Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to some graduating high school Seniors at their senior banquet at our local Methodist church. My speech was about rules for living.  I want to give credit for some of my thoughts to Cherie Carter-Scott who wrote a book several years ago called, “If Life is a Game, These are the Rules.” One of the rules I spoke of is…

WHAT YOU MAKE OF YOUR LIFE IS UP TO YOU.

Every person creates his or her own reality. Authorship of your life is one of your absolute rights; yet so often people deny that they have the ability to script the life they desire. They willingly give that power to someone or something else; and live life full of “yeah, buts…” that do not produce results but just reinforce the delusion of inability. I believe strongly in personal power and responsibility.

It is important to understand the difference between responsibility and blame. Blame is associated with fault, whereas responsibility denotes authorship. Blame carries guilt and negative feelings; responsibility brings the relief of not having to dodge the full truth anymore and releases that guilt. Blame implies fault; responsibility implies ownership. Blame is stagnant; responsibility propels you forward and onward to your greater good.

I believe that we have to take responsibility for our own lives and stop making others responsible for our own choices. No one makes us feel or do anything that we do not choose to do. If you drink too much with your friends, that is your choice. They do not hold you down and force you to drink. If you become angry at someone and decide to physically harm them, that is also your choice. You could choose to talk out your differences and find a more productive way of handling things. There is personal power in choice. Saying “no” to things that compromise you is powerful.

The road to self-respect requires that you be the captain of your own ship, that you take responsibility for your actions. If you are not, the waves will toss you about and you will be unsure of how to navigate treacherous waters. Being centered and responsible means you own your emotions. We do not have our independence until we live by our own morals and standards and take responsibility for our own feelings and thoughts. And we develop and evolve by the choices we make and the way we face our challenges. Always be open to learning. Being a know-it-all stunts growth. Don’t live a life blaming others for your situation. That road is a dead end.

Making life what you want it to be can be scary, mainly because it may require you to go against the flow, to be different than the popular opinion or more functional than your family or origin. It may make you anxious and afraid, but that is okay. Do not treat moments when you can go beyond yourself as not you. Treat them as moments when you are challenging your limits. I have a quote framed in my house that says, “Always try to do better.”

Measure yourself by your own standards, by your own moral code – not by what others think of you. Do the right thing even if someone else is doing the wrong thing… you will emerge with self-respect; something much more valuable than possessions or prestige. Goethe said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness had genius, power, and magic in it.” Setting an intention is half the battle.
I encourage you to exhibit courage as you face life and ask God to give you that courage. Courage is not defiance, defiance is fake courage. Courage is finding the inner strength an bravery required when confronting danger, difficulty, or opposition. Courage is the energy current behind all great actions and the spark that ignites the initial baby steps of growth. Courage is what it takes to struggle through life so that it will become something of your own making.

JENNIFER

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Here, in an interesting article, Keith Molyneaux helps us look at relationships from a different perspective: “Why Men Withdraw Emotionally”, and offers insights about men’s world. It may not apply to everyone, yet it certainly opens space to consider our own reactions: when we withdraw and why -man or woman-, whether it comes from protection and/or frustration, confusion or overwhelming feeling. It also brings more clarity about existing double standards and levels of expectations men have to face. Keith Molyneaux looks into the challenge of 2 partners needing nurturing, empathy, support and recognition at the same time, with one of the two having more experience, in this area, than the other.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/02/why-men-withdraw-emotionally/

Resonating with this article? Open to explore each other’s world in a safe environment? Feel free to contact Aline Robolin, LPC at 706 425 8900, ext 705, or Aline@ca4wellbeing.com.

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www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2013/08/22/study-to-the-human-brain-me-is-we/

We are wired toward connection! This is an exciting time in terms of the emerging knowledge regarding our minds and our behavior in relationships.  I highly recommend you read the article linked above.  Interestingly, recent MRI studies show that participants react to a threat against a loved one with the same intensity as they would a threat to themselves.  Daniel Siegel, who is a pioneer in the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology, has written and spoken prolifically for years describing how our minds develop through interactions with others and that processes to integrate the mind heal relationships (and the reverse is true as well).  These MRI studies confirm what therapists have known for years about the importance of empathy in our relationships.  Also, this type of research is confirming what we know about couples: partners become emotionally attuned to each other and react to the other’s emotions and moods.

The really good news is that when we learn to have attuned communication with others, we actually integrate and improve the wiring in our brains.  Attuned communication is defined by Siegel as resonating with another’s inner world.  This connects with John Gottman’s research with couples also that happy spouses know each other’s inner worlds.  Siegel says we cannot just focus on the thoughts and feelings, but we have to be mindful of the energy in our exchanges with others.  Mindfulness practices and meditation can improve our ability to be present in relationships as well as improve our well-being.

If you are interested in improving your understanding of your own behavior in relationships and learning tools to enhance them, I am a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist and Certified Hatha Yoga Instructor with expertise in helping individuals and couples improve their communication and lessen their reactivity as well as change patterns that are painful.  Please call 706-425-8900 or email Suzanne@ca4wellbeing.com with questions or to schedule a session.

 

This talk by Dr Brene Brown “Shame and Empathy” has been, for me, invigorating, clarifying and thought provoking. I resonate with her statement about connection being the essence of human experience, as it gives meaning to our experience. She presents a concept about connection, where empathy and shame are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, and vulnerability/authenticity is the cursor between the 2: the more vulnerable/open you are, the closer you are to empathy; and the less you are vulnerable, the closer you are to shame -“I cannot let you see these pieces of me, because I fear that will create disconnection “-.  We armor ourself for self-protection from suffering, and as we live in a culture of fear about not fitting in, it does not leave space for vulnerability. Yet vulnerability and authenticity are the path to what we are longing for: love, belonging, trust, intimacy joy, creativity and innovation, as well as empathy. How do we create compassionate/safe space to share and listen to our stories? How do we create a place for connection?

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I am leading several groups of NonViolent Communication, also called Compassionate Communication (more information at CNVC.org). If you resonate with this subject and are longing to be heard and to listen to others in a safe environment, you can contact Aline Robolin, LPC at 706 425 8900, ext 705, or Aline@ca4wellbeing.com.

I invite you to watch this video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQiFfA7KfF0 and share your feedback if you desire.

 

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Goal setting plays an important role in moving ourselves forward in life.   At the beginning of a New Year, many people choose to make New Year’s resolutions with the intent to improve some part of their life.   I have made many over the years, many of which I had given up by the third week of January.   Also, there have been years in which I have sworn off the resolutions to avoid the feelings of lack of discipline and failure.

This year, after taking the first three weeks of January to consider what I wanted to create in my life, I narrowed down a list of several areas of my life that could use some help. Consistently, they all lead back to one simple basic habit. This simple, but often elusive, habit is crucial for developing and maintaining a healthy mind, body, and spirit.   It’s the basic practice of getting adequate sleep.  Seven to eight hours of sleep a night for an adult is considered to be healthy sleep.

Sleep affects the mind, body and spirit in numerous ways.  Most everyone has short-lived bouts of insomnia, which is generally nothing to be concerned about.  The bigger concern is chronic sleep loss which include sleeping issues several nights a week or less than six hours of sleep on a consistent basis.  Chronic sleep loss can contribute to health problems in areas such as learning and memory, metabolism and weight, anxiety and depression, blood pressure and hormone levels, and the immune system.

Sleep allows the body to do a lot of repair work both restoratively in the body through muscle growth, tissue repair, and growth hormone as well as cognitively in the brain with neural plasticity.   Sleep is a key to keeping your body and mind fit and healthy.

If you have difficulty sleeping, neurofeedback training may help you.   Recently, I worked with a client who had sleep problems for over five years.  After trying many sleep solutions including several prescription sleep medications and not having results, the client gave neurofeedback a try.  Now, he is sleeping through the night for at least eight hours on a consistent basis.

Getting adequate sleep can have life changing effect for health and well being.  Contact Pamela Key at Counseling Associates for Well-Being at (706) 425-8900 or Pamela@ca4wellbeing.com for information on how neurofeedback training can help you.

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I am not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions. I find them to be similar to diets in the way they create a setup of unrealistically harsh expectations for one’s self that are bound to fail. However, there is one resolution I would suggest and celebrate for anyone to make, and this resolution improves outlook and mood, health, relationships and all other aspects of life. This resolution would be a commitment in the year 2014 to improve one’s relationship with self. The relationship we have with ourselves is the longest and most important as it forms the basis for how we see the world and make choices for our behavior.

How does one improve that relationship? One way we improve it is by becoming aware of and improving our self-talk.  Many of us have developed a strong inner drill sergeant that seeks to motivate us to “be better” and “do better”.  I would argue that we get a lot further with compassion for self and treating ourselves as we would a dear friend.  Compassion for self does not mean denial or dishonesty, but looking at situations in our lives with the understanding we are human and deserve unconditional emotional support first and foremost.  With compassion and honesty with self, we are more likely to make choices such as better self-care or reaching out for help when it is needed-and we all need help as human beings.

I would suggest mindfully starting with this intention each day.  Take a few quiet minutes to meditate on the intention to be compassionate toward one’s self on a daily basis.  This alone could create quite a lasting change this year.  Contact me at suzanne@ca4wellbeing.com if you would like to work on a new approach to making changes and dealing with challenges. Happy New Year!

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So we just finished the Thanksgiving holiday celebration.  As it happens, my  birthday week falls around Thanksgiving every year. These birthday things keep happening year after year no matter what.  They are often a time to reflect, to take stock. I don’t generally enjoy so much thinking, but this year I thought about what I am thankful for about my advancing age.

I love that I finally can stop wishing that I can one day live up to the incredibly unrealistic physical image of 20 year old super models. I love that the things I now value are so much more important. I actually pause to be grateful that I can walk up flights of stairs or enjoy the beauty of the beach or enjoy a fabulous meal with friends or family.

I am grateful to have time to read even if some days  it is just the newspaper, or the captions under the pretty photos in my favorite magazines. I am grateful  to have some ideas about what I enjoy, and also to still have an abundance of curiosity about what else there might be to discover.

I am grateful that my vision is no longer what it once was. I marvel at the genius of the design that allows me to lose the ability to see clearly the wrinkles that are spreading like fine webs under my eyes.

I am grateful for the realization that painful moments do in fact finally end. When I was younger, it was so much harder to endure things that were difficult when I had no idea that “these things pass.”  I am grateful that there are still so many things to look forward to.   Getting older is getting better and better!  And gratitude is a wonderful thing.

 

25 Nov 2013
November 25, 2013

Stress Less

News, Stress, Wellness

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National Stress Out Week is this month, and the timing is just right. The days are shorter, and holidays are here. Shorter days, changes in schedules, and an increase in demands, whether actual or perceived, create stress.
The downside of stress is that too much stress over time can wear you down physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The upside of stress is that some stress can be helpful. It creates energy and focus needed to accomplish tasks. And, the stress that’s not helpful can be reduced or managed.

One of the first steps to managing stress is awareness. Observe when you feel stress. Be mindful of thoughts, actions, and circumstances that prompt feeling more emotionally anxious or even slightly frustrated. Stress is usually from some external source, like as request or perceived requirement from another person or a circumstance. The negative response to stress is often at least partically internal and may include emotions, thoughts, and even physical sensations. It can show up as anxiety, worry thoughts, sadness, frustration, physical sensations such as muscle tension, and even reduced immunity to illness.

There are many ways to deal with unhelpful stress and its impact. I like to address stress considering three factors.  These include mindfulness, reducing unhelpful stress, and managing what can’t be reduced. This approach is grounded in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and lines up with several other proven therapeutic approaches.
We are all different and respond differently to events and life circumstances. However, we all have some experience of helpful and unhelpful stress.
If you would like to learn, practice, and enhance stress management skills, I would be pleased to talk with you.  You can contact me, Alice Deal, at alice@ca4wellbeing.com or by calling 706-425-8900 ext. 703

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Are you or do you know someone who is struggling with attention and focus in the classroom or in life in general?  Is medication the only treatment that you are aware of being offered to help?  If so, check out Neurofeedback as an effective ADHD treatment.

Neurofeedback is a safe, non-invasive alternative option for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  It teaches the brain to stay attentive and focused through self-regulation.  It retrains the inefficient neural pathways into efficient neural pathways that more easily attend and focus to tasks.  Neurofeedback has now been accepted by the American Academy of Pediatrics as a Level 1 “Best Support” intervention for ADHD.  Compelling published research supports its effectiveness.

The efficacy of neurofeedback has been documented in over fifty peer-reviewed, published journal articles.  These research studies show that the effectiveness of neurofeedback is equal to or greater than any other therapeutic intervention for ADHD.  In addition, the positive effects of NFB are maintained, and in some cases, even increase once the treatment ends.  In contrast, the benefits of stimulant medication stop as soon as the medication is discontinued, and over 50% of the individuals taking a stimulant medication are reported to have one or more significant adverse side effects (e.g., poor appetite, irritability, stunted growth, and sleep problems).  It is no surprise that individuals and parents of children with ADHD are fearful of using stimulant medications on a long-term basis and often seek a non-drug alternative.

For more information about neurofeedback and how it may help with attention/focus issues; please contact Pamela Key, Neurofeedback Practitioner at Counseling Associates for Well-Being.  (706) 425-8600 or pamela@ca4wellbeing.com

Something that really spoke to me at the time that I was just beginning the step-parent/ blended family journey was the notion that almost every step-family came into existence after a significant loss.  Some come after a death, and some after a divorce.  And it made so much sense to me that a big factor in how the journey of the step-family evolved was how that loss had impacted everyone in the family.  And of course, where each person was in their journey with the grief around that loss.

As I work with people in newly blended families, I often see struggles coming from unresolved anger and hurt with an ex, or fear and uncertainty about creating a new vision for the future after the loss of another vision.  When people divorce, there is this profound sense of loss—not necessarily of the marriage as it actually was, but of the marriage that was at one time hoped for.

Children of the divorce are affected by changes. What they have come to know as “how things are and how things work” is no longer the same.    Often their parents’ discord was troublesome before the divorce. The changes that come after their parents split , even though they may hold the potential for something better,  is scary because it is unknown—and so much is just different.  What is lost is simply the predictability that life once had.   So the union of a new couple in aftermath of such a loss brings even more change, even more uncertainty.

Certainly, the length of time since a death or divorce has happened can impact the ease of the transition, but if a divorce or death was truly difficult or traumatic, the impact on the expectations and fears around that can be seen even years later.    Understanding and processing the losses can help enormously with the journey to a great step-coupling and blended family life.

If you need some help in your step-family journey, contact Claire Zimmerman, LCSW at Claire@ca4wellbeing.com

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