Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Child Custody – Don’t Lose Your Kids in the Divorce

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH


Before you begin reading, let’s discuss what this article does NOT address. It does not address any legal issues or offer any legal advice or discuss strategies for getting what you want in a divorce. For that advice, you are better off consulting with an attorney. Rather the focus of this article is on the relational aspects of child custody, the importance of not losing your relationship with your kids and the dangers of losing who your kids are as a result of the divorce.

Relationships are an important part of our lives. Relationships begin when we are born, whether good or bad, and continue through childhood into adulthood. Good relationships strengthen our relationship with others, with ourselves, and with God and have a lasting positive effect. Conversely bad relationships, especially in childhood, tend to have a ripple effect on adulthood negatively affecting our relationships with other, with ourselves, and with God.

A divorce can bring out the worst in people as a union is divided into two separate parts, with each part ending less whole then when the union began. For kids who base their sense of security on the union, this can be devastating. The relationships they trust are now broken and they are unsure of how the new relationship will function.

Child-Custody Relationship. Whatever the agreement, your child will have a new routine. Even if they remain in the same house, the absence of the other parent is new to them. Helping your child to adjust to the routine and custody arrangement is your responsibility, not the child’s. Explain the routine without becoming emotional, blaming the other parent, or causing any tension during the transitions. If you could not get along with your ex during your marriage, this is the time to learn to cooperate for your child’s sake.

Child-Parent Relationship. Regardless of the custody arrangements, your time with your children is just that, your time. Don’t waste your time with other distractions or take your time with your kids for granted. Spend some time finding out what your kids enjoy doing and then do that with them. Ex’s have a tendency to divide into fun parent and disciple parent. Resist the temptation to be either rather creating a healthy balance between the two. This will go a long way to solidifying your relationship.

Child-Child Relationship. No matter how many times you tell your child that the divorce is not their fault, they blame themselves. They also dream of their parents getting back together someday, no matter how far-fetched. To help your child adjust, talk to them regularly about their feelings, being open to hearing the hard things they need to express. This will go a long way in teaching them to cope with their new routine and minimizing the self-blaming.

While the lawyers figure out the custody arrangements, spend your time working on the relational aspects of the new arrangement. Having positive relationships is instrumental to healthy childhood development and in the end, your child will be the one who benefits and does not get lost in the shuffle.

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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Do You Need A Mistress?

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

What? How could you ask such a question? Are you kidding me? Don’t you know that mistresses are evil? While this may be true in some circumstances, I rather prefer the title of “Mistress” and often use it in my communications.

The word originates from the French word “Maistresse” which is the feminine version of the word “Master”. In addition, the “Mrs.” in front of so many female names is actually short for “Mistress”. The definition is of a woman who is in a position of authority, who in control over something or someone. The term later came to mean a kept woman by a married man, but I rather prefer the original meaning and abbreviation.

So what does the original question have to do with the definition of the word “Mistress”? Quite simply put, everything. I imagine that “Mistress” is exactly what God intended when He created Eve. She was created to be a helpmate to Adam, to bear children, to work the land, and to rule over creation alongside her husband. Proverbs 31 describes such a woman who helped her husband, worked outside of the home, raised kids, managed a household, and managed servants. Talk about busy and confident!

In order to accomplish so much, a woman or shall I say mistress needs confidence with a strong sense of who she is and what she is able to do. She knows her limitations and does not let them stop her from accomplishing her goals. She is focused, directed, and strong. Her actions give a hint as to her thoughts which would have to be truthful, positive, and encouraging in order to accomplish so much.

Do you want to be a mistress? Too often however women place their value in what they look like instead of who they are. But looks can be deceiving and unfortunately they can also change over time (even with plastic surgeries). Negative self-talk about body image is pervasive in our culture at any age and while there is value in taking care of you physically, that should not be primary goal or focus of your time and energy. In order to be a mistress, focus your attention instead on your character aspects rather than your physical aspects.

Do you want the mind of a mistress? To develop the mind of a mistress, begin by listing all of the roles you play in life such as mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, Christian, and co-worker. Then list your positive attributes for each role. For instance, as a mother I am loving, generous, and kind. Sort through all of the attributes and focus on three which really define your uniqueness. Then write the three down and carry them with you as a reminder of who you are, replacing the negative self-talk with more positive self-talk. However, all of the positive self-talk discussed will not help a mend a broken heart or relationship. Rather than cover up these hurts with positive self-talk, it is far better to deal with them directly guided by a professional.

Do you want the security of a mistress? There is no substitute for realizing who you are as a part of God’s creation, how your being is part of a larger plan and how you were created with a purpose. A mistress is secure in her position of authority and in her role in life. She does not waste time on being something that she was not designed to be rather she is focused on being the best she can be. There is great security is striving to excel at what God created you to do.

So, I’ll ask again, do you need a mistress in your life? Instead of looking for someone else to be the mistress, you can be that mistress. You can adopt the mind of that mistress and you can claim the security of that mistress. And the next time you add “Mrs.” to your name, you will be doing it with intention and not just out of tradition.


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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Wedding Is Over, Now What…

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

I love weddings but I love strong marriages even more. Once the wedding and celebration is over, the marriage begins but where do you begin? What comes next? Here are ten simple steps that are easy to implement the first day and lay a good foundation for a healthy marriage.

1. You are part of a team now with your coach being God. There really is no point in working against each other, trying to compete with each other, or holding resentment towards each other. Each of these behaviors destroys teamwork. Rather your marriage should be a pattern of working together as members of the same team.

2. Forgiving the small things such as the things that annoy you or frustrate you lays a pattern for forgiving the large things. In every marriage, there will be large things that you will need to forgive and if you have been forgiving the small things all along, the large things become easier.

3. Don’t just remember what you love about your spouse, but regularly communicate it to your spouse. Actually speak the words of what you love about your spouse, don’t assume they know. Even if they do know, hearing the words is a great reminder.

4. Be grateful for the times of want because they tend to strengthen your relationship more than the times of plenty. It is in the times of want that you learn to work together in new ways and develop a healthy dependency on each other. In contrast, the times of plenty tend to increase selfish behaviors.

5. Be intentional about showing your spouse polite behavior, using “please” and “thank-you” regularly. Too often polite behavior is given only for others thinking that we can just “be ourselves” with our spouse. But in the end, this demonstrates a lack of respect for your spouse that can turn into resentment.

6. When you see your spouse after you have been apart, greet them with a hug and a kiss. When you leave your spouse for a period of time, even if it is just for work, say good-bye with a hug and a kiss. These simple acts demonstrate that you don’t take their coming and going for granted.

7. Have at least one special place that the two of you like to visit and reserve it just for you. This means that even when you have children, this place should be just for the two of you. The special memory of this place in combination with regular visits creates an intimacy that only the two of you share.

8. Find a simple act that demonstrates love to your spouse and do it daily. This will require communication to find out what is important to your spouse and then intentionally doing the act even though you think it is silly. This should not be a list of “To Do’s” but rather one small simple act.

9. Be careful how you treat your spouse in public and especially in front of extended family. Making small jabs at your spouse, being sarcastic, or insulting them is hurtful and while they may laugh it off in the moment, resentment can build in the end.

10. Talk about sex with your spouse. Don’t talk about it with your friends, joke about it around the water cooler, or involve your family in any way. Talk to your spouse. Tell them what you like, how you like it, and what you would like to try staying away from any remarks that could be negative.

There is nothing quite like watching an older couple who has been married for a long time still holding hands or gently touching each other. The love they have for each other just oozes out of them; it is something to aspire. While these tips are no guarantee that your marriage will be successful, they can improve your relationship.


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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Not to Say to Your Unemployed Spouse

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Having your spouse out of work for any extended period of time can be stressful especially in an economy where the unemployment rate is the highest it has been in over 20 years. Many unemployed workers are looking for any job whether it is in their profession or not just to cover the bills. In addition, there is also an increase in the number of employees dissatisfied in their work place but afraid to change jobs for fear of an extended unemployment. Talk about stress.

Added to that stress is the normal stress of a marriage relationship. As if there wasn't enough to be stressed about in a marriage with mortgages, finances, kids, in-laws, bills, minimal cash flow, lack of communication and decreased sex drive; now add to that the stress of unemployment. These are the kind of stressors that can make or break your marriage relationship, but this is precisely the time that the vow "For better or for worse" was intended.

It is hard to know what to say to friends during difficult times because it can literally make or break a friendship. But if you say the wrong thing to your spouse during this time, it can paralyze them for days of inactivity precisely when activity is needed. Even when you try to be encouraging, it can sometimes come across as patronizing. But by looking at what not to say, you can minimize the damage. Here is a bit of humor at what not to say to your spouse during these times.

1. The grunge look ended in the 90's.
2. How many Star Gate episodes are you up to now?
3. Did you do anything today?
4. Didn't you wear that yesterday?
5. My headaches will go away when you have a job.
6. Here is your "To Do" list to do.
7. Did you get a job yet?
8. I knew this would happen.
9. I see why you were let go.
10. You can always go work for my dad.

A better approach is to put yourself in their shoes and be more loving in your comments. After all, unemployment has a way of making even the most secure person insecure for a period of time. While your spouse may seem unmotivated, unfocused, and unproductive for a period of time, this is a normal reaction to unemployment. Instead of the above comments, try words of encouragement, a kind gesture and an act of service which are far more productive in the end than nagging or complaining.



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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What to do When You Lack Motivation

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Ok, admit it. Some days you completely lack motivation to do the things you know need to be done. It’s not like you don’t know what needs to be done or lack something to do; it’s that you have zero desire to do it. In fact if you lined up all the things that need to be done you could actually spend your entire vacation time doing them and the list still would not be complete.

There are clothes in the washer than need to be moved to the dryer so they won’t get mold on them and have to be washed again, but you still don’t do it. There is a report you have to complete and a pending deadline all too soon but nothing you write makes sense. There is a crack in your windshield that has been there for days, weeks, months or dare I say years but you have not gotten it fixed. There is a friend you know you should contact because they are going through a rough time and you love them dearly but you dread the conversation. Or there is my personal favorite, you know that it is time for an annual check-up (truth be told that time was really five years ago) but you won’t make the appointment.

Sound familiar? Having read more self-help books and listened to more motivation talks than you can remember still is not helping you to do the very thing you don’t want to do. So instead of following an old slogan like “Just do it”, try this instead.

Rest. Maybe you are burned out and just need some rest. Take one day off and do something fun to rejuvenate yourself.

Play. Play with a toy, a game, or go to a park. Just distracting yourself can be helpful.

Draw. Did you ever doodle or draw as a kid? Try doing that and see where your mind takes you.

Phone. Call a friend (not the one you have been dreading) but another one that makes you smile.

Encourage. Try to encourage someone else and be helpful to them. Taking the focus away from yourself for a while is useful.

Laugh. Watch an old sitcom that makes you laugh out loud. Laughter is good for the soul.

Thanks. Give thanks to God for the blessings in your life. Don’t put in a request, just be thankful.

Change. Go for a walk, take a drive or go to a different room, do something to change your environment. Sometimes this alone is helpful.

Exercise. When you are unmotivated to do other things, exercise seems like a good excuse. Use it to push your body and cleanse your thoughts.

Think small. Just doing one small step of your task list or project can be enough to inspire you to complete the larger item.

The bottom line is that doing something is better than doing nothing, even if that something has nothing to do with your “To Do” list. When you are not motivated to do the things you need to get done, just doing a little thing can make a big difference in the end.

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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Foundation On Which We Build Our Lives

By Jennifer Graham, MS, IMH


“Are you telling the truth?”


You might be able to recall the childhood memories associated with this question! Let me portray perhaps an all too familiar scene:


Johnny: “Mom! Jimmy hit me!

Jimmy: “Did not!”

Mother: “Jimmy, are you telling the truth? Did you hit your brother?”



Little Jimmy is caught in a moment; a host of thoughts fill his mind: “Great, here I am again. If Johnny was tougher I wouldn’t be in this mess! Technically it wasn’t hitting… my hand just brush against him with unusual strength! I have really been giving it my all in P.E. class. This is just like Johnny to open his big mouth. No, I didn’t hit my brother, Mom, maybe Johnny is not telling the truth…”

The reality is that Jimmy did in fact hit his brother but he struggles in his mind and emotions about stepping forward in what is true. He expends his whole mental process because there is something that he thinks is greater and is attempting to protect and/or hide.

You have heard it said, “Honesty is the best policy.” That sounds great on paper, but it is a challenge to live it out in the real world and in our own personal lives. I find it interesting that even within the Ten Commandments that God set in place to govern our lives and protect us we find these simple words:


“Do not lie.”


If the God of the Universe would deem it of high importance to make an emphasis on the value of speaking the truth, it would be appropriate to examine its position in our lives. Ok, sure, some lies are bad or we shouldn’t tell “big” lies. You might even see some of the negatives to lying. Perhaps you need no re-evaluation of the significance and power of lies. “If I start with one lie, I have to keep the cycle going…” or “I might be in the clear for now but then I become fearful of the truth getting out, or someone finding it out.”

Something as basic as knowing what is true, speaking what is true and walking in what is true is foundational, and has extreme impact in your life. In fact, perhaps a great deal of your pain, sadness, anxiety and frustrations are stemming from a lie that looked appealing and that you thought to be true. This is what occurred: you made an external or internal interpretation of information from an event or self dialog; you adopted it as “truth” and began laying it as a foundation for the way you live.

There is a great difference between the foundation we know to build our lives on and the actual foundation we are stand on. Are you standing on a truth or a lie?


“God doesn’t care about me or He wouldn’t have let _______ happen.”

“No one likes me. I feel unlovable.”

“If I could just get the new iPod, I would be ok.”


Have you ever had thoughts similar to these fill your mind? Perhaps “truths” as stated above have been like an unwanted weight or burden to you throughout your life. If you think about it you can notice that these “truth” statements are highly dependent on personal interpretation of God, yourself and others. This means of interpreting truth has been in practice for a long time well before any altercations with siblings and parents occurred. I find that this type of truth interpretation tends to happen when your life focus is centered on you and those around you and generally in a negative light, causing frustration, sadness or anger. Is it possible that your life focus has been misplaced, resulting in the persistence of these emotions?

Have you considered that your life focus is reflective of where your foundation lies? If you glean just one grain of truth from these words, know this: That place where your foundation lies develops roots into your soul and produces growth with determines how you interpret what is truth.

Where does your foundation lie?





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Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

Day Job? – or – Dream Job?

A career mapping strategy to create positive change

By Dwight Bain, Certified Life Coach and Nationally Certified Counselor


Most people don’t realize that we actually spend more hours of our life working than any other single activity. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know where you fit in your career, because if you are drifting and feel lost in your career, you literally are drifting and letting life slip through your fingers. I believe in a process where you can map out your ‘DAY JOB’ (responsibly working to meet your obligations), on the way to your ‘DREAM JOB’ (doing what you were born to do).


Day jobs pay the bills, and dream jobs fulfill the deep desires of the heart to live out your purpose. And since most of us won’t start in a ‘dream’ job, it’s important to know how to strategically move forward with career direction to leverage your ‘day jobs’ into living out our destiny, by working at activities that are so meaningful and fulfilling that it almost doesn’t seem like work. Is this possible? Yes it is. You see, I believe God designed you with a greater purpose than you may be experiencing right now. Guiding you forward in living out that purpose is one of the passions of my heart because I love to see people move from career stress to experience career satisfaction.


The loss of satisfaction in work isn’t news; in fact the majority of people going to work today aren’t happy about it. It’s sort of like the bumper sticker I saw once that said, “I pretend to work and they pretend to pay me.” A recent survey reported that almost 8 out of ten US workers go to jobs every day that they don’t like or don’t feel well equipped to do. I suspect that one area of frustration fuels dissatisfaction in the other.


Moving past this frustration is important for your health too. Research published by the Gallup Management Journal found that almost 80% of workers felt stress on the job, and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. 26% of workers said they were 'often or very often burned out or stressed by their work'. Could this massive work-related stress stem from being in the wrong job? I believe it is a leading factor in why so many people are stressed or burned out. (And this stress eventually affects both physical and mental health).


When you don’t know where you fit at work then you are set-up for tremendous stress and disappointment which ripple into every other area of life. Conversely, if you know where you fit, you life just got better and it will show in the joy on your face when it’s time to get up and go to a job that you love. When you know where you fit on your career path, you enjoy life more and worry less. So how can you tell if you are in the wrong job or the right one? One way is to take the checklist below to review the key career areas to see if you have more job fulfillment or just a lot of job frustration as you begin your search for answers.


Career Roadblocks-


___Weak or wimpy managers

___Little or no chance of career advancement

___Low or no company benefits

___Continual job stress

___Continually forced overtime

___Boring work

___Feeling burned out

___Continually feeling overwhelmed by work

___Too long of a daily commute

___Career is out of balance with rest of life

___Not trusted by leadership

___Others are passing you by

___Not empowered or equipped

___Forced to do meaningless tasks

___Low pay, low benefits

___Constant complaining about money

___Given too much responsibility

___Absent leaders who don’t lead

___Mean or abusive managers

___Hostile work environment- bad bosses

___Low or no employee morale

___Lone wolf syndrome vs. team approach

___No validation of progress

___No job stability or security



There is great power in having a road map to understand how to reach your ‘dream job’. Think about how valuable it would be to have a detailed chart that maps out the combination of your unique life experiences with your education and skill set. Once you know your personal strengths, interests, motivations in combination with your personal career journey then you are literally set up to win at work; while experiencing positive change and growth on your way to a new level of career success. This information is valuable for students and seasoned professionals since it protects the limited resources of time and money in how to focus on the job to achieve fulfillment in life.


Here’s your first Career Coaching Goal to move from a ‘day job’ to a ‘dream job’
Find your “Fit” by mapping out and blending the key elements listed in this coaching resource onto a legal pad as you put together the pieces that can become a successful career for a lifetime. Each category in this coaching exercise will help shape your thinking as you do the final assignment to discover your ‘core’ career focus during the final coaching exercise featured in this article, the “Career Kaleidoscope”. When completed, simply review the results with a family member, pastor, co-worker, trusted friend or life-coach. Once you have the results in front of you, coupled with some honest feedback, it will help to insure that you are on track in developing a personalized career GPS or “Global Positioning System” of your greatest skills to move forward in your strength zone. These results will become your career map of a strategic path of greater success in living out your destiny in a ‘dream job’, designed for you by a Creator God who desires your best!


Finally, don’t get discouraged if you can’t answer every question in every section. Think through each stage of your career journey and honestly share from your life experiences in the categories listed. Your life has meaning, and your career path will reflect major themes or patterns, which are the clues to building the life you were designed to live.


► Directions

Customize the categories below by listing out information from your own career journey. Place in facts, names, dates or a brief description of events as you give the details that describe your strengths learned through educational or life experiences. There are no wrong answers, and some categories will be longer than others, so add or adjust space as necessary to give an accurate description of your career development.

The more detail you give, the more clearly you can uncover and discover your career strengths and where you can focus to achieve maximum results. This is the story of your journey, and it is an important one. Be honest with your successes, failures, wins and losses. If you won an award- bring it up, or if you were fired for poor performance, comment on what you learned from it. Most business people doing this exercise have strengths they don’t give themselves credit for, so just by listing out and then thinking through these topics should open your eyes to better see where you fit in your career. Answer these questions with an open mind to discover a new view of yourself and where you best fit in the world of work.


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Find your “Fit” by mapping out and blending the following key elements onto a legal pad or the career Kalediscope exercise attached. Then sit down with a trusted mentor or coach to review the results as you develop a personalized “GPS” tracking system of positioning your skills and strengths onto a strategic career map leading to success.
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“Be direct with change and you will take charge of your life”. - Dwight Bain


-->Personality (e.g. introvert/extrovert, people person/loner, loud/quiet, sanguine, melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic or D.I.S.C., Meyers-Briggs, 5 Love Languages or other scores from personality profiles you may have taken)


-->Energy level in personal & professional life (high, moderate, low)


-->Organizational skills in personal & professional life (perfectionist, slob, motivated, disciplined, detailed, efficient, focused, timely, etc.)


-->Career Stage (e.g. just starting, starting over, leader, novice, expert, etc.)


-->Age, gender & birth order in family (or placement through adoption)


-->Family background (e.g. traditional nuclear family, middle class, urban, suburbs, Army “brat”, single-parent, large/small family, raised by grand-parents, blended family, and so on.)


-->Cultural background (Anglo, Asian, Black, Hispanic, first generation American, as well as the region of United States you grew up in.)


-->Education & school background (loved school, barely passed, sports, extra-curricular activities or leadership, GED, military, public/private, went away to a state-university or stayed home for community college, etc.)


-->Current roles & relationships (include both personal and professional roles like; student, employee, share-holder, CEO, vice-president, sales manager, as well as the relationship factors of single, married, divorced, husband, wife, mother, father, senior adult caregiver, dating, loner, committed or etc.)


-->Mentors & role models (include the family members, teachers, pastors, authors or leaders who shaped your thinking with their influence and indicate how much time and energy they spent with you personally or how much you were influenced through their writing or speaking. In either case, try to rank who was the most influential in your life at different stages of your life, especially before age 30.)


-->Individual life experiences (travel, meeting a well-known leader or celebrity, internships, moving out on your own, rebuilding after a crisis event- like the death of a friend or a DUI, winning an award for a sport or hobby, charity work- like Habitat for Humanity or the United Way, golfing with a sports star, being featured on TV, etc.)


-->Group life experiences (being on a winning team, trips with family or friends, being affected by disasters like Hurricane Andrew or the terrorist attacks of 9/11, or helping accident victims after a wreck, being in the Navy reserve during wartime, driving cross-country to a concert, etc.)


-->Stressful or Traumatic Experiences (any crisis events you may have experienced or lived through, such as a major accident, living through a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado, as well as any man-made disasters like the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This might include the break-up of a family through a highly contested divorce, a business failure, personal bankruptcy or a health crisis like battling against cancer. Note- these life altering events could have happened to you, or perhaps to someone else who experienced the trauma and you were their primary support through the crisis event.)


-->Work Experiences (your first job, your worst job, your favorite job, being fired or having to fire a friend at work, going through a down-sizing or lay-off, being bought out by a competitor and being restructured with new owners, businesses you started or sold, etc.)


-->Physical Values & Beliefs (your commitment to exercise, diet, sleep, fitness and use of healthy substances-while avoiding unhealthy ones, and the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)


-->Spiritual Values & Beliefs (your commitment to personal character development and integrity through disciplined meditation, worship and religious involvement, as well as the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)


-->Emotional Values & Beliefs (your commitment to develop personal maturity and self-control in managing the feelings of stress, worry, anger, fear, sadness, depression or anxiety, while displaying consistency with personal peace, kindness for others, impulse control and mental harmony as well as the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)


-->Financial Values & Beliefs (your commitment to wise use of finances- both now and in the future, including budgeting to prevent impulse spending, buying or renting, cost analysis prior to major purchases, charitable giving, saving for future emergencies or investments, preventing debt, or managing current debt service and responsibility to taxes, insurances, retirement, and future expenses. Include a description of the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area)


-->Skills & training (e.g. languages spoken, typing speed & accuracy, workshops or specialized training you have received, self-improvement groups you have participated in- like Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie, lessons taken, usage of special equipment or tools, computer programs or skills mastered, specialty products you have knowledge of, etc.)


-->Certifications, licenses or earned degrees (e.g. CPA, MD, PhD, JD, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, lifeguard, CPR, certified product specialist, RN, or Reverend. Include any career training programs that you started but may have not completed and those you may have previously held at any level, including local, state, national or international. It is helpful to also note any professional goals that you may have that require future certifications or license requirements.


-->Knowledge & information sources (types of books you seek out, favorite authors, primary media sources- like Internet, television, radio, newspaper or magazines. Comment on your choice of fiction/non-fiction or reality/happy ending themes, and why you choose your favorite entertainment, news, sit-coms, documentaries, how-to programs...is it to learn, relax, laugh, experience with others or escape daily life? As you list out this information be sure to indicate how much time or money you invest into your favorite information sources- for instance, “I read two books a month from the library, but spend $140 a month on cable television and high-speed Internet.)


-->Talent, Natural Ability & Gifting (Honestly point out your strengths if you know them, since false humility gets in the way of this important exercise. Are you a ‘natural’ at leading others, does everyone find it easy to talk to you, or it is easy for you to stand up to give a speech? Do you love to do research, organize, or discover the hidden source of problems in people or organizations? Think about how you appear to others and describe any areas that you may have been praised for in your life; like natural physical size or strength, high intelligence or creativity, musical or athletic ability, an attractive or fit body, a great smile, expressive eyes, pretty hair, perfect teeth or a soothing or broadcast quality voice. Be sure to comment on the areas that come so easy to you, but seem to always draw admiration from others, such as; the ability to match colors in clothes, people or furnishings. Having the artistic ability to create or reproduce images with video, film, or photography or with the use of drawing, painting, sculpting or designing. Repairing things or skillfully working with your hands on any type of material, machine or equipment. Assess your ability to put anyone at ease, work with children or the elderly, wake up feeling friendly or positive in your mood, automatically reaching out to others in need, being a great team player, eager to learn new things, always active and eager to move forward, being quick at solving puzzles, games or people problems or being called the “fix-it” person. You have these qualities- but you do have to carefully look to really see them because what comes natural to you isn’t really noticed by you. Since our society doesn’t teach us to pay much attention to natural gifting, you may find this exercise the hardest of all, so ask a trusted friend if you get stuck.)



Now that you have completed the Career Map… it’s time to move forward into the major themes of your career journey in guiding you forward toward your ‘dream job.’



Career Kaleidoscope Exercise:

Spend less than a minute per category and go with your first response as you consider your life and career in the following areas to discover your career ‘fit’



1. Design or natural talent and ability, (people always say you are good at this)
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


2. Work that is highly Interesting to you, (never boring, you can’t wait to do it)
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



3. Important or valuable work to you, (issues or causes you deeply believe in)
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



4. Areas you are highly skilled or experienced in, (been there- done that well)
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



5. Areas you are educated or credentialed in, (degrees, licenses, certifications)
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



6. Current career development plan, (audio learning, DVD’s, night school)
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



7. Marketplace and industry options available, (location, costs, age/stage, gender)
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



8. Groups or industries already looking for people with your background to improve the strength and depth of their team, (esp. networking organizations)
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Next: What logical career conclusions fit into the Kaleidoscope “core” today?
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Finally: What steps can you take today to make a positive career change? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________




Putting the pieces together is how you narrow down from something you might like to do, or that sounds interesting; to really focus on the exact skills that you were born with. You were put on this planet to make a positive difference. I hope and pray that you will take this information and move forward in strength as you use the stability of your ‘day job’ on your way to experience your ‘dream job.’ Oh, when you achieve that new level of career success, make sure to send me an email to tell of your adventure because I love to share career success stories with others to encourage them on their journey to living a better life by God’s grace.



► Suggested resource:

Visit www.Crown.org and check out the “Career Direct” career assessment profile. It is a highly detailed resource to help students and working professionals find their exact career with dozens of pages of resources personalized just to you and your specific personality and career strength. (Note: students tend to benefit from the educational version, which includes school choices as you map out your career for lasting success.)


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Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Decreased Sex Drive in Married Women

By Chris Hammond, MS

It happens sometimes. You begin to notice that you are not interested in having sex with your husband as frequently as before or the thought of having sex at all is unappealing. Your sex drive seems to be decreasing and you are unsure as to why this is happening. There may not be any logical explanation at first but looking past the decreased sex drive to underlying issues may reveal one of the sources of the problems.

Be honest. This is not a time to be silent with your husband. He needs to know that you are experiencing a decrease in your sex drive and perhaps not achieving an orgasm as frequently as before. Most likely he has already noticed (unless you are faking an orgasm which is lying) and is wondering what is wrong and if he is at fault. Check for any relational problems in your marriage such as difficulty with in-laws, finances, communication, or the kids. Getting help with these problems and dealing with them can improve your sex drive.

Talk to your doctor. Sometimes there are physiological reasons for a decrease in sex drive. Age, discomfort during sex, painful sex or change in hormonal levels can all be contributing factors. By discussing your concerns with your doctor and running a few simple tests, the physiological reasons can be identified and in some cases resolved, improving your sex drive.

Heal from the past. Oftentimes when you are in a stable marriage relationship and things seem to be going well, sexual images of your past or unresolved sexual issues seem to appear. Your ability to put aside these images or issues is no longer working but dealing with them again is not what you want to do. Yet, this is precisely what is needed. A past experience of abortion, rape, molestation, sexual abuse, multiple partners, pornography, sexually transmitted disease or infection can all be contributing factors to your decreased sex drive now. By taking some time to work with a professional counselor to help heal from these past hurts your sex drive can be improved.

Reduce stress. The stress of maintaining a household, managing the competing schedules of your husband and children, and working to improve your family’s financial situation can be overwhelming at times. Just knowing what needs to be done and also knowing that it all cannot be done increases your stress level as you try to figure out what will get left unfinished. More often than not, the things that get left undone are the very things that help you to relax and unwind. Things like proper amounts of sleep, eating right, exercising, reading a favorite book, taking a relaxing bath, going on a date with your husband, or just playing with your kids. By adding these activities back into your schedule and taking time out for yourself, your sex drive can be improved.

A decrease in your sex drive can be useful in identifying other issues that may need to be addressed in your marriage or life. But not addressing your diminished sex drive could result in an increase in marriage problems or and increase in lack of self-confidence, neither of which is desirable for a healthy marriage and family. This is a problem that will not go away with time or get better without being addressed, rather it is something you can confront and manage.


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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When A Friend Disappoints and Has an Affair

By Chris Hammond, MS


Our lives seem to have seasons. For a time being my husband and I were in a season of graduations, then marriages, then kids, and now we are in a season of divorces. I used to laugh at the fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce statistic smugly thinking that my friends would not be in that category, but now reality has set into my life. Fifty percent of marriages ending in divorce is a conservative number among my friends.

Most of the stories are similar in that they began with an emotional affair on the part of one spouse and then ended with a physical affair. In some cases the affairs did not last but in many of the cases both parties divorce and then remarry. As a friend to both spouses and unfortunately sometimes even a friend to the “other one”, the boundaries of friendship seem to become strained no matter how much like Switzerland I attempt to become. Having learned from many past mistakes, here are a few suggestions as to how to handle learning that your friend has committed adultery.

Don’t rely on gossip. This is not a time to listen to information second or third hand and rely on it as if it was gospel no matter how reliable the source. Instead observe your friend for yourself, looking for any indication that the gossip was true before you say anything. This simple step can reduce the effectiveness of gossip especially if it is not true. If there are indications that your friend is having an affair, then do not discuss it with anyone until you have had an opportunity to speak with your friend first.

Consider your friendship. Many friends run the other way instead of confronting a friend who is cheating because they don’t want to get involved. If you are really their friend, you are already involved and divorce does not just affect the person getting the divorce, it affects everyone around them. In some cases an affair and then divorce can have a ripple effect on the work environment, a group of close friends or the church. Consider these questions. How much do you really value the friendship? Is this a friendship you would like to maintain no matter the outcome? If so, then you may need to confront them. If not, then walk away and don’t spread gossip.

Think and pray before confronting. Ask God to give you the right time and place for a confrontation. Ask for understanding from their perspective what happened, not from your perspective. Recognizing that there usually is far more to the story than what you can see right now and usually more than one version of the same story goes a long way to understanding your friend. The point of confrontation is for reconciliation of your friendship, not an opportunity to say, “I’m right, you are wrong”. Most likely, this is the time when your friend really needs a true friend.

Gently confront. True friendship is not based on performance; it is based on love for one another. Everyone makes mistakes, some are larger than others, some are more obvious than others, and some are more destructive than others, but nonetheless, we all make mistakes. By reminding yourself of times when you have made a mistake and needed a friend helps to keep the conversation in proper perspective. Most important to remember is to speak the truth in love to your friend. Do not mince words or fail to say what is right, just do it remembering that you too have been wrong in the past and will be wrong sometime in the future.

Being disappointed by a friend’s affair does not mean that you have to lose the relationship. Rather, this is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship if your friend wants your friendship going forward. Your friend may not be thrilled by the conversation and in the end, your relationship may end but at least you will know that you did what was right, no matter how difficult.





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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jonah: Favorite Angry Guy in the Bible

By Chris Hammond, MS


Anger is an intense emotion that sometimes comes without warning or justification; however, learning to question the sources of anger can provide healing. In the moment of anger, you are not likely to rationally evaluate these questions but returning to them later can help you to manage your anger in the future.

The story of Jonah is familiar (he is the guy who was swallowed by a big fish and spit out three days later) but if it has been a while, review the four short chapters found in the Old Testament in the Book of Jonah. The Bible is filled with practical stories of people who struggled with the same things you struggle with today and provides practical application to your daily life.

Who was Jonah angry with? Initially, Jonah’s anger and deep prejudice towards the Assyrians who were the enemies of the Israelites was revealed by his reluctance to go to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyria. Many years earlier, the Assyrians had invaded Judea and scattered the Jewish people across many nations. Later on, Jonah’s anger expanded to God himself when he complained that God spared the lives of the Assyrians instead of killing them with His wrath for destroying Judea. Just like Jonah, the initial person we direct our anger towards may not be the true source of our anger. Asking questions such as “Who am I really angry with?” and “What previous time does this anger remind me of?” can go a long way in helping to reveal the true source of anger.

What was Jonah angry about? Jonah knew of God’s love and mercy which is why he did not want to go to Nineveh in the first place. He did not want God to spare the lives of the Assyrians; instead he wanted God to show his wrath and eliminate them. When Jonah finally conceded and went to Nineveh, he did so with the expectation that God take his revenge on the Assyrians. Jonah did not want good to come to the Assyrians, he wanted harm. Sometimes we too become angry when good comes to those whom we believe should be harmed or punished for their actions. This is all too evident when a child becomes a victim of some evil, especially at the hands of someone they trust. Ask yourself the question “What am I really angry about?” Often it is not the most obvious answer; rather it is the answer behind the initial response.

How did Jonah show his anger? Jonah traveled in the opposite direction of Nineveh. We call this passive aggressive anger which is doing the opposite of what another person wants you to do because you are angry with them. Jonah then told the sailors to throw him overboard instead of going back to shore; basically he would rather die than do what God asked. We call this aggressive and/or extreme anger which is acting in a manner to draw attention to yourself and your anger. When Jonah finally agreed to go to Nineveh and preach, he did it reluctantly as demonstrated by his response when God forgave the Assyrians. We call this suppressing anger which is ignoring the anger initially in order to keep the peace or obey someone but then becoming angry later. Ask, “How do I show my anger: is it passive aggressive, aggressive or suppressive?” Revealing your pattern of behavior when angry can help to identify times when the anger is not so obvious.

Where did Jonah show his anger? At the beginning of the story, Jonah showed his anger to the shipmates when he asked them to throw him overboard. His initial reaction to his anger was not the best. At the end of the story, we see Jonah going outside of the city to complain to God about his generosity which is a far better alternative. Often times, going away from the environment that makes you angry can help you to have a greater perspective on the true source of your anger. Notice that Jonah was honest with God about his anger and did not cover up his feelings. True prayer and communication with our Creator requires honesty on your part and in turn, God will communicate with you.

You can answer the “why” question of your anger better by answering the “who”, “what”, “how” and “where” questions regarding your anger first. True anger management can only begin when we understand the sources of our anger and learn how to cope with intense feelings of emotion. If you are struggling with your anger, talking with a counselor can help to shed some light on how to manage your anger.


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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Unexpected Anxiety Attacks

By Chris Hammond, MS

I was in the dentist office watching my daughter have some work done on her teeth when all of a sudden I became aware of my heart pounding in my chest and then racing very fast. My daughter was fine, she was not in any pain, the dentist and assistant were very polite, and the environment was extremely friendly but I felt like I was losing it. Shortly afterwards my stomach felt like it was in my throat, my palms became sweaty, I felt light-headed, my breath became shallow and my thoughts began to race. I am physically healthy as I have very low blood pressure and normal cholesterol levels so this was clearly not a heart attack. Rather, it was an anxiety attack.

Perhaps this has happened to you recently. You run into someone unexpectedly, you walk into a hospital room, you are watching something on TV, you are in the middle of a conversation, or you are eating dinner out and all of a sudden for no particular reason you find yourself in the middle of an anxiety attack. At the moment, it seems as if the attack comes out of nowhere and you realize that trying to analyze the problem in the moment is futile. Instead, the need is to find a quick solution to calm down and later evaluate the potential cause.

Mental Solution. I began with looking for a distraction around the room to see if the intensity of the attack could be minimized. Sometimes just focusing my thoughts on something else other then how I feel can be helpful. There was a picture hanging on the wall opposite my chair that caught my attention. It seemed a bit out of place and overly simplistic yet the image of the fish was very colorful and strangely enough the fish seemed to be smiling. This odd distraction helped to reduce the intensity but it was not enough to remove all of the anxiety.

Physical Solution. The next idea was to focus on my breathing and take not so obvious deep breaths so as to unnerve the dentist or my daughter. I breathed in for a count of five, held it for another count of five and breathed out for a count of seven. This breathing was done four times while becoming aware of the tension in my face, shoulders, hands and even toes. I used these breaths to help bring relaxation those tense areas. This reduced the anxiety even more but it still sadly was not enough.

Emotional Solution. Then I resorted to remembering my happy place which is on the beach, a place of serenity and calm. Despite the drilling sound, I tried to imagine the crashing of the waves, the birds singing in the air, the smell of the sea, the soft cold sand in between my toes and the warmth of the sun. A feeling of peace began to peek through the anxiety but the drilling sound was far too distracting for it to last long enough to have the proper affect. So I moved onto the next solution.

Spiritual Solution. Finally I recalled a passage in Scripture that reminds us to have no anxiety but instead with thanksgiving make your request known to God (Phil. 4:4-6). So I prayed thinking of all the things I had to be thankful for, of the blessings in my life, of the peace that God brings to our life and suddenly without even asking for the anxiety to be removed, it was gone. I was able to spend the rest of the visit focusing on my daughter’s needs instead of fearing that I would pass out.

Several hours later, upon reflection as to the real cause behind the anxiety attack, I discovered that my fear was really about not having any control over the potential pain my daughter maybe in during the visit. Although she reported no pain, as a mother I was still concerned for her and wanted the visit to go well. My fear caused the anxiety attack but in the moment all I could think about was how to manage the attack not the fear itself.

So the next time you have an anxiety attack, try the solutions above and don’t forget to spend some time later discovering the real cause behind the attack. Knowing your real causes and addressing them quickly can keep the attacks to a minimum and help you to focus on what really matters.



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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Now What: Recovering from the Negative Emotions of Bankruptcy

By Chris Hammond, MS

Filing for business or personal bankruptcy is one of the more difficult decisions you will make. Combine this decision with the unexpected negative emotions and at times things can seem to be overwhelming. See the article titled, “Surviving the Emotional Side of Bankruptcy” to help identify some of the negative emotions that are often experienced. Once you identify the negative emotions the next step is to cope and then finally to overcome the negative energy and look for what you can do.

Regain control. There are many factors that are completely out of your control during bankruptcy but there are some factors that are within your control. The economy, the value of your home and in some cases the prospect of a job in your area of expertise is beyond your ability to change. However, your spending habits, budgeting, taking care of yourself physically, and increasing your income potential are within your control. Place your energy into evaluating your current situation and begin to look for even the smallest of changes that you can make. Making many small changes can help to change your overall situation. For instance, you may begin clipping coupons, shopping at discount stores, garage sales or thrift stores for your needs instead of going to your usual stores. In addition, taking care of your health, eating right and exercise can help to reduce future medical costs. Look for the small things that you can change instead of the large things you cannot change.

Focus on the positive. It is easy to become focused on all of the negative things happening in your life right now as filing for bankruptcy makes them all too clear. The temptation is to allow the negative emotions to overtake you and focus on them instead of the positive. Bankruptcy has a way of taking a half-empty glass and making it three-quarters-empty (or more), yet there is still something left in the glass. However small the amount, give thanks for what you still have. Your possessions may no longer be in monetary form but they may be in relational form such as good friends and family or in physical form such as good health or spiritual form such as a strong faith in God. Whatever you have left, be grateful and give thanks daily.

Learn from past mistakes. The challenge of learning from past mistakes is to stop beating yourself up and stop dwelling on the same issue over and over. Replaying the moments of poor decisions again and again like a tape running in your head is not productive rather it is destructive. What is worse is labeling yourself as a loser or a failure for having made the mistake in the first place. A better solution is to write down the mistakes, evaluating each one separately to see if you really could have made a better decision. For instance, if you found yourself in an overvalued house before the crash of the real estate market, how much could you realistically have foreseen? Even the financial experts did not predict such a crash and certainly the mortgage industry was off as well. But you can learn from this event that what goes up can come down and buying a home well under your current income level is better than buying a home at your current income level or slightly above.

Make a new plan. Only after you have confronted the negative emotions, regained control over what you can control, focused on the positive things you still have and learned from your past mistakes can you begin to make a new plan. Trying to make a new plan without the above information will not provide you with the proper perspective. Making a new plan is about looking forward to what is a more realistic expectation for your financial and personal life. You may choose to go back to school to advance your degree or work towards a vocation that you enjoy. You may choose not to buy a home until you can put 50% of the money down, choosing to save for the event. You may choose not to purchase any new or used cars on a payment plan and instead save the money out of cash flow. Whatever the plan, write it down and refer to it regularly to keep your perspective in the proper place.

Use the negative emotions from bankruptcy to form a new way of looking at life. The American Dream does not have to include massive amounts of debt rather the American Dream is about freedom from the tyranny of debt. By choosing to live your life differently, you will begin to see the lessons learned from bankruptcy as a blessing instead of a curse.


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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Surviving the Emotional Side of Bankruptcy

By Chris Hammond, MS

The decision to file for either a business or personal bankruptcy is difficult enough. While you may have prepared yourself for the short-term and long-term financial consequences for the decision, most likely the emotional consequences have yet to be addressed. Each person is different and for some the emotional reactions are less than others but for the most part, each walks through the different stages although not necessarily in any particular order. By being aware of the emotional stages to the bankruptcy and learning to cope effectively you can begin to heal from the storm of bankruptcy.

Shock – Is this really happening? This is the most immediate reaction to the reality of filing for bankruptcy and usually lasts for a couple of weeks. It is similar to a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car; you feel paralyzed, overwhelmed, and insecure about the decision you made. Worse, some your past decisions are what contributed to this moment so you are reluctant to trust even yourself to make the simplest of decisions in the moment. Shock fades as the reality of your situation sets in and some minor decisions are able to be made.

Guilt – What have I done? Recalling past mistakes over and over for the point of learning from them is useful but when the recalling turns into beating yourself up, it becomes destructive. Feelings of guilt over poor decisions in the past seem to flood your thinking and can be too much to handle at times. Being aware of your mistakes and learning from them is different from agonizing over them. What is done is already done, now is not the time to beat yourself up over the past, rather begin to look forward to the new possibilities.

Shame – What will others think? Friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors might be able to find out about your bankruptcy. However, you are under no obligation to tell anyone about your bankruptcy unless it is asked for on an application to a job, rental agreement, loan or other legal binding document. Everyone does not need to know about your financial situation; this includes friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors and talking about it to everyone is not necessarily helpful. Your financial situation is your private business and should only be disclosed if required or agreed upon with your spouse. Instead find a confidant, a counselor, a long-term friend, or your spouse to discuss and vent your feelings of frustration, but try to keep the discussion to just one or two persons.

Anxiety – What will I do now? The pounding in your chest, difficulty breathing, racing heart rate, stomach indigestion, nausea, sweaty palms, dizzy feeling, chills or hot flashes are indications of intense anxiety. Anytime you feel out of control, overcome by fear of things that you were never afraid of before, or as if things are happening to someone else and not you, it is likely that you are experiencing anxiety. Just identifying anxiety as anxiety sometimes reduces the intensity while understanding that the root of the anxiety is the bankruptcy and not you losing your mind.

Anger – Whose fault is this? There is a tendency to blame others for the bankruptcy and in some cases this is entirely true. Economic factors such as loss of a job due to reorganization, loss of business, or decreased value in a home are for the most part outside of your control. Taking anger out on the economy, politicians, or your dog will not improve your condition, it will only make it worse because it distracts you from the things you can control. The same is true for blaming your spouse for the bankruptcy; all that accomplishes is to add to the increased tension in a marriage and could result in permanent separation.

Depression – Why does everything seem so hard? At some point all the other emotions seem to fade and you are overcome by an intense sadness that may result in a desire to be alone, crying over unexpected events, disinterest in things you previously enjoyed, moodiness, loss of energy, insomnia, indecisiveness, decreased sex drive, or sudden weight gain/loss. Situational depression under these circumstances is normal. There are times in our life when we will naturally have great peaks of excitement such as falling in love or the birth of a child followed by great valleys of sadness such as losing a loved one or as in this case filing for bankruptcy. Understanding the cause of your depression is half of the battle, not allowing it to take over your life is the other half.

The emotions you may experience after filing for bankruptcy may catch you off guard and can vary in intensity over a period of one to two years. In many ways, filing for bankruptcy is similar to a death because recovery from bankruptcy requires a commitment to die to past spending mistakes and expectations for the future. Look for the article titled, “Now What: Recovering from the Negative Emotions of Bankruptcy”.


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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Is Your Storm More Like Jonah, Job or Jerusalem?

By Chris Hammond, MS

Our recent economic times have hit many people hard with more people homeless, in the process of foreclosure, without jobs, working jobs well beneath their skill level or filing for bankruptcy than I have seen in my lifetime. While it is easy to blame others for our troubles and in this economic climate, there are certainly factors beyond our control; we also must look at the actions we have taken to contribute to the problem. Jonah, Job and Jerusalem all faced overwhelming difficulties and while we may not be swallowed by a great fish, have our home and family destroyed in a day, or have our king assassinate every family member in a feuding family, we can apply the lessons learned from their lives to ours today.

Jonah. Jonah knew what God wanted him to do, he just did not want to do it so he took a ride on a ship headed for the opposite direction of what God wanted. The result was a great storm nearly sank the ship, the crew confronted Jonah, Jonah confessed he was the problem and told them to throw him overboard. Still defiant, Jonah would rather face death then do what God wanted. The crew reluctantly did as Jonah asked and God in his mercy caused a great fish to swallow him alive. He remained in the fish for three days until he repented and then God released him.

Sound familiar? Have you ever known what God wanted you to do but you refused to do it and as a result were punished for disobedience? Maybe you are in this place right now and are realizing that the storm you are in is a direct result of not being obedient to God’s commandments. The good news is that it is not too late to do the right thing. Perhaps your economic situation is the result spending more than you have or wanting things that are out of your price range (also known as envy, lust or covetousness). Take a lesson from Jonah, only though do not wait until a fish swallows you up, and repent. Decided to live a life based on being grateful for what God has provided instead of always looking over the fence to see what others have and wanting it instead.

Job. Unlike Jonah, Job did not do anything to deserve losing all he had. Instead Job found himself in the middle of spiritual warfare between God and Satan. God knowing and trusting Job’s faithfulness allowed Satan to take his home, his wealth, his family and finally his health. Job was left with three friends who questioned his every action and provided little comfort in his time of need. In the end, God answers Job’s questions as to why He allowed such tragedy to happen by reminding Job that He is the creator of all things, the giver of all life, the designer of all forces of nature, the author of all wisdom, the provider of judgment, the source of all strength, the owner of all things, and the defeater of all evil.

Sound familiar? Have you had everything taken from you and then turned to God to ask why He would allow such a thing to happen? Maybe this describes you better than Jonah and you have searched your heart and actions for what you have done wrong and found nothing. The temptation is to then blame God for the state you find yourself in and question His divine nature. Instead recognize that there are spiritual factors beyond your control and influence. What you can control in this environment is your reaction, your continued commitment to God, your faithfulness to His word, and your love of His commandments.

Jerusalem. After the split of the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom following the reign of King Solomon, Jerusalem had a series of Kings both good and bad. Repeatedly in Scripture we learn that God was displeased with the people and their continued offering of sacrifices to idols. The idols took different forms and required different sacrifices from small tokens of money to live people. Even the good Kings failed to completely remove all of the idols from the people and as a result God allowed the evil Kings to take over the land. The evil kings would frequently assassinate to gain power, murder family members of previous Kings, and rule through intimidation and fear. The people who were promised protection by God if they followed His commandments were left without protection from both their own Kings and neighboring nations.

Sound familiar? Have you ever wondered about how our nation has fallen so far from the original design of the Constitution of the United States and why we seem to be in constant battle with other nations? One of the mistakes the people of Jerusalem made was looking for the King to do the right thing and then to follow him. The people had access to the Prophets of the time who willing spoke God’s truth to anyone who would listen from Kings to servants. As a people we too can look into our own lives and recognize how we are part of the problem our nation faces. Instead of waiting for the politicians to get it right, we need to get it right in our own homes. Idols take different forms today but the concept is the same, it is anything that we trust for security or worship more than God. It can be TV, video games, money, house, job, car, 401K, computer, news, internet, family or friends. This is not an exclusive list as the point is to evaluate your own life and see if you have an idol you need to remove.

Tough times are difficult to weather. Reflection into your personal life for potential causes of the tough times is even harder. But if you evaluate your life using the lessons learned from Jonah, Job and Jerusalem by acknowledging the problems, repenting from the problems and renewing your faith and commitment, the blessings and promises of God will stand in the end.

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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Defining Mr. Right or Mrs. Right

By Chris Hammond, MS

Whether you are still single or find yourself single again, the prospect of dating can be overwhelming. There is quite a bit of advice about dating but not much about preparing to date. Deciding in advance why you are dating and what type of person you want to date, makes the decision of whether or not to date someone or how long to date someone much easier.

Why date. For some, the purpose of dating is to discover if the person you are interested in getting to know better is has the potential for becoming a long term partner. This is not about getting a marriage proposal on the first date; rather it is an acknowledgement that there is a desire for something more at some point in time. For others, dating has one purpose, to have fun. For the fun seekers, the idea of any commitment longer than one date is too much for them. Generally speaking, this is why those interested in just having fun are not good matches for those interested in long term commitments.

Don’t waste your time. If you are dating to find a partner, then wasting your time with those just having fun can be frustrating for both of you. Once you discover that your date is not interested in the same outcome, parting your ways for the time being on friendly terms is better than stringing out a relationship that will eventually end with someone feeling resentment. Either the person desiring the long term commitment will resent the fun seeker because they won’t change their mind or the fun seeker will resent the long term commitment person because they have changed their mind. However it happens, someone is hurt and this is not a good way to begin a marriage.

Decide what matters. If you are interested in a long term commitment, then deciding what matters to you in a partner is better done before you meet them. This is not a time to decide that your future partner should have blue eyes or black hair because you want kids with that combination; rather this is a time to be selective about what really matters. Fifteen years later appearances change and if you fall in love with the appearance of a person and not their intellect, character, or heart, then you will have built the foundation of your marriage on a sink-hole.

Make a list. This is the hardest part of the process, making a list of the qualities that are really important to you and compliment you in some way. For instance, if you know that you are a spender when it comes to money, then you are better off marrying a saver. If you are coming into the marriage with kids from a previous marriage, then it is essential to have a spouse that loves kids. If you like to watch weird Sci-Fi movies, then it is good to have someone who can enjoy them with you. The list should be long and as specific as possible without too much detail. For instance, writing down a general statement such as “good sense of humor” is not specific enough; rather “enjoys a dry sense of humor” is a better statement. On the other hand, too specific statements limit your prospects. This is about finding a balance.

Prioritize. Once you have your list, put your list in the order of priority in your life. A person who is an active Christian involved in the ministry of their church might have at the top of the list a person with similar characteristics. Items such as moral beliefs, value systems, desire for future children, good reputation and employability should be close to the top of the list. The bottom of the list may include appearance preferences, location, or family background. However, you may decide differently then suggested, remember this is about your desires for a mate not about someone else.

Use the list. Please do not bring the list on the first date and begin questioning the other person about the items that are important to you. This is a bit on the crazy side and is more likely to scare someone away rather than draw them closer to you. Instead, pick one or two and investigate if your date has the qualities you are looking for in a partner. Then work your list a bit at a time.
Dating with a purpose in mind and with an understanding of the type of person you are looking for in a partner, makes the process more enjoyable and less frustrating. It also saves you the heartache of spending too much time and investing too much emotional energy with Mr. Wrong or Mrs. Wrong.



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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Why Rest?

By Chris Hammond, MS

For a musician, the symbol for rest on a sheet of music signals them to completely stop playing for an interval of time. It is a period of silence that is sometimes used as a dramatic pause to draw attention to the next few stanzas, sometimes it is used as relief for the intensity of the previous stanzas, sometimes it is used when changing from one cord or instrument to another, and sometimes it is used to mark the beginning or the end of a piece.

There are several different symbols used in music to signify different periods of rest such as whole note rests, quarter note rests and eighth note rests. Just as in music, we too have different periods and purposes of rest in our lives. We need rest both mentally and physically in order to renew our strength, gain proper perspective on our circumstances, or prepare of a period of future intensity such as the birth of a baby, new job, new home or new relationship.

Daily Rest. Our bodies are naturally designed for daily rest through sleep. The amount of sleep depends on the individual, age, and circumstances of the day. For instance, a growing newborn baby requires more sleep time than awake. In contrast, an adult doing little physical labor may require less sleep then one engaged in daily physical labor. When we lack sleep or lack good quality sleep, our mental and physical abilities are not at their best performance.

Weekly Rest. However, we need more rest than our daily sleep requirement which is why one of the Ten Commandments is to honor the Sabbath. The Sabbath is one day from sundown to sundown of complete rest, no working every week, giving praise and thanks to God. Some celebrate this day on Saturday, some on Sunday, and some on other days of the week depending on their work schedule. This is an essential period of rest because it rejuvenates our energy levels, aids in proper perspective of our lives, and recognizes our blessings come from God.

Yearly Rest. But the Bible does not stop there. There are seven other holidays commanded in the Old Testament that last for a period of seven days or one day. Each holiday has a different purpose, significance and period of rest:

• Passover, one day holiday reminds us of God’s deliverance from slavery;

• Unleavened Bread, seven day holiday reminds us that we leave the old life behind and enter a new life;

• First Harvest, one day holiday reminds us of God’s provision for our daily needs;

• Harvest (Pentecost), one day holiday shows joy and thanksgiving for the harvest;

• Trumpets, one day holiday expressing joy and thanks for the new year;

• Day of Atonement, one day holiday reminds us of our sinfulness and restores our fellowship with God;

• Shelters, seven day holiday renews our commitment to God, trusting in His guidance and protection.

These periods of rest are designed to be like the rest notes in a piece of music. Each has a purpose and period of time designed to renew our strength, give thanks, restore our relationships, reflect on the past, and remember the goodness of God.
What are the holidays that you celebrate? Are you using your vacation days every year and resting? Are you taking out one day a week for complete rest? Are you getting enough daily rest through sleep? Our periods of rest as in a music sheet helps to mark the significant events of our lives, binds us together as a family and strengths our faith in God.

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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Positive Parenting

By Linda Riley

Points to Consider:

1. Depend a lot on God and prayer. Pray for them and with them.

2. It is wise to control our children when they are young, as we cannot control the choices adolescents and teens will make.

3. Take an active role in selecting their peer group in their early years of school, choosing children who have parents with similar values. This avoids a lot of problems down the road.

4. Develop their character through deep-focused discussions, teaching important values and beliefs.

5. Provide them with a standard to help measure what is right and what is wrong.

6. Through communication, help them learn how to think and evaluate choices for themselves.

7. Model what you are teaching and what you believe.

8. Be interested in them and what they’re doing.

9. Look for character-building opportunities.

10. Don’t over-control, but confront them on accepting responsibility for their choices and actions.

11. Take children to church and Sunday/Sabbath school when they are young so they have a foundation of truth.

12. Focus on developing a positive relationship with them rather than controlling them.

13. Never give up in frustration! Stay focused on the goal of raising a mentally, socially, and emotionally healthy child.

How to Get Really M.A.D. to Make a Difference

By Dwight Bain

Are you facing an incredibly difficult time in your life right now? If so, know that you are not alone, even though it may feel like it. During the painful times of life it is easy to get mad at what is going on around you, and it is normal when you feel hurt to lash out in anger, literally to pass on the pain to others.

When we are hurting it is easy to hurt others, but it's also dangerous to be self-absorbed. An angry response spikes up the stress hormone cortisol in the body, which hurts our health in countless ways because of the stress response. Did you know that when you change your focus to do something positive, your brain releases endorphins to neutralize the stress, and bring healing and greater peace? Literally God designed our brains to make our body better when we get outside ourselves to help others. I was reading a devotional from "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers yesterday and saw this phrase. "Self-pity is satanic." Oswald went on to point out how important it is during the tough times to not get self-absorbed, but rather to let every difficult circumstance push you closer to Christ.

Can I share another approach with you about getting MAD, one that is not just normal, it is well ABOVE normal? If you take the letters m - a - d and let them represent the words Make - A - Difference it will give you an abnormal response... one that doesn't make sense, except for the fact that God's love is filling up your heart, so you can share it with others. I love how this concept is phrased by Mother Teresa, listen...

"What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family."

Isn't that great! You don't have to look far to be a person who wants to Make - A - Difference in this world... you only have to look as far as your family, your co-workers, your neighbors. Everyone is carrying burdens of some kind, but when you reach out to help them carry that burden, you are literally becoming God's hands to take some of the pressure off. Recently I spoke with a friend who told me how he received a phone call 'out of the blue' from someone who was just calling to check on him to see if he was okay. It not only brought him comfort, it reminded him to look up and remember that God hadn't left him during a tough time. I believe that call was promoted by God, but carried out by one of his messengers who got M-A-D.

How about you? Are you willing to stop looking down at your own problems... to start looking up to find comfort from God... and them start looking around to share His comfort and love with others? Here is a list to get you started today, started on a new journey, one that is straight from heaven, one that will Make - A - Difference.

1.Practice Acts of Random Kindness, (or A.R.K. for short)

2.Pray through the day, instead of panic

3.Reach out to the lost and lonely

4.Encourage everyone you meet

5.Read God's Word to gain a new heart for the world

6.Call someone you know who is in a tough time to comfort them

7.Use a journal to release your own pain, like David did in the Psalms

8.Listen to positive music and media to keep your focus

9.Let go of past mistakes, remember that yesterday ended last night.

10.Find something to be grateful for, to count your blessings more than you count your problems

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Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Life Coach in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change to make a positive difference in the world for Christ.