Monday, September 19, 2016

Solve Morning Stress with the “Daily 5”

By: Dwight Bain, LMHC

Does your morning ritual start calmly with peaceful conversations, or it is a mad rush full of conflict and chaos?

For most of us it’s a time of panic, rushing and even yelling at each other, (which never makes it better by the way). So, how can you move from a morning rush to a healthy morning routine? The answer is found in a series of daily disciplines my friend John Maxwell taught me which I call the “Daily 5”.  

These are a series of healthy rituals that are practiced every day, no matter what. The secret isn’t in listing a healthy pattern to start your day rather the real strength comes from practicing them every day.
Dr. Maxwell explains it this way, “Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing. It doesn’t matter how talented you are. It doesn’t matter how many opportunities you receive. If you want to grow, consistency is key.” John goes on to share that his five disciplines are, reading, writing, thinking, asking questions and filing what he has learned. Watching how effectively these daily disciplines added value to my friend led to developing my own daily list. They are:
1.    Pray, (usually while walking in the morning)
2.    Scriptures, or an inspirational devotional
3.    Read/Research cultural trends in personal development and change
4.    Write about those trends to add value to others
5.    Encourage friends and family
Many years ago my lovely wife Sheila taught me the simplicity of laying out clothes and shoes the night before and placing car keys and cellphone chargers near the front door to prevent morning chaos. It works and solves tremendous conflict, yet a more organized morning will not create the lasting results of changed behavior over time.

“Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” – Dr. John C. Maxwell

To solve the morning chaos and feel peaceful as you launch into your day, ask yourself what are your “Daily 5” Disciplines which could make a huge difference in your life?

Once you know what your daily 5 are, and begin to put them into practice, ask your children what their “Daily 5” Disciplines might be.
Remember, it’s important for them to select their own tasks, not yours as a parent. If they don’t know ask them what is important to make their morning function better. It might be simple, but be encouraging so your children feel empowered to take on a task, instead of waiting helplessly for you as the parent to tackle it for them.

The Daily 5 can change your home, but only if it starts with you. The way you start your day will set the tone for the entire day, so when the sun comes up tomorrow morning try a new path and watch how much better you and those you care about feel.

About the Author: Dwight Bain is a change author, believer, husband, father, reader & Jazz Music lover who adds value with transformational Counseling & Coaching. Follow him across social media platforms @DwightBain

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Coping With a Grief Anniversary: 7 Tips

By: Anthony Centore Ph.D.  (Guest Blogger)

The anniversary of a loss is one of the most difficult times we experience after a loss. Each year, we are reminded of our loss. It is not uncommon to experience a reoccurrence of our grief. This experience commonly referred to as the “grief anniversary” can be unsettling and confusing, especially when we are sure we have grieved and moved forward into our new lives.
     Knowing that the anniversary is coming can evoke feelings of dread and fear. While it is not an easy time, there are things you can do to cope with the anniversary and the feelings that may arise. Here are seven counselor approved tips.
Coping With the Grief Anniversary
1. Build Comfort and Support into the Day – Having support on that day can be comforting. Reach out to close friends and relatives for support. Let them know ahead of time that the day might be hard for you. Plan to spend some time with them.
2. Choose to Remember the Day – It is easier to cope with feelings and memories if we expect them and choose them. Plan an activity/time (or even the day) to remember your loved one. Acknowledge your emotions. They are all valid and important.
3. Acknowledge that Recurrence of Grief is Normal – We never truly stop grieving. The intensity softens over time and we learn to find meaning in our new lives. We go on. Anniversaries, holidays or other special times may trigger a reoccurrence of your grief. It is a normal part of grieving and loss. Know that it can happen and that there is nothing wrong with you.
4. Find Comfort Helping Others – One very powerful way to cope with an anniversary is to do something in memory of your loved one. He/she may have had a favorite charity. Can you volunteer your time? Doing something that was important to your loved one can bring feelings of closeness and comfort to you.
5. Visit A Special Place – Visit a place that was special to your loved one. It might be a museum, a secret fishing hole, a favorite restaurant. Let yourself recall the warm memories and feelings associated with this place.
6. Take a Private Moment – Take a moment during the day to remember your loved one, say a prayer or just speak what’s on your heart. You can acknowledge the pain but also remember to acknowledge the happy memories and the strength you’ve gained as a result of the loss.
7. Create a Ritual or Tradition – Start a tradition or ritual that you can use to mark the grief anniversary each year. It may be a trip to a favorite restaurant. It may be a toast to your loved one. It may be the family getting together to celebrate the person’s life. A remembrance tradition can be whatever it is that brings you comfort in remembering.
When Is Recurrent Grief A Problem?
     The grief anniversary or even the anticipation of the anniversary can evoke strong and sometimes overwhelming emotions. This can catch us off guard and be quite distressing.

     The experienced grief counselors at The LifeWorks Group understand recurrent grief. They can help you find healthy ways to cope and get you back on your healing journey. This article was provided by the editorial team at Thriveworks, celebrating the opening of our new Fredericksburg VA Counseling Center.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Take Time to Be Still

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

For Floridians, hurricane threats send people scurrying around town collecting water, batteries, and can goods. The stores are flocked with people as the shelves begin to go bare. Preparations are made to homes and offices to protect landscapes, windows, and possessions. Anyone who lived through the four hurricane year of 2004, remembers the unpredictability of the path, the weeks without power, the displaced people, the intense traffic, and massive devastation that took years to recover. Nearly every part of Florida was affected by one of the storms.
But right before the storm would approach, there was an eerie stillness. Even the birds were silent as the streets of major cities became deserted, businesses and schools were shut down, homes were boarded up, and the people braced for impact. There was a peaceful deceiving look outside as even the trees were tranquil. The silence, in combination with a realization that nothing more could be done at the moment but to wait, placed serenity in the hearts of many.
That calmness was very much needed in the next few hours as each storm hit the state collectively leaving over $57 billion dollars in damage and the loss of over 3,000 lives. That was a difficult summer for nearly every Floridian contributing greatly to the economic downfall and real estate collapse two years later. The storms were a battle of sorts and those of us who lived through it pray for it never to happen again.
But there are lessons to be learned from the experience which can be applied to everyday life. The “storm” can be metaphorical for nearly anything in a person’s life. It could be a child leaving for college, a divorce, a move, change in vocation, permanent disability, significant shift in health, or the slow loss of a family member. Here are seven steps in dealing momentous change:

1.       Acknowledge. The first step is to acknowledge that something is about to change. It is important to name that change and have some understanding if the change is permanent or temporary.
2.      Plan. The next is to formulate a plan for the change. This might include a time line with deadlines for completion on items to be done. Or it might be a plan of worst case scenarios.
3.      Watch. Just because the change is coming does not mean that it is the right time to start on the plan. Be watchful of the early warning signs before beginning to implement the plan.
4.      Prepare. Now that the change is on the horizon, begin the preparation phase of the plan keeping the deadlines in mind. Strive to finish before the last deadline to allow time for the next phase.
5.      Wait. This is perhaps the most important part of any change. The waiting. Taking time out to rest just before a major shift in life helps to mentally and physical readjust to the new circumstances.
6.      Fight. All change brings about a period of struggle and battle. The previous steps help a person to successfully navigate the difficult time period of adjustment and tweak any necessary short-comings.
7.      Reflect. At the end of the process, it is good to evaluate and reflect on what worked and what needed improving. This information is invaluable for the next change in life.

The storms of life do not have to knock a person down. Rather, this can be a time for growth. But without the most important step of being still, the change can easily exhaust and overwhelm.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.

Can Too Much Breaking News Cause Psychological Harm?

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

The short answer is yes. Breaking news tends to be highly dramatic, less specific, emotionally driven, and very current. Just this past week, our area’s breaking news included: bomb threats at several area schools, fatal car accidents, several homicides, discovery of burnt body, missing child, severe child abuse charges pressed against parents, and the latest in political upheaval. Any one of these events can trigger psychological issues.

·         Anxiety. The first noticeable response is usually anxiety. This can be mild or more severe leading to a panic attack. When parents were notified of the bomb threats for their child’s school, many were concerned about sending their child to school that day. The affected schools reported a significant increase in absences which is unusual for the first week of school. While it is understandable that a parent would be worried, the news generated anxiety affecting the entire community.
·         Depression. For a person already prone to depression, too much news can elevate levels. It is discouraging enough to know that some parents abuse their children while other parents are terrified of never seeing their child again. Just thinking about the suffering of the children can place a person in a state of despair.
·         Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS). Unfortunately, some news stations are irresponsible about showing video footage of beatings, dead bodies, severe abuse, or torture. Once these images enter the brain, they cannot be removed. A person can relive the incidents over and over generating a secondary stress response. In many cases, this can be just as impactful as PTSD.
·         Paranoia. With all that is happening in the world, it is not surprising that many become paranoid of things happening to them or their family members. When the fear takes root, it can limit social interactions and associations with new people which can lead to isolation. The suspicion sometimes becomes so strong that it infects even family members and former friendships.
If any of these sound familiar, it is not too late. Here is something that can be done right now that will change the intensity of the emotions.
·         Limit time. Decide ahead of time how many minutes will be devoted to the latest news and then follow it. Try not to watch the news late at night when it is easy to fester on the current happenings right before bedtime.
·         Lighten it up. Intermixing other lighter news stories with the breaking news will help to bring balance. This allows for a more accurate perception of the world. Watching a comedy before bedtime is also useful.
·         Use responsible news stations, papers, or websites. Avoid sensational journalism that is frequently inaccurate and intended to spark an emotional response. Rather, choose a balance between several sources to discover the truth.
·         Talk about it. Having discussions about the news is a great way to release tensions and reduce anxiety. Find a couple of people who are easy to engage in conversation and limit the amount of time that a topic is discussed. For the more traumatic news reports, it is imperative that the situation be discussed to limit the potential for obsessive thinking.

A person doesn’t have to avoid all of the breaking news to keep from being psychologically harmed. Rather, it is better to have a sensible approach with some safe guards in place.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

How to Tell a Narcissist by Their Writing

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

It is easy to spot a narcissist by their speaking. The constant references to self, comparing them with others always coming out on top, the verbal assaults to disarm and belittle others, and insisting they deserve admiration for some achievement are all indicators. But when it comes to writing, it might be harder to identify.
To make a far assessment, the DSM-5 criteria for Narcissist Personality Disorder (NPD) will be used. In bold are brief characteristics identified in the DSM and following are how it appears in articles, books, blogs, emails, and even texts.

·         Expects to be recognized as superior. NPDs constantly demand attention. As such, their writing often has an air of superiority or “I’m better than you” tone. Sometimes, they are even bold enough to come right out and say they are the best. They tend to write to incite or provoke others but it is not for action. Rather, the victim feels placed in a position of defending themselves.
·         Exaggerates achievements and talents. This usually comes in the form of someone who pretends they are an expert in an area that they actually lack any discernable creditability. The use of first person in the writing is typical as NPDs prefer to speak about themselves more than the subject matter. Always check the credentials of an author through an independent source. NPDs will often lie about their own accomplishments.
·         Fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate. This is perhaps best demonstrated in a new romantic relationship where the NPD will write just how perfect their connection to one another is. The tendency for a NPD is to move very quickly in a relationship and they will write the exact right thing. This bubble is burst once the NPD knows they have the heart and commitment of the other person.
·         Superior attitude with need to associate with equally special people. Condensation is writing is the first clue especially when the NPD places them as the standard. Some NPDs will quote famous people as if they personally have a relationship with them when they don’t. For instance, they might say they are friends with a person whom they are only following on twitter.
·         Needs constant admiration. In this case, attention is a nice substitute for admiration. All attention is good for a NPD including negative attention. They will intentionally overreach their influence in an attempt to garner more recognition. Or they might even complain about not being admired by others.
·         Sense of entitlement. NPDs have an air of entitlement. They wrote a book and therefore it deserves to be published. It doesn’t matter what the quality of the writing is or the subject matter, all that matters is that they did it and it must be good or right. Anyone who refuses to give them what the NPD believes they deserve, will be bashed.
·         Automatic compliance with their expectations. In writing, this often comes across as demands that the NPD expects exact compliance. “You must do…” are common phrases indicating that there is no allowance for a difference of opinion or point of view.
·         Takes advantage of others. This is usually done in the form of blaming others for things that have gone wrong with the NPD. NPDs won’t accept responsibility for their actions, reactions, or responses. By placing the blame on others in their writing, they are passively-aggressively tossing the buck.
·         Lacks empathy. NPDs often expect empathy for themselves but refuse to extend it to others. In writing this can come across as playing the role of victim as an effort to garner sympathy. However, NPDs will see others attempt as gaining sympathy as weakness.
·         Believes others envy them. Statements like, “They are jealous of my ability to …” are typical responses especially when the NPD feels criticized. Sometimes the comment is more subtle or passive-aggressive in nature, especially when it is a writing that a superior might see.
·         Arrogance. This is pervasive throughout the writing with no apology for their arrogance. There might be some slight sign of humility or remorse of it but is surrounded by countless attacks directed at other people. These assaults are intended to create a diversion to their narcissism.

Once a person knows the signs of a narcissist, they are easy to spot. It is apparent not just in verbal communication or body language but in their writing as well.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Try This One Change with a Passive-Aggressive

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

One of the most frustrating experiences is to live or work with someone who is constantly passive-aggressive (PA). Their refusal to accept responsibility even for the most minuet things is aggravating. At home or work, there is a constant flow of tasks needing completion which are outside normal expectations. PA’s will not take the initiative and they refuse to see that the task needs to be done in the first place. When they finally agree to completing a task, it is rarely on-time, it lacks the quality they are capable of performing, and there is no added creative value.
However, when a PA decides they are going to achieve some level, they shine. This is perhaps because the expectations for their performance are already reduced to lower levels based on previous experiences. Or it could be that they conserve all of their energy by not doing other things so that they have more energy supply to complete what they want. Or it could be that unless they make the commitment, it won’t happen. Supposing that the last argument is the reality, here is the one change a person can do to motivate a PA.

Out passive their passive-aggressiveness. The natural initial reaction is that nothing will ever get done this way. Think for a moment about what methods have already been tried and failed:

  • ·         There is the bulling tactic where the PA is forced into doing something because, “I said so.” This rarely works because the PA will just highlight the other person’s aggression as an excuse to set some arbitrary boundary and therefore not do the task. In fact, many times the PA will incite a person into some sort of rage just to use their behavior as justification for non-performance.
  • ·         There is the cognitive argument tactic. In this case, the other person makes a case similar to a lawyer in a court room outlining all of rational reasons for the PA to complete the task. The person strings the PA along by asking them to agree to smaller points in an effort to get them to concur with the bigger picture. But when the final point is made, the PA will not agree and begin to poke holes in the argument. This conversation usually takes so much time that the other person decides that it is not worth the effort.
  • ·         There is the consequence/reward method. This is similar to an elementary school environment where a student receives a sticker or reward for good behavior. When the behavior is poor, the consequence is no play time. Unfortunately, most PA’s have learned how to outsmart this method at a very early age.  By internally saying they don’t like stickers or having play time, they are now free to do whatever misbehavior they want.
  • ·         Last there is the emotion plea. This is frequently done in the form of a guilt trip. The other person tries to guilt the PA into performing an action by saying, “I wish someone would do this task for me like Karen does it for Joe.” The usual response from the PA is, “Why don’t you get Karen to do it for you.” Again, the PA has not acknowledged the responsibility and has instead tossed it onto someone else.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein 

How to out passive a PA. This is not about not having a conversation; rather it is about changing the manner of speech. Here are the steps:

  • ·         Step 1: Begin with the end in mind. Before the conversation starts, know exactly what point needs to be made. For instance, a person wants a website design to be completed. This is the goal of the discussion.
  • ·         Step 2: Don’t begin the conversation talking about the other person’s wants. Using the above example, don’t even talk about the website; rather make small talk in order to gain some commonality. Be sure to ask a few questions about the PA’s feelings on other matters completely unrelated to the topic.
  • ·         Step 3: Use one area of commonality to demonstrate empathy. This is the disarming step for the PA. When the PA senses an empathic response, they let their guard down.
  • ·         Step 4: Hint at the website. This can be done by saying, “I know you have so much on your plate right now, is there anything I can help you with?” This opens the door for the PA to bring up the subject of the website. If they do, they now own it and step 5 can be completed. If they don’t, repeat steps 2-4 but only do this once. If they still won’t own it, stop the conversation and resume it another day.
  • ·         Step 5: Ask open-ended questions. Do not ask leading or close ended questions which are limited to a one or two word answer. Rather, after they have brought up the website say, “Tell me more about how things are going.” This invites the discussion. Resist the temptation to direct the conversation, make suggestions, or take over the website project. Be vague in answers and responses. This forces the PA into accepting some sort of responsibility.
  • ·         Step 6: Be satisfied with whatever is accomplished. Small steps for a PA are better than no steps at all in the form of resistance.

Remember, this article is for PA’s and should not be used for other personalities. It can be quite dangerous to use this procedure with someone who is on the sociopathic scale because they will use the opportunity to take further advantage. Other personalities might become annoyed at the process and further shut down. But with a PA, this works.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.

What is Emotional Blackmail?

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
Movies love to portray the Inner and outer conflict that arises from being blackmailed, especially when someone’s life hangs in the balance. There is the villain (the blackmailer), the victim (the target), a demand (what is being asked for), and a threat (what negative thing will happen if the victim refuses to comply). But blackmail does not have to be a life or death threat to be real. It can be more subtle than that.
Blackmail. Here are a couple of examples in everyday life. At school, one child says to another, “If you don’t say I’m the coolest, then I’ll beat you up.” In a neighborhood, it is a neighbor threatening to do property damage if turned into the homeowner’s board. At the office, a co-worker who knows some private personal information threatens to use it against another in exchange for a small fee. This type of blackmail has some sort of physical or tangible harm attached.
Emotional Blackmail. This is a bit different. The threat is not tangible, rather it is emotional. Susan Forward and Diane Frazier (Forward and Frazier, 1997), coined the acronym FOG (fear, obligation, and guilt) to describe the three main emotions a blackmailer uses against a victim. Because the threat is not tangible, the villain can easily claim no responsibility. Their logic is that if the victim did not feel fear, obligation, or guilt then they wouldn’t be able to blackmail them. The target gives into the demand because they don’t want to experience the negative emotion. This is often cyclical and can build in intensity as the threats are effective.
Fear. In order for a blackmailer to be successful, they must know what the target fears. This fear is often deep rooted such as fear of abandonment, loneliness, humiliation, and failure. These fears tend to be unique in intensity to individuals so one person may not perceive that a threat is being made while another one is mortified. The allows the villain to have some additional cover in their deception. A common threat is “If you don’t do this,” the blackmailer will leave the relationship, isolate the victim from friends, ridicule the victim in front of family, or expose some past failure.
Obligation. This is a favorite blackmail tactic of most addicts. In order for an addict to justify their addiction, they need to blame others. This refusal of accepting any responsibility for their behavior translates into projecting responsibility onto others. Thus, emotional blackmail through obligation is born. The victim, who is usually the enabler, repeatedly falls into this trap hoping that by doing what is asked, the villain will stop. However they don’t, it just escalates. Here are a couple of examples. “I won’t need to look at porn if you gave me sex.” “If you kick me out of the house, I’ll be forced further into my addiction (or some criminal activity).” “If you don’t take the fall for me, I’ll wind up losing my job (in prison, homeless, or dead).”
Guilt. This type of emotional blackmail is more commonly known as “guilt-tripping.” Unlike the other two categories, this one has a mutual negative threat attached to the villain. The threat is designed to make the victim feel guilty for causing some negative outcome to the blackmailer. Many times the guilt is implied and the demand is not overtly stated. For instance, “You make me feel so angry (rejected, abandoned, or unloved),” “Only a selfish person would do that,” or “If only my life was as easy (good) as yours.” These backhanded remarks leave the victim feeling guilty for causing some pain to the villain. However, the pain does not have to be real for the blackmailer to utilize it, rather it is a projection of the pain the target might feel.

Understanding emotional blackmail is a critical step in eliminating its effectiveness. The next part is harder; the target must stop being a victim. This can be done by ignoring the comments or refusing to cave into the demands.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Power of Balanced Thinking

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
As a natural optimist, I’m great at seeing the glass half full. However, life has taught me that there are times when positive thinking can do more harm than good. For it is through the pain, suffering, hurt, sadness, and discouragement that a person gains strength, character, courage, determination, and perseverance.  
Optimists. It is natural for an optimist to overlook the negative. However, dismissing uncomfortable topics arbitrarily without allowing the opportunity for self-reflection, leads to a lack of awareness. This avoidance can prevent healing in the most inward parts of a person thereby creating an environment where the same root issue resurfaces over and over.
Pessimists. Likewise, it is natural for a pessimist to overlook the positive. But neglecting to embrace even the simple joys in life and feel the emotion can leave a person flat. This type of avoidance can also prevent healing because it seems like life will never get better again.
Balance. There are times when positive thinking is needed but there are also times when negative thinking is beneficial. The concept is to have a healthy weight of both so a person can continue to heal and grow. As with anything, the key is finding a balance between two extremes.
Thoughts. Creating a balance in thinking requires a person to analyze which beliefs are given more value and which are dismissed. The frequency of deliberations is not necessarily an indicator. Rather, it is the opinions that then turn into some emotional response or action that determine the weight. Try to spend just one ordinary day recording thoughts and then mark the ones that had some type of strong reaction. Then evaluate those few to see if there is a balance between positive and negative.
Promises. Throughout a person’s life, there are internal, sometimes external, promises a person makes. They come in the form of, “I will never do that again,” “I will always do that in the future,” or “I’m not going to be like that person.” These pledges are cemented into the subconscious causing a person to react a certain way as if on autopilot. This is especially true when a traumatic event generating an intense emotional response is attached to the phrase. Take some time to discover these promises and write them down. Again, a balance helps to maintain a healthy perspective.
Focus. Ever heard of the phrase, “You are what you eat?” Well, a person is also what they think. It takes mental discipline to put aside unproductive thoughts (these can be either positive or negative), and intentionally focus. Think of the brain as a muscle that needs to be worked on a regular basis. It is exercised through control of what is tossed around and what is tossed out. For some, this is a very difficult task due to attention-deficit, brain injuries, or chemical imbalances in the brain. So be patient if it takes a bit longer than expected.
Distractions. One of the best gifts a person can do is to allow some distractions to naturally happen. This can stop a thought train from going off the rails. Be flexible with simple interruptions as sometimes they are blessings in disguise. Have several intentional diversions available whenever needed to help keep the balance between the positive and negative.
There is great power when a person allows both the positive and negative to transform their thinking. It is like breaths of fresh air when then realize that life doesn’t need to be lived inside one extreme or another.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 

Exhausted and Overwhelmed – Understanding How Technology Can Steal Time and Destroy Focus

By: Dwight Bain

We all do it. We’ve all promised ourselves we won’t waste another hour on social media with mindless escapism, yet another week goes by and the projects pile up because of the need to‘like’ more cute pictures on Facebook.

So how can you protect yourself and your family from losing so much time on social media or the Internet? First, realize it’s happening, and that technology saturation leads to overexposure which only makes it worse, leading to elevated expectations which leads to depressed moods, then the dark emotions of envy over constant comparison and finally exhaustion.

Here are some proven steps to reclaim mental focus during this busy time of year.
1.     Routines – build in healthy routines where you ‘unplug’ from technology to plug into your friends, family and faith.  
2.     Environment – find a way to get you and your family outside. Take a walk, walk the dog, or teach a child how to ride a bike, throw a Frisbee… whatever it takes to be outdoors where you can recharge away from WI-FI
3.     Silence –Deep spiritual connection does not happen in loud noisy places. Spiritual renewal comes in the quiet. Steve Brown from KeyLife Radio Network, ( says it this way, “It is in the silence that He, (Jesus), comes.” So as you get spend quiet time be prepared for a wonderful sense of spiritual peace instead of the chronic multitasking of those who can’t unplug from technology.
4.     Time- especially time spent in real relationship where conversation and connection are the goals, not finding more Pinterest recipes.   
When you practice each of these 4 qualities you will find rest for your soul and you will prevent being overwhelmed and exhausted from technology stress. By the way, did you notice it is easy to remember because it spells out the word, “REST” which is exactly what you need in these hectic times. Unplug and just rest. Your body and your family will thank you.

About the author -  Dwight Bain is a trusted professional with over 30 years of experience in solving complex problems as a counselor and coach. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @DwightBain or like his page to find new inspiration at

Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Primary Purpose of Parenting

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
The primary purpose of parenting is to raise fully functional adults who can take care of themselves and make a positive contribution to society. Generally speaking, this should be accomplished by eighteen. After this age, parents have less verbal influence but can still be a positive role model through actions, not words.
It is with intention that marriage and family are not mentioned. According to Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development, the sixth stage, Intimacy vs. Isolation, does not begin until after eighteen. A person needs the successful outcome of the prior stage first, Identity vs. Confusion, which is realized in the teen years. When an adult understands who they are separate from their family and peers, they can then form a heathy attachment to another person.
Here are ten examples of a fully functional adult. This list is not meant to be inclusive or exclusive; rather it is a spring board for discussion.
1.       Value of hard work. There are many ways hard work can be taught: sports, drama, school, music, chores, and part-time employment are a few examples. The important lesson is that talent will only take a person so far; dedication, devotion, and determination will take them farther. It takes perseverance to struggle through the difficulties of a task to its successful completion. The work however must be done by the child and not the parent in order to gain the full benefit.  
2.      Get along with others. This lesson is generally taught in kindergarten but is forgotten in the tween years. As teens, they tend to segregate into like groups: nerds, jocks, artsy, drama, academics, and other categories. This concept is helpful in the development of peer identity but can create distaste for those outside their group. Parents should reinforce the kindergarten philosophy and downplay the seclusion.
3.      Spend money wisely. This essential element is best taught through modeling. Children who understand that the family budget has been spent and there is no more money between now and the next pay cycle will have an easier time adjusting to their working adult life. Some parents want to spare their children from knowing just how tight things are or how much things cost. This philosophy brings shock and overwhelming feelings the adult-child. Sometimes, the result is a passive-aggressive approach to work/budget where they would rather not do anything at all then have to live without.
4.      Good home economics. It is a shame that most schools no longer teach the basics of good home economics. Rather, the instruction is left to parents who may or may not have healthy habits. By the time a child reaches high school, they should be doing their own laundry, cleaning the bathroom, making their own meals, creating a balanced diet, picking up after themselves, contributing to household chores, ironing their clothes, able to sew on a button, capable of minor repairs, skilled in auto care, purchasing their clothing, and living within a budget. Those who are not taught these lessons tend to retreat home to be taken care of by a parent.
5.      Positive self-care. Most children will experience at least one major crisis, trauma, abuse, death, or accident during their childhood. How these incidents are handled by the parent greatly determines the lessons the child learns about intense emotions such as anger, anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, and inferiority. Positive self-care teaches a child proper management and coping skills for dealing with the difficulties in life. For instance, parents who model the ability to get angry without reacting poorly teach the child proper care. This is not about denying emotions, thoughts or events; rather, it is about a successful expression without harm to self or others.
6.      Set and achieve goals. A good practice at the beginning of the school year is to encourage children to set a personal goal for the upcoming year. Parents should not be the ones to set the goal. A child who achieves a goal they set for themselves receives a much greater satisfaction then those who achieve goals set by others. Parents can however assist the child in breaking down the goal from a year to monthly steps and then to daily actions. This reinforces the concept that goals are only accomplished one small step at a time.
7.      Strong ethical values. This is not about memorizing a bunch of rules or values. It is about understanding the importance of ethics in every aspect of life. There are ethics at school (no cheating), at a store (no stealing), at home (no lying), and in a neighborhood (no destruction of property). For each of these basic values, a child should be instructed in why these guidelines are in place. The words, “because I said so,” are not sufficient in understanding. The lack of direction in this area creates adults who are oppositional or resistant to authority.
8.     History of family. This is not a popular topic in our culture but is extremely helpful in establishing a sense of belonging. For every family, there are cultural or historical aspects that define the family for the better or the worst. Trying to “protect” a child from the bad aspects, disorders, or events of the family tree does not help them. Explaining that divorce, heart disease, depression, addiction, or a personality disorder runs in the family can actually provide relief to a child who might already be experiencing the early warning signs. Of course the positive aspect of a family is equally important such as courage, faith, determination, perseverance, commitment, loyalty, and professions/talents specific to the family.
9.      Spiritual development. All of the answers to faith do not have to be understood at this point. The essential part is that a person realizes they are a small part of a large life in which they are not at the center. Along with this should come knowledge of their own faith as well as a respect for other’s faith. Respect and agreement are two different matters. A person can respect the opinion of someone else without agreeing with them. Parents have a unique position to positively encourage spiritual growth without forcing it on their child.
10.  Giving back. From a social developmental aspect, this generally is not fully realized until much later in life. However, the seeds of giving back to others must be sown early on for generativity in mid-life to stick. This also reinforces the notion that not everyone has exactly the same advantage as others which assists in the development of empathy and compassion. Generosity should not be forced but explained with allowances given to where the child’s heart might be at the moment.

When parents strive to teach their child in these ten items, the child develops a healthy perspective of their world, themselves in the world, and their family. 

 To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 

Married to a Person Who Seems Addicted to Chaos?

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

There seems to be a revolving door of crises at any given time. Just when things begin to slow down, another chaotic moment arises out of nowhere and demanding immediate attention. When the underlying cause is addressed, the spouse claims they have no responsibility for contributing to the disruption. They emotionally site numerous external sources for the problem, some of which are very accurate. And so the pattern continues to repeat.
Is there a name for this? The name “Borderline” is not descriptive of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Rather, the old name of Chaotic Personality Disorder is more characteristic of the erratic behavioral pattern. Unfortunately, the DSM-V uses the name BPD. So what does it look like to be married to someone like this? Here are a few indicators.

1.      Constant fear of abandonment. The spouse makes numerous gestures and attempts to reassure the BPD spouse of their fidelity which work only temporarily. After a period of time, the intense fear of abandonment resurfaces with evidence from past, present, and predicted future behavior as justification for the distress. The BPD spouse does not have to have any rejection or desertion in their past to explain their trepidation. However, if they do, this only adds to the level of intensity.
2.    They love/hate their spouse. The BPD engages in a repetitive pattern of pushing away their spouse and pulling them in closer. They can do this verbally by assaulting, “You are the worst” and then hours later say, “You are the best.” Neither statement is vocalized casually or sarcastically. Rather it is very forceful and convincing leaving the spouse to believe they are headed for divorce.
3.    Can’t separate self from others. This momentary attachment onto others is not always about the spouse. When it is, the BPD is euphoric when the spouse is happy and depressed when the spouse is sad. There seems to be a lack of division in feelings and reaction between the BPD and those around them. However, this does not remain constant. It usually oscillates from a supportive connection to an oppositional response. 
4.    Impulsive, self-damaging behaviors. There is a history of numerous spending sprees (into the thousands), heightened sexual activity, substance use and abuse, random shoplifting, reckless driving, and/or binge eating. Despite any consequences the BPD faced for these behaviors in the past, they continue to engage. The BPD will gladly explain their reasoning as to why the behavior is justified. The spouse will not understand.
5.     Suicidal threats. When the BPD feels backed into a corner or completely overwhelmed, they sometimes threaten suicide. On occasion, they may do self-harming behaviors such as cutting, overdosing, or even attempting suicide. There may be numerous hospitalizations in their history that provide short-term relief.
6.    Extreme and rapid depression, irritability or anxiety. One minute everything seems fine and then the next the BPD spouse becomes instantly depressed, irritable or anxious. This will not go away quickly rather it lasts from a few hours to a couple of days. The trigger event may not be noticeable to the spouse. The BPD has the ability to absorb their environment so literally any negative aspect could be very upsetting.
7.     They say they feel empty. While this is descriptive of a BPD, it is also the most self-aware statement that they could make. Imagine the BPD like a sponge with holes in it. Just like a sponge can absorb milk, water, or other liquids so a BPD can absorb their environment and the people around them. They are only able to do this because of the emptiness they feel inside. Often their mood will accurately reflect what is happening near them.
8.    Rapid escalation of anger. Very quickly the BPD spouse can escalate frustration into rage and go from yelling to hitting. This usually happens when they feel misunderstood, discounted, discarded, rejected, or deserted. The BPD spouse feels every emotion at such an extreme level so when they are attacked, the anger rises instantly as well.
9.    Stress-induced paranoia. When the anger and anxiety are not properly expressed and addressed, the BPD spouse feels overwhelmed, misunderstood, and insignificant. This feeling of worthlessness becomes powerful. In order to counteract those feelings, the BPD develops paranoid thoughts of their spouse or others around them. Once this stage has been reached, it takes an enormous amount of reassurance to reorient them.

All of these indicators can led the BPD to believe the worst is about to happen. The fear of abandonment combined with the intense emotions can make a marriage seem to be chaotic and unstable. It doesn’t have to be this way. The best part of this personality disorder is the ability for it to be managed successfully. Thus, the marriage can survive as well if both parties are willing to work on it.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at