these changes into our current lifestyles. Once you have reached a short-term millstone, reward yourself. You are on the right track and making progress. Now, by rewards I do not mean go and undo all the hard work you have already done to make it this far….just a small reward for reaching a goal. Continue on this path until you reach your long-term resolutions. The key, don’t give up…baby steps!!!

Wishing you health and prosperity in 2017.

Cultivating Calmness and Stillness

Cultivating calmness and stillness

I’m reading a good book suggested by one of my clients called The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown.

The book’s premise is about how to cultivate Wholeheated Living and in order to cultivate this you must also be cultivating calmness and stillness.  I wanted to briefly speak about this part of her book how a simple decision to incorporate these concepts helped me this week.  But first let me back up a bit and add a bit of context.

This year I am focusing more on being intentional and mindful, theses are my words for the year.  Part of this effort is to throw off our culture’s concept that busyness and exhaustion is good and valuable.  Our culture thinks this way because many of us gain our self-worth from our accomplishments.  I have been working for years to rid myself of this ingrained-from-childhood concept. I have been at work to firmly plant my identify in who God says I am and not what our culture tries to say about me.   I found that attempting to build my identity upon accomplishments or acquisitions felt like shifting sand under my feet; no stability was to be found.  I say that I have been working for years on this because this re-creating and replanting of my identify is not something that can be done just once and it’s accomplished for the rest of my life, it’s an ever-evolving process as I age and face new challenges.  Brown’s book goes right along with many things I have been personally working on.

In one chapter she addresses calmness and stillness.

Brown defines calm as “creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity.” She went on to write that practicing calm means feeling your feelings without reacting to heightened emotions like fear and anger.

I would like to add that I think we can and sometimes should react to fear and anger but the key is not allow our outward actions be dominated by those emotions to the extent that we make rash decisions that hurt ourselves or others.

This is NOT an easy feat in the least!

I have realized in my upbringing I learned a bad habit that went something like this: when bad things happen I should take it seriously and thus my outward reaction should reflect that.  I’m sure you can imagine that way of reacting has not always worked in my favor.  When I became a parent and some crisis was occurring I leaned quickly if I reacted strongly so did my kids, which meant everyone was more freaked out that they needed to be. Medical emergencies could spell traumatic experiences if I did not change how I reacted to bad situations. So I have had to change that!

This week I realized I am doing much better at cultivating calmness in my life.   Here’s a short story for example: Our dog loves to sneak out of the yard and run crazy around the neighborhood whenever she can escape the back yard.   I have never been able to catch her without someone helping me coax her back to the house.   She runs fast and become so hyper she just doesn’t listen to anyone.   This week our dog got out of the yard after a nasty hailstorm dislodged the lock on our fence’s gate.   So as my kids and I were getting ready to leave the house, the kids went go to get in the car and I went to call the dog in from the back yard at our patio door, assuming she was still in the back yard.   My oldest child walks out into our driveway and sees our dog is across the street in the neighbors yard happily smelling the exotic “other yard” scents.  Frantically my oldest child yells “SHE’S ACROSS THE STREET!”  My usual response has been to run and yell the dog’s name, asking for her to come to me.  I knew walking out of the house that this was a crisis, we could lose our beloved dog if she kept running or she could get run over by a car (which almost happened a few months ago) but I also knew in that moment I must change my reaction to this crisis to manage it.   This time I coolly set my purse down, told my kids “stay calm” and I walked out to my drive way, scanned to ensure no cars were coming down the street and patted my knees, calling our dog. Our sweet and crazy mutt picked her head up and ran straight to me!  First time ever!    We were all more than a big shocked that it worked and our little crisis was diverted.

Over many years I have realized that being calm on the outside while still reacting to the crisis at hand gives me more time to make wise decisions.   I can still react to these serious situations without displaying to the world that I don’t care.  I think I initially rejected this reaction because I assumed calm people in a crisis didn’t really care that much.

I must to give credit where credit is due: a large part of my calmness comes from God.   I have an overriding peace from Him that helps me stay calmer in these situations.  I’m not saying I’m perfect at doing this 100% of the time.  If I don’t get enough rest and I’m under too much stress I have been known to revert to my old ways of reacting.  So I know sleep, managing my stress and having daily time with my creator is crucial to having calmness and stillness in my life.

So my question to you is: How can you create more calmness and stillness in your life?  It’s crucial to your health and well-being!

 

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.

 

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!

 

Super Bowl Victims

super bowl victims

Super Bowl is right around the corner!  It is being called the old school (Denver Broncos) versus new school (Carolina Panthers) football matchup.  Super Bowl is the time where most of us spend hours rooting for our favorite team with family and/or friends over food, drinks and TV.    However, not everyone will be celebrating.  Would you believe me if I was to say there are Super Bowl victims?

What a lot of individuals do not know is the dark side of Super Bowl: an increase within the sex industry.  While the football teams draw in large crowds, there are those that are flocking to the trading of women.  The peak of sex trafficking occurs during Super Bowl, where an influx of CHILDREN and women are shipped in for sex trade.  Houses will turn into brothels, there will be pimps and prostitutes readily available, along with $32 BILLION in revenue!

These facts come from an article from The Christian Chronicle in 2011 from the Super Bowl that was held in Dallas, Texas.  I can only image the numbers have increased within the past 5 years.  Numbers are important, nevertheless, the people are more important.  We’re talking about daughters, wives, sisters, aunts, nieces, neighbors, friends… they are all human beings with worth.  A worth that should NOT have a price attached to them, thus they do.

So, I encourage each of us to remember the price of Super Bowl – beyond tailgating in the parking lot before the game, the outrageous price of a ticket in the nose bleed section, the glamorous half-time show and the celebratory aftermath of your team winning – instead, those that may not have a choice or a voice of exiting the crude industry.  If you are looking to make a difference by assisting those in the sex industry escape the demeaning lifestyle, contact your local charities and churches in your city.  For Dallas/Ft. Worth area we have:

World Relief http://worldrelief.org/fortworth/humantrafficking

Children at Risk http://childrenatrisk.org/content/

Human Rights Initiative http://www.hrionline.org/

Mosaic Family Services, Inc. http://mosaicservices.org/

New Friends New Life http://www.newfriendsnewlife.org/

The Friends of Letot http://letotgirlscenter.org/

You Can Free Us http://www.youcanfree.us/

What Is Passed Down To Us. Appreciating Your Parents!

What is Passed Down to Us

Can Your Appreciate Your Parents?

So what did your parents pass down to you? I’m not talking about a family heirloom or a large monetary sum.   I’m talking about what you emotionally inherited; what is passed down to us emotionally?  What talents or gifts do you have that your parents also have or had?  I’ve been doing this amazing Bible study by Beth Moore entitled The Patriarchs; Encountering The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I want to share with you what I gleamed from one particular part of the study.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the concept of “generational sins” or in other words “bad habits” that are passed down from one generation to the next and so on. Of course when you grow up with a parent that has a bad habit, lets say alcoholism or gambling, most of us strive to not turn into an adult with a similar addiction. Often our childhoods leave us with such deep scars and hurts that we say “I never want to be like my father/mother” and we focus on that idea so much that we begin to exclude everything else about that parent. In order to cope most people employ the popular emotional defense mechanism that goes something like this: “I want nothing from you, nothing to do with you and want to be nothing like you.”  We may strive to be better than our parents, but to achieve this, I challenge you to examine this common defense mechanism and grow beyond it.   Beth Moore in The Patriarchs talks about Genesis 26 in which Isaac is repeating some of his father Abraham’s sins.  Due to a famine in the land he had to dig up some of the very same wells that his father had dug because the Philistines had filled them in.  Isaac needed water, his father had already dug the wells, and the enemy had filled them in. Beth Moore asks the reader to apply this philosophically. She states the wells of refreshment that our parents passed down to us can be stopped up with “feelings of unworthiness, distance, disrespect and difference. An adult child stops up a well every time he/she throws out the positive inheritance with the negative.”   Talk about throwing out the baby with the bath water! But don’t we often do that when we employ that common defense mechanism mentioned above? Do YOU want to be boiled down to the sum total of your sins? Meaning that you would only be described by your favorite sin? I know I sure don’t want to be thought of that way! But when we allow the hurt and anger from a parent to invade us to the point that we can see nothing good in them, that’s what we’re doing; we’re seeing them only as their sin or negative qualities. This is what the devil wants, he wants to rob you of positive inheritances from our parents. The devil wins when you allow anger a foothold in our heart that excludes the good qualities of your parent(s).

As Beth Moore wrote to her grown child: “Your parents strongholds do not equal your parents.”

It’s normal to say “I want nothing to do with ______sin or addiction.” But it’s healthy to recognize what our parents were gifted and blessed with, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t flawed people. Have you read the Bible? God uses some pretty flawed people to be his messengers. We can get a more accurate view of ourselves when we recognize the good characteristics of our parents and which ones we inherited from them. Then we can value the positive inheritance instead of defining ourselves and our parents by sins and mistakes made. You are not the sum total of the mistakes you have made and neither are your parents. The whole existence of mankind is made up of a lot of grey areas; don’t let your hurts paint people in broad brush strokes of black and white because it’s a disservice to them and to you!