The Wonder of Steady Growth
I was participating in a course about Insomnia-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-I). This course was not part of continued education designed to equip me help my clients, no, this course was for me. I needed help overcoming insomnia and paid good money for the darn thing. Week after week I learned new tools to apply every day, and the promised land gleaming in the distance was to experience sound and consistent sleep. The journey there consisted of slowly and consistently training my brain and body to have consistent quality sleep. Developing positive sleep thoughts, learning how to wean myself off Unisom, establishing effective bed- and wake-times and using other tools were tremendously helpful – over time. One tool was to get out of bed after an estimated half hour of wakefulness, then staying up doing something relaxing for an estimated half hour (no screens, oh no!) and then go back to bed and try to fall asleep again. Well, I got discouraged, because after a couple of weeks of doing the 30/30 as we called it, I didn’t see much tangible progress. My trainer chuckled in our zoom call and patiently explained that these tools work in conjunction with each other, and they produce results over time. In the mean-time, he reminded me, I just had to calm down and trust the process. After all, how long had I struggled with insomnia? Did I really expect change to happen – well – overnight? I was just a little offended, or maybe embarrassed – I mean, I am a therapist, for goodness’ sake. But I finally got the point.
I decided to stop worrying about what happened during one specific night and instead entrust myself to the process. I trotted on. Slowly, I began to notice small changes. I wasn’t as anxious about going to bed. I didn’t get bent out of shape if I woke up in the middle of the night and had a hard time going back to sleep. I used my 3 am time for prayer and meditation, and actually came to enjoy this time -well, kind of! I had some good weeks and some not so good weeks, but after a while, my average hours of sleep began to consistently increase, and my whole attitude and mindset about sleep had changed. Four months later, my new normal is around 6 ½ to 7 hours of sleep pretty consistently. It is amazing to not have to drag myself through the day.
Often, we think that change should happen quickly. After all, we have decided to work through old pain, apply healthy boundaries and stop taking everything personally. But the following day we still seem stuck in old patterns. We still struggle a week later. “This counseling thing isn’t working!” Or, “I am doomed to failure!” Nope. All you have to do is to trust your heart and brain’s incredible ability to grow and change. I see this happen every day, but it doesn’t happen in a day. Look at nature. We can sow seeds in a vegetable garden one day. The next day, nothing has happened. No sign of any life. Nothing the following day either. Or the next. Two-three weeks later something happens. A little sprout has popped out of the ground, so insignificant looking, we almost miss it. But then it grows and produces.
Are you going through a process of change and growth? Get some help, develop a plan, follow it, add knowledge and insight to it, and you will see the wonderous result of steady growth and lasting transformation.
In these challenging times….
Everyone is affected by social distancing, quarantines, job losses and school shut-downs. The list goes on and on. It seems like most counselors are offering teletherapy these days, and I do too! Don’t let the social distancing keep you from getting the help you need! While taking every precaution, I am also open for in office sessions.
We are social creatures. I don’t know about you, but I am extravert enough that this distancing is difficult! What can we do? It is vitally important for all of us to stay in touch with friends and family members via FaceTime, Skype or other media. I miss my grandchildren a lot these days, but it does help to at least see them and talk to them via FaceTime. Remember, we are social creatures, and we need connection to stay emotionally healthy. Get some help if you struggle with fear and anxiety; these actually make people more susceptible to disease and these are not fun to deal with!
Here are some preventive measures to take to avoid getting the COVID-19 virus:
Some doctors I follow who have successfully treated viruses for 30 years including the Coronavirus say the following: Take magnesium chloride (I get it in lotion form from the health store), selenium, iodine, and vitamins including D3. Additionally, the good old baking soda is fabulous! Baking soda is actually a heavy weight horse when it comes to healing many sicknesses and diseases. It is used in emergency rooms and saves lives every day! (Do a search on it and see for yourself. I highly recommend Dr. Sircus’ articles.) Dosage recommendation is 1/4 teaspoon in water every day as preventive use. It also helps to heal a person already infected. Another factor is to ensure proper oxygen to the cells, which has to do with making sure we breathe deeply. Since many people breathe in shallow ways (just from the chest), doctors recommend spending 10-15 minutes every day belly-breathing. This can lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, and also provide enough oxygen to the cells. I also take Cordycept capsules daily, which are an amazing anti-viral, anti-bacterial agent. Many recommend colloidal silver or structured silver. The latter can also be bought in gel form as an amazing hand sanitizer that has no alcohol and doesn’t dry out your hands.
The rest you know: frequent hand washing, avoid touching your face, disinfect and sanitize surfaces, door handles etc. Social distancing is recommended during this time. Keep your diet nutritious, make sure you get enough sleep, and engage in some daily exercise!
As a believer, I look to God and his Word during this time. Psalm 91 is wonderful to declare over yourself and your loved ones. God’s love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) and in his love is a good place to be!
Why Does Deep Breathing Alleviate Anxiety?
Question: Why do deep breathing exercises help anxiety?
Answer: Anxiety often is accompanied by shallow, fast breathing, which in turn activates the sympathetic nervous system and makes anxiety worse. The body sends “danger signals” to the amygdala, which I like to refer to as the part of the brain that pushes the fire alarm button. When the alarm goes off, the brain enters into the fight, flight, or freeze mode. This survival mode helps us when we are in danger, but is not helpful when we are not!
Deep breathing, on the other hand, sends messages to the brain that stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that takes over when the body is at rest. Anxiety often “sits in the body,” (just notice your churning stomach or tight chest!), and breathing is a body function we actually have some control over. As we slow down our breathing, messages are sent to the amygdala, and the fire alarm is turned off. Breathing signals to parts of the brain that affect our behavior, thought, and emotion.
To ensure deep breathing, place a hand over your stomach. You may pretend there is a balloon in your stomach inflating and deflating as you breathe in and out. Breathe in through your nose, and breathe slowly out through your mouth. Try to notice the sensation in your stomach as you breathe. Many enjoy the 4-7-8 method: breathe in on four counts, hold for seven, and breathe out for eight. This is repeated four times, twice a day, and consistent use can help to reset the nervous system.
As a counselor, I believe it is important to become curious about the underlying issues of anxiety. A good therapist can help!
Cecilie Croissant, MA, LPC, is owner and therapist at Path of Hope Counseling in Owasso, (pathofhopecounseling.com) and helps people overcome anxiety through EMDR and other modalities.
God’s Design Laws Part 2
What are design laws?
Design laws are principles that God, our Creator, wove into the very fabric of reality. God created – and “it was good.” He designed everything to operate according to laws promoting healing, growth, fulfillment and peace. God is love, and nature is a beautiful reflection of his extravagance. God is a Giver, and when nature operates according to God’s design, it flourishes through giving. The water cycle is a good example. The ocean “gives” water through evaporation producing clouds, and the clouds give water that create rivers, which again pour water into the ocean. On the other hand, viruses is a biological form of selfishness. It doesn’t give anything and only takes for itself. White blood cells, on the other hand, operate on the principle of love by sacrificing themselves in order to save us.
When people act in selfish ways and become demanding takers, they will eventually tear down relationships. When we prefer one another in love, relationships grow and blossom. This is how God designed things to work!
Design laws are part of a universal reality, just like the law of gravity. Whether I believe in the law of gravity or not, it will work for me! Defying design laws will eventually result in destructive consequences. God’s design laws have predictable results: when we conform to them and respect them, they lead to life and success; when we defy them, we tear our world down with our own hands. As a reflection of God’s nature, design laws reveal God’s incredibly loving intention for us. As we gain understanding of these principles, embrace them and learn to yield to them, our lives will prosper.
In part 1 we discussed the Law of Love and the Law of Liberty. Here are two more:
The Law of Worship
We are created to worship. Everyone will worship something. One writer says it this way: “A person’s deity is that which actually dominates that person’s life, giving it unity, direction, and inspiration, whether the person realizes it or not” (Creel, 1977). What do you worship? What gives your life its main direction and inspiration? What really makes us tick? Whatever we worship will form and shape our lives. Our minds will adapt themselves to the things we idealize. What we keep admiring we become like. This is exactly what Paul says in 2 Cor.3:18 – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed in the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Why does God ask us to worship Him? He does so because He is the only one we can worship that will not cause our mind and character to degenerate. As humans, we are the highest created beings on our planet. There is nothing here in this world that is worthy of our worship, and giving our affection and admiration to anything else but God will lower our existence to its own level. When people worship cruel and harsh gods, they create oppressive systems. We see this exemplified in cults, or in major religions. One sect of Hinduism worships the rat. Their temples are infested with rats, and people consider it an honor to be bitten by a rat. They want to be reincarnated as a rat. Here are human beings created in God’s image to have authority in the earth, and now their highest goal is to become a rat!
Neuro-scientifically, we become like what we admire or worship. Whatever we idealize, whether it be a person, God, idea, or idol, we are changed into what we give our attention and affection to. The brain will actually rewire itself according to our thoughts and what we give our attention to. Our choices as well as our behavior, what we worship and admire, have profound effect on the development of our neural pathways and networks. This eventually changes our character. Here is a simple illustration: As a Norwegian, English was a second language for me. It took several years in school to get a good grasp on the English language. Then, as a 23 year old, I came to the United States. It took me a year or two to continue learning all the nuances in the language, colloquialisms, humor etc. I have lived in the United States for many years now, and my “English” neural networks have grown to where I actually struggle a little when I visit Norway and switch to speaking Norwegian. The brain constantly changes to adapt. We actually change the hardwiring in our brains through what we think about. This works both negatively and positively. The choice of whom or what we worship greatly influences the development of our mental faculties. Healthy worship creates noble and strong reasoning faculties, while unhealthy forms of worship shrinks and weakens them.
As human beings, we can choose to yield to God’s truth, which is reality, or we can choose to set up something else as our god. One way or another, we will worship something, and thereby be conformed into the image of the object we worship. When you as a believer set your heart on God’s truth, over time your neural circuitry will change, and old neural networks that correspond to negative behavior will degrade, while neural networks that respond to the truth will develop and grow.
The Law of Responsibility
God made us to think for ourselves, reason, evaluate, plan, and make choices. This is part of the Law of Liberty. When we seek to control others are not operating within God’s laws of love and liberty. Sometimes people’s attempts to control others are subtle. Here is a scenario: You can’t stand the anxiety you feel when your spouse gets into one of their moods, so you do whatever you can to please them to keep them happy. You may even agree to do something that you really don’t want to do. So instead of setting proper boundaries with your spouse and take responsibility for your own anxiety, you allow boundaries to be crossed in your own life and you are actually attempting to control your spouse. This behavior never yields positive results! Having healthy boundaries means that we take responsibility for our own feelings as well as set proper boundaries with other people. It is not your job to make other people happy at all cost in order to feel less anxious in the moment. You will have to do that one again and again…… and again. This will only increase anxiety, create resentment on both sides, while nothing is really dealt with and healed. Seek help from a good counselor, do what you need to do to manage your anxiety, and learn how to have proper boundaries with others.
Do you have a tendency to be dependent? Can you make your own decisions? Can you have an opinion when someone asks you? Are you aware of what your values and priorities are? Do you have a sense of autonomy if you are married or in a romantic relationship?
You may have grown up with parents who seemed to make all the choices for you, even when you were old enough to make your own. This may have sent the message: “you cannot trust yourself” or “you are not capable.” If this was the case, you may find yourself always looking to others for decision making in your behalf. It is time to break out and courageously start the journey of discovering your own priorities, values and preferences. Some who grew up as “Mom’s golden boy” or “Daddy’s little princess” were made to believe that they could do no wrong, so they end up becoming annoyingly self-centered. Lacking self-awareness, they tend to expect special treatment and blame others for everything that goes wrong in their lives.
Taking responsibility for your life is one of the most empowering things you can do. It puts the power back where it should be: in your hands! Regardless of your background and past failures, you can take one step at a time towards a better future. Choose to believe that you can get that degree, start over in a new, healthier relationship, trust God to work in you to move forward. He will, because he always operates within his own wisdom.
Cecilie Croissant is licensed professional counselor and a certified EMDR therapist in private practice in Owasso, Oklahoma. She is speaker in conferences around the world and was awarded an honorary doctorate for her many years of teaching and music ministry in over 30 nations.
God’s Design Laws Part 1
What are design laws?
Design laws are principles that God, our Creator, wove into the very fabric of reality. God created – and “it was good.” He designed everything to operate according to laws promoting healing, growth, fulfillment and peace. God is love, and nature is a beautiful reflection of his extravagance. When nature operates according to God’s design, it flourishes through giving. The water cycle is a good example. The ocean “gives” water through evaporation producing clouds, and the clouds give water that create rivers, which again pour water into the ocean. On the other hand, viruses is a biological form of selfishness. It doesn’t give anything and only takes for itself. White blood cells, on the other hand, operate on the principle of love by sacrificing themselves in order to save us.
When people act in selfish ways and become demanding takers, they will tend to destroy relationships. When we serve one another in love, relationships grow and blossom. This is how God designed things to work!
God’s sovereignty is not that he decides everything that happens on this earth. That would violate his own law of liberty (described below). Rather, he is sovereign by putting laws in place that promote life, success, and fulfillment. Design laws are part of a universal reality, just like the law of gravity. Whether I believe in the law of gravity or not, it will work for me! Defying design laws will eventually result in destructive consequences. God’s design laws have predictable results: when we conform to them and respect them, they lead to life and success; when we defy them, we tear our world down with our own hands. As a reflection of God’s nature, design laws reveal God’s incredibly loving intention for us. As we gain understanding of these principles, embrace them and learn to yield to them, our lives will prosper.
The Law of Love
God always operates in healing, uplifting, and selfless ways. Love means to do what is good regardless of how one feels. When we give to others we prosper. When we stop loving and giving, we deteriorate. The pool of water that stops flowing soon stagnates, while a flowing river breeds life.
Are negative things that happen in our lives the result of God’s punishment? Absolutely not! This belief goes against every evidence in nature, science, history, and Biblical truth. God’s love is pure and free from any form of agenda or force.
When negative things happen in our lives, we may feel grief, anxiety, depression, or a low sense of worth. These feelings are not evidence of God’s punishment or a sign that he has left us. They may be a result of how we or others have operated contrary to his design laws. But even in the middle of tragedies, God’s desire is to restore. The reason Jesus died for us was to deliver us out of a life of destruction and fear and restore us to love and dignity. Then, he gave us the Holy Spirit to live inside of us and his word to show us how to live in his purpose and design.
Love has counterfeits. Some people believe they love when they control others. A young woman sought counseling services whose boyfriend had threatened to kill himself if she left him. The boyfriend showed clear signs of unhealthy dependency and lowered himself to try to control instead of owning his own deep insecurities. Dependency happens when someone looks to another as the source of inner peace, security, well-being, or self-worth. God did not create us to be for another person that which he alone can be for us. A dependent person will have strong feelings for another, but he will often be erratic and unstable. Dependent individuals may sulk and act in very immature ways, which obviously destroys relationships. Because we were never created to be dominated by another person, this behavior will only result in resistance and a desire to leave. Love will die. This will often make the dependent person even more desperate to control. This kind of relationship goes south very fast! The dependent person’s need for further external validation is now even greater. I compare a person like this with a leaking bucket. No amount of validation and assurance will ever be enough. They take and take and continue to demand, but no attempt to assure them will fill the void.
Timothy Jennings says it this way: “Love heals, while dependency destroys. Love liberates, while dependency always seeks to control. Love gives, while dependency constantly takes. Love is fearless, while dependency is fear-ridden. Love is interested in another, while dependency focuses on self. Love is stable, while dependency wavers. Love is orderly and reliable, while dependency is chaotic and unreliable. Love is based on principle, while dependency is based on feelings. Love is consistent, while dependency is inconsistent. Love is honest and truthful, while dependency is dishonest and deceitful. Love is patient, while dependency is impulsive. Love is kind, while dependency is cruel. Love is forgiving, while dependency is resentful. Love protects, while dependency exploits. Love sacrifices self, while dependency sacrifices others. Love never ends, while dependency never lasts. And love never fails, while dependency never succeeds.” (2012)
The Law of Liberty
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor.3:17). God created us to be free and be able to respond to him out of a desire to know him. God never forces himself on us, and in order for our love for him to be authentic and real, it has to be free. He always works by bringing truth, love, and freedom. Then he gives us opportunity to evaluate and decide for ourselves if we want to trust him. Love requires freedom.
I speak with many who have lived with an abusive or controlling spouse. While under their spouse’s control, they were told what to wear, what they were allowed or not allowed to do. When someone is forced to respond, or repeatedly belittled and degraded, the result is disastrous. Spouses who are treated this way end up angry, resentful, and depressed. Human beings were never created to be dominated by each other, because not only does the violation of freedom destroy love, it leads to rebellion. If rebellion doesn’t restore freedom, individuality itself disappears and only empty shells of people remain. A person will lose the ability to think for herself, because all thoughts will be focused on trying to please the abuser and how to keep him from erupting. They are left in a perpetual state of fear, with no opinions, no choices, no opportunity to think for themselves. Often people believe that they are required by God or the church to stay in abusive marriages. But God never requires this! He always works to restore us and make us whole, therefore he wants us to separate from that which will destroy us. When staying in a marriage means being so controlled that it erases one’s individuality, then our responsibility is to get out! Some Christian men wrongly believe that their wives are to submit to them no matter what. This is unbiblical, and will result in the destruction of what God meant for both husbands and wives to be. For a wife to separate herself from abuse is the only way she can to be restored herself, and the only chance her husband has to wake up to the error of his ways. God’s way in marriage is for husbands to build up the individuality of his wife and support her in pursuing God’s purpose for her life.
Sometimes the violation of the law of liberty is not as obvious. One parent creates fear in her family by her frequent outbursts of anger or rage,and the rest of the family “walks on eggshells” in order to avoid setting her off. Relationships don’t function well under fear and intimidation. Spouses may withdraw or bury themselves in work, and children may leave the home early to escape the unhealthy environment.
God never forces himself on anyone. He operates perfectly in the law of liberty, and created us as autonomous individuals who think and decide for ourselves. He does not want us to surrender our minds blindly to him. We are called to be thinkers, not reflectors of other people’s opinions. God made us reason for ourselves, and to be self-controlled individuals who recognize his wisdom and choose to operate within his ways and methods of love, liberty and service to others.
Five things you can do to deepen your marriage relationship
Many couples complain that they have lost the spark in their relationship. The mundane chores and busyness of work, getting kids to sports or music lessons seem to drown out the special times they used to have. One couple said, “We don’t seem to be able to touch each other as deeply as we used to. We don’t even know each other that well anymore.” With 30-60 percent of married people experiencing an affair at some point in their marriage, one begs to ask the question, how can a couple restore and even deepen fulfillment and meaning in their relationship?
Few things in life are as satisfying as having a great partner relationship. Having an abiding sense of deep friendship and assurance of your special one always being there for you is invaluable. Couples can weather lots of storms and handle the curb balls of life when each one knows they are not alone. There is the sense that, “someone is always there for me and has my back.” In a healthy relationship the trust goes deep. Even in the healthiest of relationships, hurts and disappointments happen, but because of the strength of friendship and history of treasured shared experiences, couples are better equipped to weather the storms. And, even if you don’t see your relationship falling in that category, the good news is, most couples can become healthier if they are willing to change and grow. Are you willing to become more intentional about growing and deepening your marriage? Here are five things that research shows that you can do to strengthen and deepen your partner relationship:
- Build your relationship on a foundation of noble and meaningful values. After decades of in depth research, Dr.s John and Julie Gottman discovered that having shared meaning was a crucial element in healthy couples. In other words, finding that special cause or the value that makes you tick is important. What are you both passionate about? What are some values and priorities you hold dear? And what is the story behind these values or dreams? Even traditions or rituals like Friday night dates, special holiday traditions or birthday rituals serve to create bonds between partners. These are things healthy couples consider important and spend time sharing with each other. As the different seasons of life change, priorities and dreams may change. Couples need regular updates of each other’s inner “maps” and where we want our journeys to take us. Sharing with each other and becoming involved together build strong bonds that are hard to break.
- Be willing to grow and change. Most of us carry with us habits, expectations, idiosyncrasies and opinions that can cause problems for our partner relationship. Before I got married, there was one thing I asked my husband-to-be: Are you willing to change and grow as we walk through life together? I knew I was, and he said he was. Deal! Through the years, we both have done a lot of growing up, healing, adjusting, forgiving, and tolerating, and I am happier now than ever, both with myself and with my husband. Marriage is such an incredible opportunity to develop self-awareness and build greater character. And this is crucial in life! In this process, becoming aware of my past hurts, destructive patterns, and being willing to process them was vital. Little by little, I learned to be more honest with myself, instead of missing out on growth opportunities by being defensive.
- Learn to fight well. The Gottman’s found that couples who get ugly with each other will have a hard time making it. Attacking your partner through angry accusations of everything they do wrong has shown to be a tell-tale of disaster, especially if it becomes a habit. Is it OK to bring up concerns? Absolutely! But do it in a calm manner, explaining that what happened or keeps happening is difficult for you. It may sound something like this: “When you keep coming late without texting/calling,, it makes me feel unimportant, and I wish that you would be more considerate, so I don’t have to worry.” To sum up this approach: “When xyz happens, I feel ______ , and I wish _______.” Neither does it help to be defensive and refusing to take at least some of the responsibility. Defensiveness can be subtly expressed through body language, or by playing the victim, making excuses for yourself. The better response is something like, “I think I see what you mean.” Or, “you do have a point there.” Learn to stop any disagreement before it becomes ugly. Either take a break when you get worked up (it takes the body about 25 minutes to calm down to where you can think straight again), or break the tension with humor or expression of genuine appreciation. Talking about appreciation:
- Express much of it, along with generous, but sincere encouragement and fondness. Again, research shows that when this becomes second nature for couples, they are on a good path. Many couples tend to think the worst of each other instead of the best. If your partner comes home from work a little cranky and short, do you defensively think to yourself, “what did I do now?” or do you excuse your partner by assuming that he or she “probably had a stressful day at work?” Couples who are in the habit of expressing appreciation and fondness will develop a strong friendship and will not have the tendency to jump to negative conclusions. If you think your relationship could stand a higher dose of expressions of love and admiration, become more intentional about it. Get in the habit of exchanging affirming statements to each other at least twice a day. Text something during the day. Don’t just think it, express it! It is amazing how something this simple can actually change the atmosphere in your home and the culture of your relationship.
- Show mutual respect. Unfortunately, a lot of hard-to-kill traditions and religious teaching have contributed to many lopsided relationships. Many studies show that when one person takes it upon themselves to become the dominant partner and main decision maker, resentment may develop over time. Because of culture and tradition, men have more of tendency to not be influenced by their wives than vice versa, however, it is also true that women can be domineering. When issues come up, the domineering partner may start attacking the other, or they will clam up and stubbornly stand their ground. These behaviors are clear signs that a partner is not willing to accept influence from the other. Questions to ask yourself about your relationship: Are both my partner and I interested in each other’s opinions? Does what my partner feels really count with me? Am I willing to listen respectfully even when I disagree? Do I insist on being the one to make major decisions in our relationship or family? Am I open to the strength and expertise of my spouse? Am I willing to compromise? Where there is lack of mutual respect, there will be resentment, and trust and true intimacy will erode. If you think you tend to want to be the one in charge, be willing to be curious why that is, and be willing to listen and learn from your partner. Your marriage may be at stake.
I believe that as humans, our innate yearning for belonging will push us towards growth and change. People who don’t want to change are not happy people! I work with many couples on a regular basis, and my experience is that most couples can make a turnaround and find restoration of trust and connection in their relationship. Seeing changes and improvement in our lives will lead to heightened sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. And when this happens, we will tend to love and esteem others more, which again will boost our sense of self. This is a great cycle to be in!
Path of Hope Counseling is located at 10310 N 138th E Ave, Suite 104 in Owasso Oklahoma, right behind the Bowling Alley in Owasso off 106th St North. I am in the building with an Edward Jones sign outside.
10 Ways of Overcoming Discouragement
Often we can feel overwhelmed and stressed when we feel we fall short, or when progress doesn’t happen as soon as we would like. Sometimes a critical voice at work or hard-to-overcome challenges at home can be discouraging. There are times in life when everything that could go wrong does go wrong. Or you find yourself in the same situation you faced last year and you feel that you are going around the same mountain AGAIN.
Here are some ways to overcome hopelessness and discouragement:
- Remember what God says about you! Find an encouraging book or find scriptures that remind you of who you are. God’s reality is superior to any circumstance here on earth. Make the promises personal and present tense, and begin to speak them to yourself. I often encourage my clients to get their head into God’s reality. He is always there, and always full of life and comfort.
- Remind yourself of past victories, things you have accomplished, and how God has brought you through difficult circumstances in the past. Remember how you have been a help to others. Remind yourself about all the good qualities you have.
- Go to a meetup, a church service, or listen to a speaker who brings new hope, vision, motivation, and encouragement.
- Get moving! Take a walk, go to the gym, or spend some time outside. It is rejuvenating, and exercise will get the feel-good hormones moving.
- Spend time with a friend who will encourage you. This will help you gain perspective and help you see yourself in a new light.
- Gratitude is powerful. Our culture values outward success and public recognition. Sometimes we feel entitled to certain outcomes in our lives, or we get caught in feeling sorry for ourselves. Begin to write a list of all the things you are grateful for. Begin to thank God out loud.
- Do some self-care. Get enough sleep. Most of us can feel “out of it” when we are sleep deprived. Eat a good, healthy meal with someone you love and appreciate. Laugh. Plan time off doing something you like. Spend time being creative.
- Make goals you can accomplish within a short time. Celebrate even small accomplishments. Use your talents to serve others. Take a class or network with others to move forward. Focus on how you can help others.
- Examine your boundaries. Often, resentment and discouragement come when we allow others to take advantage of us. Talk with a wise friend or counselor.
- If discouragement persists or turns into depression, please contact a counselor or trusted friend and get help. Remember that God’s number one way of helping, strengthening, and maturing us is through His people. A good counselor can help you through grief, relationship issues, stuck places, or low self-worth. You are special and valuable, and God has a higher path for you to walk! A strong hope can move you forward and give you strength to lay a hold of the good things He has for you!
Walking the Path of Hope
I love the story depicted in the movie “The Blind Side”. Michael Oher, a homeless African American teenager from a broken home, is taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential. Living in his new environment, the teen faces completely different challenges to overcome. As a football player and student, Michael works hard, and with the help of his coaches and adopted family, becomes an All-American offensive left tackle.
Through Mrs. Touhy’s faith in him and the love and support of his new family, and by the help of his tutor and his coaches, he begins to channel his strength and formidable size to serve his team in a powerful way and fulfill his potential.
Hope drives us forward. Hope means to desire something with confident expectation of its fulfillment. For me, hope is ultimately anchored in the unchangeable character of God (Hebr.6:16-18). This kind of hope is “firm and secure.” It keeps me moving forward on a solid path!
When I got saved as a teenager, I soon realized that there was a calling upon my life to help people develop their relationship with God and experience lasting transformation through teaching and mentoring. During those years I experienced much turmoil both outwardly and inwardly, but I had experienced God’s presence and promises in my heart, and I decided to hold on and fix my eyes on the passion in my heart.
I began to search for mentors; somehow I knew that I would never walk out the destiny in my life without God-sent people and connections. 40 years later, I see God’s incredible faithfulness in connecting me with superb teachers, pastors and mentors, some of them internationally known. These people imparted understanding to me, they sponsored me, others served as connectors and opened extraordinary doors for me. Some of them loudly expressed their faith in me and coached me in various areas. Others challenged me in areas where I had put limitations on myself.
Hope is powerful. Hope awakens faith and action and stirs us to begin to walk the path. As we actively seek out counselors and mentors, we can avoid being stuck in dead ends. We can learn new skills to scale hills and mountains. We can experience healing and new courage. We can develop deep and meaningful relationships.
In this blog I will be sharing things I have learned through my training and counseling experience as well as what I have learned in my walk with God. My purpose is to help you develop healthy relationships, make tangible progress and experience healing. We all have a hope of a better future, and I invite you to share this wonderful, rewarding journey. I am still on this path of hope, still growing, still walking with God and looking for an even greater fulfillment of my dreams.
Do you have special requests for issues? Comments or questions? I invite you to leave them here. Would love to hear from you!
Marriage and couples counseling
Congratulations on taking the first step to seek professional help! Maybe you struggle with communication, infidelity, or a passive/aggressive partner. Or perhaps your situation is more unusual. Whatever the case may be, I can help!
I am glad to offer services to couples seeking marriage or premarital counseling. I have completed Gottman level 1 training and I am certified in SYMBIS (Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts) assessment for premarital counseling, which is a cutting edge, research based assessment for engaged and newly-wed couples. High quality premarital counseling can help couples deal with potential conflicts before they start and equip couples to become aware of possible destructive patterns. You become equipped with how to handle differences in the future in healthy ways. With a 50% divorce rate, this is a truly crucial investment to make. So many divorces are so unnecessary, but many couples are not aware of what is going on in their marriages, and they don’t know how to solve these issues. Why not learn BEFORE you get married?
In marriage counseling I have been privileged to see couple after couple put back on the right track and spouses establish a healthy relationship through obtaining better communication, increased understanding, and deeper connection through proven marriage strategies. Some of the common areas where you may face challenges include:
- Lack of engagement from one partner
- Trust issues
- Poor communication
- Blended families
- Physical and emotional infidelity
- Control and Abuse
- Depression and anxiety
- Substance abuse
- Conflicting opinions about parenting
At Path of Hope you are assured a safe, caring, confidential, and non-judgmental atmosphere to process and heal. It is also important that you both commit to honesty with each other and take time to work on your relationship between sessions. We use a proven framework that can help you improve communication, restore trust, and find a deeper connection, and can give you resources to help you between sessions.
Marriage counseling also benefits each spouse individually. Marriage counseling can be hard work, but result in valuable personal growth! Some of the great advantages of marriage counseling is:
- Improved communication and deeper connection
- New self-awareness (healthy people have high self-awareness)
- Removing negative cycles that keep a relationship stuck
- Healing from past hurt and trauma
- Learning how to meet your partner’s need and your own as well
Individual therapy addresses individual concerns, but can also be related to marriage or family issues. Often, individuals find themselves in situations where guidance and perspective are needed, or they discover negative patterns in their lives that they want to move past. I believe that there is always a solution – always a path of hope to discover – a strategy that leads into improved relationships, healthy boundaries, self-worth, overcoming spiritual issues, and greater self-awareness. I am here to see you fulfill your potential and become everything you were meant to be. Having been a Christian believer all my life with a background in ministry, I also offer counseling based on solid biblical principles as well as how transformation takes place from the standpoint of mind renewal (Romans 12:2). I find personal growth very rewarding!
Some of the issues I tend to work with the most are:
- Depression and anxiety
- Trauma and PTSD
- Relationship issues
- Low self-worth
- Church relationships and spirituality
Basically, everyone could benefit from a few sessions of individual counseling to gain perspective of their lives, become aware of negative thought or behavioral patterns that hold them back, and begin a journey on a higher path to experience greater fulfillment and meaning.
Insurance and Session Packets
At Path of Hope we take Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare, UMR, Aetna and Healthchoice. Sessions are $135. Remember that by using insurance, I am forced to give you a mental health diagnosis that will be on your record. Please call me if you have questions about this. Please check your deductible before using insurance.
Learn Biblical Meditation!
For many years, I have enjoyed the practice of Biblical meditation. I find that this is the fast track to lasting transformation. I will teach you and demonstrate to show you how you can experience surprising, effortless changes. No more trying hard – giving up cycles.