Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Our Life Pathways, by John Wagner

Harville Hendrix makes this observation about marriage. In our society marriage is viewed as choose a mate, climb into a box, settle in and then take your first close look at who you married, stay put if you like what you see. If you don’t like what you see, climb out of the box and scout around for another mate. Whether or not marriage works depends upon your ability to attract a good partner. The common solution to an unhappy marriage is to divorce and start over. Some couples stay in the box, tighten the lid, and put up with a disappointing relationship for the rest of their lives.

Let us propose a more hopeful view of love relationships. Hendrix states, “Marriage is not some static state between two unchanging people; but rather it is a psychological and spiritual journey that, as romantic love began to play a more substantial role in mate selection, begins in the ecstasy of attraction, meanders through the rocky stretch of self-discovery, and ends in the creation of an intimate and joyful lifelong union. Whether you realize the full potential of this vision, depends not on your ability to attract the perfect mate, but on your willingness to acquire knowledge about hidden parts of yourself”. I would add to this a willingness to acquire knowledge about God’s desire for your marriage and yourself.
It would seem that all of us have three pathways which we take through life. Ironically they all seem to relate to the development of romantic love in our lives. If we become more aware of how our pathways were developed while learning more about ourselves, we will be better equipped to connect with God and our partner in marriage.
One pathway we all have is a spiritual pathway. Our internal mandate in this pathway is to be connected. We have an inner desire, as we go through different developmental stages, to be connected to others and when that connection is not there, we feel empty. We may be able to be alone for a while but then the desire for fellowship of some kind enters our thoughts.
This pathway actually begins the moment we are conceived. While in our mother’s womb, we are connected to her floating in an oceanic joy of euphoria. All of our needs were met, food was supplied, and we floated in comfort without any rejection. Some of us did experience at some deep level of our psyche the emotional experiences of our mother. If our mother went through extreme stress or depression, there does seem to be evidence that we are affected even while in our mother’s womb. Not everyone is affected in that way for we are protected in the womb in ways we will not experience for many years.

We were born and our umbilical cord was torn from us and we all begin a lifetime of rejection and woundedness as well as love. Some wounds and rejection were serious and some not so serious. The point is that we all shared an original connectedness with our mothers. Our entire lifetime is a mandate to reconnect to that original wholeness again or that original state of being. There is an inner sense of energy where we are joyful and satisfied. We want that again.
Our real mandate of this spiritual pathway is to be connected with the Father for eternity. When we experience the presence of God through connecting with Him and become the person He wants us to be, we enter a deeper level of our lives through Him. I really believe the depth of our connection with Him will determine our emotional health and also our relational health with our spouse.

God decided that, because of our desire to be connected, He would give us “covenant marriage” while we are on this earth. He recognized that with Adam it was not good for him to be alone. God gave him Eve. A relationship based on a covenant with each other and God where we learn how to love unconditionally, meet our partner’s emotional and physical needs, and grow into spiritual maturity. When we become truly committed to our partners to heal each other, then we will stop the generational curse and raise healed children.
We have the opportunity to choose the blessings or the curses. We can stay under the curse of generations or we can make a decision to be under the blessings and change history.
A second pathway we take through life is our environmental pathway. The internal mandate we are under in this pathway is to survive or stay alive. If we look at the animals in the forest as they sense danger, they go in a fight or flight mode; if the animals are safe, they have a co-creative relationship. Relationships are very similar to this experience. We operate under an unconscious agenda that puts us in fight or flight mode when we experience an event that is unsafe to us both in a life experience or relational experience. If we are emotionally safe in our marriage we experience an environment that is creative and passionate.
Neuroscientist, Paul McLean, in his book, “Man and His Animal Brain” looks at the three layers of our brain and how they work in our everyday lives. One layer is the brain stem which is our source of physical action controlling vital physical systems from reproduction and sleep to blood circulation and muscle response. A second layer is the limbic system. This is the center of our intense feelings such as sadness, joy, fear, anger, anxiety and aggression. The limbic system is a pathway that links the brain stem and the third layer, the cerebral cortex. These first two layers are the source of automatic reactions.

This third layer, the cerebral cortex, is the center of our cognitive functions. It makes decisions, thinks, observes, plans, anticipates, responds, and creates ideas. It is the logical part of ourselves. This cerebral cortex takes in data from the external world through our five senses; eyes, ears, touch, taste, and feel (our skin). This data is sent through neurological pathways to the limbic system and a determination is developed in an instant as to whether this data is safe or dangerous.
Many psychologists think that, what we know as the unconscious mind, is housed in the limbic system. The unconscious mind has no awareness of time or its environment. It would appear that what it does register is feelings. When we experience an event that is frustrating or hurtful, that data is sent to the limbic system and we unconsciously “knee jerk” our behavior into fight or flight mode. We begin to learn these behaviors as we develop from childhood and until healing happens, we usually take them into our love relationships in adulthood. Remember, our unconscious mind has only one mandate and that is to survive. So when we react to our spouse in a hurtful experience, at an unconscious level, we are trying to survive. Of course, we are not walking around saying, “Oh, this is my unconscious agenda happening, so I am going to scream, throw something, slam a door, or leave.” It is called unconscious because we do not experience a conscious awareness of our decisions. Remember, we are spirit, soul, and body. Our soul is our will, emotions, and mind. The reason the generational curse is so important to break and change the cycle is it affects our very soul: our will, emotions, and our mind.
Our third pathway is the connection pathway. Remember, those who influence our lives the most are our parents or caretakers. A caretaker is an individual who was involved in our development and influenced us either in a positive or negative way. There is a socialization part of this process where we learn how to deal with the outside world and a nurturing part where there was either a warmth and availability or a coldness and unavailability of our caretakers. Whether the negative experiences affect us drastically as we develop seem to depend on various factors such as historical timing of our birth, birth order with our siblings, and our genetic disposition which we are born with. Some individuals seem to react to different negative stimulus while others do not.

Remember, we are raised by untutored parents, who were raised by untutored parents, and so on and so on. Because we really are not prepared for parenting (except what our models were as we grew up), we will make many mistakes and be totally unaware of our child’s emotional needs in certain developmental stages. We will give them far more information rather than affirmations as they develop. This is what we experienced as individuals growing up. Caretakers who knew very little of our developmental needs and in many cases failed at meeting them. If we experienced deficit nurturing or a smothering experience, we will most likely take that into our adult love relationships and ultimately into our marriage. That is, of course, unless those negative experiences were compensated for in our development.
If we did not experience this in our own development, it is never too late to change the cycle in the way we parent our own children or even our grandchildren. It is also not too late to become healed as we learn about ourselves, learn relationship skills, and enter a deeper level with God and our spouse through connection.

Written By: John Wagner, As a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist, John is dedicated to helping couples find the relationship of their dreams. He has received his Imago training from author, Pat Love, Ed.D. in Austin, Texas. Pat is the author of “Hot Monogamy” and “The Truth About Love”. John has received required training to become an "Advanced Clinician" in Imago Relationship Therapy. John has also received training from Pat Love in sexual desire issues, and is a workshop presenter for "Hot Monogamy."Prior to becoming a therapist, he and his wife walked through their own marriage crisis. The healing they received from Imago Relationship Therapy inspired a dream of “saving the children” by healing relationships. John had been in the corporate world with companies like Sears, Merrill Lynch, and W. Clement Stones company. His career involved sales psychology training, sales management and executive positions. He traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada doing seminars on helping individuals reach their potential. John has appeared on the Nashville Network talk show. He has had a radio talk show on reaching your potential.His graduate work is through Troy State University of Alabama. His professional affiliations are with the Institute For Imago Relationship Therapy, International Marriage and Family Therapy Association, American Counseling Association, National Board For Certified Counselors, and the Association of Imago Relationship Therapists. John is presently completing his book for couples called “How Do You Keep The Music Playing” and has written the “Love Can Build A Bridge” workbook. He and his wife, Susan, have three children and seven grandchildren and are continuing the journey.

Children and Storm Stress- Building emotional recovery after natural disasters, By Dwight Bain

Monster storms like Hurricanes, Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Floods, Blizzards, Forest Fires and Mud Slides destroy more than communities- they destroy the emotional security and stability in the lives of everyone, especially in our children. Knowing what to do and say will help you to make a positive difference in the lives of children during the process of rebuilding. Here are some key elements to equip you to better serve children who have been emotionally traumatized by natural disasters.

How are children affected? It depends on the age of the child. The younger the child, the more they look to their parents for emotional security and strength. If a Mom or Dad are “shell-shocked" or “numb” and not able to manage their own emotions or responsibilities; the child will feel that pressure and become very confused and further stressed. Remember, it's normal to be overwhelmed by a major natural disaster, which is why it's going to be so important for caregivers to take care of themselves in order to effectively take care of your children through the long period of recovery and rebuilding after the storm.
When you can focus and dedicate attention to the needs of the child, notice what they are saying, drawing or doing to determine if they are still feeling overly stressed from the storm. School age kids need to talk, draw or take positive action, (like having a lemonade stand to raise money for kids just like them who are now storm victims because their homes were destroyed), so if you give them something to do to help, they can take positive action and sort through their emotions immediately. High school age kids may try to act "cool" about everything, but often are more scared about the changes, losses and confusion than any other group. They are older and may need to experience a bit more "reality" at times to loosen up their ability to talk about what is happening around them. If they are willing to talk to their siblings, or other family members, it won't be long before they can grow strong enough to deal with things in any setting.
Mostly watch for danger signs by noticing any dramatic changes in behavior. If a child was always happy go lucky before the storm and now sits all day to watch video footage of world disasters on the news- then you may want to figure out why they made such a dramatic shift in personality. Watch for other major changes in sleep patterns, school patterns, school performance, peer relations and so on. If you see major changes that concern you, it's time to seek professional attention for the child with their pediatrician or with a child behavioral specialist

What are some ways to help kids talk about storm stress?You can reach out to children in many ways to help them deal with this stressful time of rebuilding after the storm. Talking, writing, drawing, even making up a song about the experience with the hurricanes will make the time pass more quickly, and may even lighten someone else's load of emotional pain and difficulty while helping you back through the process. Some families even play board games like the "worst case scenario," (which is based on actual survival information from a book by the same name). Many of the issues discussed in the game aren't likely to happen to the majority of people on the planet, (such as how to survive a shark attack), talking about any crisis event in life can help kids learn the basics of moving from the panic of basic survival to building strengths through problem solving.

Are there any “hidden dangers” in media that parents should be concerned about that might make storm stress worse?Too much media exposure is dangerous for kids. It is better to get a media "news update" once or perhaps at the most, twice a day to avoid the danger of media over exposure. Leaving the news on all the time will depress the mood of the person who hears it; since deep down inside we learn to go "numb" to the normal emotions of the stressful event, to press on and burn reserve energy in the process. If your child didn't watch the morning news programs before the hurricane hit, be cautious about allowing them to watch TV news alone or having long blocks of unaccounted time with too much isolation. Best is to sort through media outlets-like television, Internet, radio or newspapers, which may contain content that is overly stressful or just too depressing for a child. Then set boundaries to protect them from additional stress in media stories, since it is important to protect their home and minds by managing the media around them.

It's wise to move from negatives to positives in highly charged and difficult situations like this. We have all seen enough negative images to last a life time and things are still being discovered and played back over again and again in media. Also, parents and kids can sit down and discuss why they really need to have so many media and entertainment services available in their homes. Many families found that not having the Internet, cable television and loud music playing in their homes all the time allowed them to reconnect as a family in communication. By sitting down and discussing these issues your home can be a more positive place, with just enough energy to mange the stress of this situation.

Since watching other peoples problems in other parts of the country will cause more stress in an already stressful situation it's better to focus on your responsibilities today, right here in your own community. When things in your life are strong again, you and your kids won't be as affected by the images of crisis from other places. But that's another day, so for now, just focus on getting you and your kids though the day that we have been handed without making it harder because of the hidden stress of media overexposure.

Is it okay to talk about what happened to our family with others?Silence is not golden in a critical incident, rather, it's dangerous. One of the best things that you can do to help yourself and help others is to tell your story. Talk about where you were when the storm came through. Talk about how you and your loved ones made it through the crisis to the other side. Keep talking and make it a point to listen carefully as you hear the stories of others who survived this terrible storm. This is important for everyone involved, kids, grandparents, Mom, dads, employees, employers, firefighters, police officers, nurses, teachers, students and on and on. Everyone has a story about how they got through these killer hurricanes and telling it will help them heal and may give you a new chance to connect with your family, neighbors and coworkers in a powerful way. Also, don't miss asking your own pastor, priest, rabbi, or spiritual authority since many times these professionals are so busy listening to the needs of others, they neglect to take time to reduce the stress that they feel.

The ‘lone ranger’ mentality eventually leads to someone becoming the ‘lonely ranger’ because you can't get through a crisis alone, nor should you try. We need each other more than ever to successfully manage crisis events like these natural disasters. Another reason why this is so important is that viewing the destruction firsthand, (obviously in age appropriate ways), is one of the best ways to allow children to see how dangerous storms can be. And the most important reason to model this behavior to our younger kids is because they learn from their earliest childhood that families who stick together through the entire process can get through it better and faster than those who go it alone.

Think about the advice given on commercial airliners to parents traveling with small children. “Should there be an unexpected cabin de-pressurization; oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. Place the mask over your nose and mouth and then place the mask over the mouth and nose of those around you needing assistance.” Take care of your own emotional needs first, and then you will be in a stronger position to help those around you. If you feel overwhelmed in giving your children or others who may depend on you for support, please ask for help. It's okay to be tired, worn out and overly stressed. That's normal for a situation like this one. However, it's not okay to ignore caring for the needs of those counting on you like children, the elderly or pets. Sometimes a parent may need to make adjustments at work or change their own schedules for a while by delegating some tasks in order to have time and energy to help their children avoid feeling more pressure because of this difficult time. If you feel that your caregiver tank is empty, let someone else help you for a while until you get your strength back. That's best for you and for those that you care about.

Dwight Bain Bio:Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Professional member of the National Speakers Association and Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Access more life coaching strategies at www.DwightBain.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Connection Conniption ~ Understanding Adjustment Disorders in Teenagers, by Aaron Welch, LMHC

What are some ways I can know that my teenager is having a hard time with adjustment?

* A noticeable change in grades
* When teens isolate themselves (headphones all the time, hide in their room, avoid family time)
* Attempts to "escape" (video games, books, pornography, etc...) instead of connect.
* Behavior changes: getting into trouble at home or school
* Outbursts of anger or frustration
* Depression: decreased interest in activities they usually like, low motivation, etc.
* Self-mutilation: "cutting", excessive piercings,
* Substance abuse
* Sexual activity
* Suicide attempts

Watch closely for signs that your teenager is completely pulling away from family relationships. All teenagers long for independence from family to some extent, but if the isolation becomes excessive then you need to reach out to them in a loving and direct way. Teenagers will resist these advances but don't take that personally. They truly need this time of connection with you.
Remember that the pressure to fit in socially is high for teenagers. At the same time, self-esteem and confidence is often low for many teens. The combination of these two factors makes many teenagers vulnerable to bad choices and lifestyles.

Why is Central Florida such a difficult place to adjust to for teenagers?

* Cultural differences: there are so many races and cultures represented here in Central Florida. There are hundreds and thousands of people that move here every month from diverse cultures. Because of differences in values, religions, and traditions it takes time to really "connect" with others. Remember, many people feel a sense of security based upon the three factors mentioned above and connecting to people who are different in these areas can feel emotionally "risky".

* Lack of roots: People move in and out of Central Florida at an amazing rate. Because of this, the sense of stability that people long for is difficult to find.

* Cost of living: Because it is expensive to live here, it forces people to compensate. Often, both spouses have to work and many people have to work at more than one job just to survive. This dynamic can lead to emotional consequences.

Look at it this way:
We are busier than ever: we don't have TIME to connect.

We are more tired than ever: we don't have the ENERGY to connect.

We are out of our comfort zone: we don't know WHERE to connect.

* This tendency to work more also affects how quickly or easily your teenager connects. If a parent is tired from working, it is more difficult for them to maintain strong relationships with their teenagers. What can parents do to help their teenagers adjust in a healthy way?

* Persistent Love: I use that word because teenagers often act as if they don't want to be close to parents or they act as if they do not need them. This could not be farther from the truth. Teenagers need the love and guidance that only parents can offer. So don't give up!

* Healthy and consistent boundaries: Of course, teenagers resist this strongly. The key for parents is to establish reasonable boundaries and then ALWAYS enforce them. Parents must be the stable force in the lives of their children. If boundaries change based on how tired or upset the parent is, teenagers do not have a sense of security that they need.

* Time: Teenagers need for parents to take the time to spend with them. Even if it is 30 minutes a day, teens will not feel "forgotten" or lost in the shuffle.

* Honest Listening: Oftentimes, teenagers feel that parents do not understand them nor do they WANT to understand them. Teenagers are facing some of the most difficult challenges in their lives. They also are changing and growing into adulthood. They need parents who truly LISTEN as much (or more) than LECTURE.

* Relationship with Christ: Parents need to model this kind of spiritual growth. Teens need Christ so much, especially when they are struggling to adjust. Parents can also help their teens to plug into a church youth group where they can gain a support system.

Aaron Welch Bio: He is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has devoted his life to reaching out and helping people to grow and mature through difficult life situations. Whether it has been through clinical counseling, pastoral ministry, youth camps and conventions, public speaking, leadership training, educational instruction, athletic coaching or small group ministry, Aaron has over eighteen years of experience in assisting people through life struggles and personal growth. His genuine love for people and his outgoing personality combine to create a safe and caring environment for putting the pieces of life back together.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

~ Intimate Connections ~ Understanding the tender & tough sides of a growing relationship, By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor

Have you ever noticed that some couples can quickly move from being fired up with romantic passion for their partner to acting like a bully-boss who just wants to passionately fire them like a needless employee. It’s no wonder that people are more cautious about opening up their hearts to another person, because they have likely witnessed the process of intense romantic chemistry quickly eroding into hateful rejection and ugly conflicts. Everybody talks about wanting a relationship where they are loved and accepted, yet few are willing to take the chance of being hurt again, which makes it easy to wonder, “Is an intimate relationship even possible anymore?” and if so, “How do you get one?”

Intimacy is about seeing into someone’s heart and mind and learning to connect with them in multiple ways to feel close, accepted and loved on the inside, no matter what kind of pressure might be happening on the outside. Listen to the word if it is slowly spoken… ‘In-to-see-me’ since true intimacy is about complete openness, and coming closely together to connect in the most intense ways that God designed for married partners to share over a lifetime of love.

To experience this kind of intense relationship, you need to understand both sides of an intimate connection to grow to a new level of purpose and passion together. These different levels of connection reflect the differences between a cultural view of relationship where romance is the primary goal; and a Christian view of marriage where learning to connect together through the realities of daily life is joined alongside romance to build intensity, regardless of the circumstances. You need both sides to make your relationship go the distance from short term infatuation to build long term success in your marriage.

This relationship exercise is designed to guide you through the process of identifying strengths and weaknesses so you can develop more closeness in every area of intimacy. Simply score your relationship on how well connected you believe it to be in each of the twenty areas listed below.

There are four types of connection possible for each type of intimacy- Strong, Weak, Nonexistent or Untested/Unknown. Score each type of intimacy using the following:

Strong- draw a circle around an area that is well connected, perhaps 50-95% of the time
Weak- underline areas that are weakly connected, perhaps 5-50% of the time
Nonexistent- place an “X” in front of areas that are never to barely connected or full of conflict
Untested/Unknown- place a “?” in front of areas that you are unsure of in your relationship

(These are the softer sides of relationship which may feel fun, exciting or fulfilling)

Sexual- connecting physically through the stages of flirting- foreplay- sexual union and after-play

Emotional- connecting through feelings, moods, attitudes or being on the same wave-length

Intellectual- connecting through the world of current events in news, blogs, magazines or books

Educational- connecting through shared learning experiences in classes, seminars or workshops

Aesthetic- connecting through experiences of beauty in fine art, craftsmanship, antiques or nature

Creative- connecting while sharing ideas about designing or developing projects together

Recreational- connecting through shared sports, hobbies, exercise, travel or theme parks

Social- connecting through parties or events at work, church or with friends & family

Entertainment- connecting through music, TV, films, concerts, dining or shopping

Humor- connecting through shared laughter, giggles, comedy or silliness in any situation

How did you do? Count up the number of types of intimacy in each tender category you scored.

_____ Strong areas of connection _____ Weak areas of connection
_____ Nonexistent areas of connection _____ Untested/Unknown areas of connection

Now score your relationship in the areas of tough connection, which are more about daily responsibilities and disciplined choices than ‘warm fuzzies’. Measuring which type of connection best describes the intimacy you experience in these areas using the same scoring process.

Strong- draw a circle around an area that is well connected, perhaps 50-95% of the time
Weak- underline areas that are weakly connected, perhaps 5-50% of the time
Nonexistent- place an “X” in front of areas that are never to barely connected or full of conflict
Untested/Unknown- place a “?” in front of areas that you are unsure of in your relationship

(these are the harder sides of a relationship which may feel boring, difficult or challenging)

Work- connecting through common tasks, daily chores & responsibilities at home or in career

Time- connecting together with scheduling, planning, clocks, calendars or daily routines

Financial- connecting through shared values on budgeting, spending, saving or investing goals

Caregiving or Co-parenting- connecting through shared responsibility to care for others (or pets)

Conflict- connecting through differences in strongly held beliefs with mutual respect or admiration

Crisis- connecting through problems, pressures or painful events, especially in reaching out to others

Commitment-connecting through the shared belief of honoring marital vows as sacred promises

Spiritual- connecting through shared religious traditions, beliefs, ethics, values & worship styles

Communication- connecting verbally or nonverbally to share the ‘real you’ or listening to your partner

Trust- connecting through shared feelings of respect, honesty, integrity or confidence in your mate

How did you do? Count up the number of types of intimacy in each tough category you scored.

_____ Strong areas of connection _____ Weak areas of connection
_____ Nonexistent areas of connection _____ Untested/Unknown areas of connection

?Notice the differences between the two types of Intimate Connection:

Tender Connection is about Romance & Chemistry

Media images tend to define the ultimate degree of love as feeling happy with that person you are spending time with right now instead of investing into a partner for life
If you only have a tender connection in your relationship, it leaves a potential gap open for a married person to essentially function as a ‘single person’ with the mindset of serving self over their spouse, resulting in a person feeling very, very alone. (View this as the ‘Me-My-I” mindset of the self-absorbed or pleasure seekers that avoid taking responsibility for their behavior or blame shift problems away from their selfish decisions to find a reason to show that it’s really your fault that they are the way they are or do the things they do.)

Tough Connection is about Reality & Consequences

Biblical images of defining the ultimate degree of love as choosing to reach out to build a long term relationship as married “Partners” during the fun or frustrating times of life
If you have included the reality of a tough connection in your relationship, it closes the gap of being a self-serving or single person in the marriage, since the mindset and goal is of building marital unity. (View this as the ‘We-Us-Our” mindset of building a relationship together with each person taking ownership and responsibility for their part of the marriage as they serve and give to one another in love )

Improving your bottom line score: No matter your score on these levels of intimate connection, it can improve if you decide to work on it together. Ask your mate their ideas as you both develop a game plan of ‘hot buttons’ areas to avoid because they most often explode; as well as considering the areas that always work well so you can ‘overload’ on it together as you build back some fun and positive momentum into your marriage. Plus, you could build an intimate connection through creative ways that aren’t listed on the evaluation above, for instance through helping others through a non-profit group like “Habitat for Humanity”, co-leading a support group at your local church, helping to coach a child’s little league team together, redecorating or painting a room together, or becoming involved through the common connection of shared community or spiritual values, (like Toys for Tots or working together as foster parents for abused kids). The key issue is to take action to enjoy your relationship as the best part of your day, instead of the worst as you experience the blessings that come from a well connected marriage relationship full of intimacy on every possible level.
Remember, if you get stuck and want to ask a question to stabilize or solve repetitive areas of conflict, you can always contact a professional Christian Counselor at the LifeWorks Group, 407.647.7005 or confidentially send an email to any of their team of experts at LifeWorksGroup.org

Build intimacy into your relationship with a combination of these important factors-
? TRUST- the foundation of every form of every relationship at every stage of life
? TIME- the easiest way to show that you love someone is by taking time for them and with them
? TALK- sharing ideas, information and insights about any topic is essential to draw close
? TOUCH – healthy relationships are safe places of caring expressions of physical closeness
? TENDERNESS- gentle expressions of affection through emotions, words or actions
? TOGETHER – developing companionship by sharing in any activity to draw closer as a couple
? THEOLOGY –growing together in what God’s Word teaches about healthy relationships
? TRADITIONS- reaching back to see what traditions were safe, connected and meaningful

Dwight Bain Bio: Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Professional member of the National Speakers Association and Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Access more strategic Life Coaching Strategies as well as practical Counseling Resources at: http://wwwLifeWorksGroup.com/

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mean Girls- Understanding the psychological issues behind Mother/Daughter Conflict

Moms & girls. They can’t stand to be apart- or just can’t stand each other. One of the most complex, challenging, confusing as well as rewarding and meaningful relationships in life can be found between mothers and their daughters. This psychological tension could occur early as early as childhood or be delayed until the teen years, and in extreme cases create problems for decades. At its worst, the friction and fights generated by these conflicts can destroy a relationship for good and even ripple into breaking a family apart.

Understanding what is causing the conflict in a home is the beginning of solving the problem. When a young woman is engaged in a major power struggle with her mother their home moves from a safe place to a war zone that can spin dangerously out of control.

The five most common conflict styles girls may experience during the journey to becoming a young woman are listed below. Once the traits are identified that describe the tension in your home, use these parenting strategies to directly cope with conflict so you can bring peace back to your home again.1) KIA- Know it all'sMethod: Showing disrespect through continual arguments to degrade and discredit their mother as an authority on anything- especially being a parent (Boss)Mood: Ccritical, harsh, bossy, aloof with continual verbal battles, (Mood worsens as Moms attempt to confront behavior).Message: "I'm in control of my life, you can't tell me what to do- so don't even try. Wake up and smell the coffee Mom- because you're an idiot."Motivation: (Arrogance from Self-Authority) 2) Drama QueensMethod: Dressing like a fully "grown up" woman with sophistication on the outside; while underneath acting like a spoiled little girl with self-serving behavior (Princess)Mood: Changes instantly with no predictability. Weepy and screaming one minute, then brooding or giggly the next. Loud with continual demands for more things to satisfy their driven desire of entitlement.Message: "You owe me, so buy me whatever I want to look like I just stepped out of a clothing catalog. I'm scared to grow up, so watch out, my insecurity means that the next mood swing is in two minutes!"Motivation: (Adult Acting for Approval)3) Tough ChicksMethod: Attacking mom with aggression and meanness to push her away or continually punishes her; even though mom is likely the closest person in the world to her. (Bully)
Mood: Violent, dark, hateful, spiteful, bitter or extreme. Use of street talk or other gutter behavior to hurt Mom. This includes any loud behavior, music, partying, body piercing, tattoos, dressing gothic, or whatever will tick off their mom's the most.Message: "Get the *#*&%* out of my way you sorry *#%&*. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! Please don't ever leave me!"Motivation: (Attacking to win Agenda)

4) Lost Girls
Method: Driven for acceptance, particularly from guys, while taking their relationship with mom for granted. (Note- this behavior is often tied to the absent father syndrome). (Chameleon)
Mood: Nice, naughty, needy or seductive, codependent, compliant, fearful, clingy, never really shows her identity because she doesn't know who she is.
Message: "I'll do whatever a guy wants me to do or be whoever he wants me to be, as long as he doesn't let me go!"
Motivation: (Acceptance from Anyone who cares)
5) Good GirlsMethod: Dodging mom with busy activity and "yes ma'am" talk but never letting mom get close enough to see what’s going on
(Kiss up)Mood: Distant, casual, deception, passive-aggressive, socially focused, career driven, flirty, hides her hurt and her heartMessage: "I'll play by the rules to keep the peace, but cannot wait to get out of this house and be away from you b-----!"Motivation: (Avoidance through Activity)

Mother/Daughter Conflict Strategy:To connect a daughter into healthy relationships and guide her toward success as a young adult, she needs to receive these five key elements from her mother and father to gain success on her journey to becoming a strong and confident woman.
1) Acceptance- From the people closest to her, who love her no matter what she may have said or done in the past
2) Approval- In spite of her teen insecurities, imperfections, fears and failures, which she often feels like she is drowning in
3) Affection- Gentle, tender, kindness and love from safe people in her family and life. She needs healthy touch now more than ever!
4) Authority- Giving up a self-centered agenda to accept the leading of her parents and other healthy role models as a positive source of guidance, encouragement and support
5) Accountable- Tracking behavior and measurable actions to build responsibility and develop strength of character.

Dwight Bain Bio:Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Professional member of the National Speakers Association and Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Access more life coaching strategies at www.DwightBain.com

Friday, February 10, 2006

How do you motivate people toward making a major change?

Here's the secret... you can't motivate people, (and I've been a motivational speaker for thirty years!), but you can motivate yourself. Here are a few insights to show you the real source of personal power and that is in understanding how Mood influences Motivation.

First principle- Motivation and Mood are connected, with Mood being the primary psychological driver. People can't change until these two internal drives are connected since one fuels the other.

Second principle- Motivation without Mood is a temporary change at best, since the individual stays in a passive state, waiting and waiting on the externals to crank up their energy (think about a cheering session of 'rah-rah/ blah-blah' that pumps up the moment, without creating lasting change).

Third principle- Mood alone without Motivation is like chasing a pleasurable feeling, you might catch it, but not for long. (think of somewhere between the classic rock song lyrics of 'I'm hooked on a feeling" & "wasting away again in Margaritaville").

I've coached people and organizations through massive change with this sequential process to build positive energy to make major change and have seen that it is extremely effective. My mentor and friend John Maxwell taught this to me over a decade ago and now I'm sharing it with you. Try it if you are serious about experiencing change to achieve greater results in your personal as well as professional life.

1) Educate- which is about getting the right information and facts to your head

2) Equip- which is about getting the right skill development and behavior to your hands

3) Empower- which is about getting the right beliefs and emotions to your heart

The power to change comes from the heart first.
Get that right and the head and hands will always follow.

If you want to live a better life today; march toward the things that scare you most and trust that God will guide you past the fear of change as you keep moving in the direction of your dreams.

(Tip: A wonderful example of this process in easily seen in the film, "Last Holiday" with Queen Latifah, as her character is forced to face her fears of dying, which freed her to actually go out and enjoy living. Worth watching if you need get past your fears, or want to use a simple story to challenge a friend or family member to think on a deeper level by talking after the film. This brings the relationship to a deeper level as well, so call this technique, 'film-debriefing' and try it often to let every life experience challenge you toward improvement and strength.)

Dwight Bain Bio:Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Professional member of the National Speakers Association and Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Access more life coaching strategies at www.DwightBain.com

Monday, February 06, 2006

Some people say that gambling is just a game and isn't a big deal- what do you say?

Remember the main difference between the two issues. Games are fun and amusing, while compulsive gambling is about avoiding feelings with addiction.

Every form of addiction comes from the compulsive need to cover up some type of inner pain. While many people think it's easy to stop a behavior like gambling that is used by many people for recreation, entertainment or just passing the time, it's not. Not for a person who is overwhelmed and highly stressed, because it can quickly turn into an uncontrollable desire that can destroy everything good in life.

Addictions are becoming more common and include the compulsive need for alcohol, drugs, sex, spending, food or gambling; all of which can become life dominating at first and then eventually life-destroying.

Here are 4 of the most likely reasons that trigger this driven and destructive psychological force.
Loneliness- which is solved with connected relationships and social interaction
Unfulfilled- which is solved by knowing and living out your life purpose every day
Stressed- which is solved with a change in perspective and increase in life supports
Tired- which is solved by sleep, rest and learning to release control to God through prayer
The more of these psychological triggers a person is experiencing, the more dangerous it can be for them to get involved in potentially compulsive activities like gambling, since it sets them up toward more stress and addiction, instead of the stress-reduction that comes from amusement while playing a game.

Gambling is a big deal, so remember that it is common for someone says they don't have a problem giving up a particular habit to be lying to themselves or you. Be alert for denial or self-justification about behavior when you honestly confront issues and don't be afraid to seek the help of an experienced mental health professional since you can't break an addiction alone. The first step is the hardest, and the most powerful because it's moving in the right direction toward positive life change. Dwight Bain Bio:Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Professional member of the National Speakers Association and Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Access more life coaching strategies at www.DwightBain.com

What emotional & psychological pressures are facing the Gulf Hurricane survivors?

Hurricane Katrina, Rita or Wilma survivors are likely to face what I refer to as a psychological 'storm' as they go through the instability of moving from shelter to shelter, or temporary housing situation to the risk of losing their temporary housing with no options in sight. This 'storm' will bring more than the dangerous surge of wind and water, because it's an on-going storm of financial chaos, hopelessness, despair, anxiety and possible homelessness.

Some people will press on until they discover a new place to call 'home.' Many others are still numb from their life being wiped out over a weekend in 2005 and are just too exhausted to try again.

If it's true that only the strong survive, then some will grow really strong and bounce back fast and we will call them remarkable and heroic. Sadly for the youngest, oldest and most traumatized it will be just the opposite. They will grow weaker and quieter and some will just give up and wait to die and we won't even notice.

That's why I believe it is essential for people of all cultures, faiths and backgrounds to get past the politics of opinion and move forward to show compassion to the weak and wounded any way we can. My colleagues and I have developed a number of psychological coping skills to speed the recovery process in helping people find 'normal' again while rebuilding their life after natural disasters and major crisis events. You can also access trusted relief organizations that have made a positive difference for decades in helping people rebuild stability into their daily life again.

Access dozens of resources at www.StormStress.com where you can find in-depth special reports, useful articles, detailed fact sheets, emotional flow charts and graphics as well as reference links that will help those who want to dig deeper to understand how to spot the most dangerous psychological signs/symptoms, as well as what to do and say to bring stability to those who have lost so much and just need a safe path out of the panic to find peace again.

Here's a positive action to keep your perspective.

Every time you think about the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, Rita or Wilma, I encourage you to pray for the tens of thousands of people who are still struggling to rebuild their lives. I hope that reminder will challenge you to move beyond just reading the news to making a positive difference in the lives of people who may not be able to thank you by praying for their safety, security and comfort. It's the right thing for you as well since being compassionate about others will cause you to be more grateful and less stressed about whatever you are facing in your life today, which will make you stronger to face the changes of tomorrow.

Dwight Bain Bio:Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Professional member of the National Speakers Association and Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Access more life coaching strategies at www.DwightBain.com