Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How Not to Shutdown in an Argument with Your Spouse

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH


Have you ever experienced this? You are in the middle of explaining a problem to your spouse and instead of listening to what you are saying, they are picking apart the most ridiculously details. Frustrated, you try to answer and return back to the problem but they are so stuck on the wrong word you used or your tone of voice that you don’t even want to continue. So instead of having another argument, you decide to shut down and keep your comments to yourself.

Now you have another problem on top of the original problem and so it builds until you just want to explode. While there is nothing wrong with deciding not to argue about semantics, not voicing your opinion can breed resentment which turns into anger and eventually bitterness. So what can you do? Instead of replaying the argument over and over from your perspective, try to replay the argument as if you were a third party looking from the outside. Then evaluate the situation with these points in mind.

Recognize. As you replay the argument, look for similar patterns of behavior from previous exchanges. For instance, if the argument involved another person is there a tone in your voice that indicates aggression, depression, obsession, or oppression towards that person? Could the way you say something trigger a response in your spouse because they are naturally inclined to defend that person? Recognize the non-verbal communication and see if there is a look, a lack of engagement, or a distraction that is also triggering a negative response. Oftentimes it is not the obvious answers that are the most revealing.

Remember. Replay the argument again and this time, take into consideration the timing of the argument. Did you confront your spouse while they were in the middle of something else? Did you confront them on the same day when a thousand other things went wrong? Were they overly tired and would have benefited from some sleep first? Remember the circumstances surrounding the argument and see if their response would have been similar no matter who was confronting them in that moment.

Restore. One more time, replay the argument and look for ways you could have resolved the conflict without shutting down. Sometimes it is as simple as telling your spouse that you will answer all of their questions at the end of your explanation or not entertaining their question at all until you are done speaking. Instead of refusing to get your point across, look for shorter ways to explain your point or start with your point first and then share the story. Restore your relationship rather than allowing an argument to tear it apart.

Having said all of this, there are some spouses who already have disengaged from their marriage and the distraction tactic is an effort to reinforce or justify their disengagement. If this has happened, then when you try to bring up the argument again, they will reply in a similar manner. If not, then review the three points and give them the benefit of the doubt.




---------------------------------

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, September 20, 2011

Creating Positive Change in Spite of Crisis

By Dwight Bain


Change... it is a part of life that we don’t like to face. Oh we may speculate on what it would be like to live some where else, move to another house, take another job in another industry, move away from mom and dad, or marry our 'dream date'. We like to talk about the big changes that we may go through one day; but let's face it. Most people hate to go through a major change. I think we tend to avoid change like the plague; even though we know in our heads that God will ultimately use change to grow us into a stronger person through the process.


Some of the changes in life are predictable. Losing our first tooth, the independence that comes from a driver’s license, graduation, moving out on our own, and other expected stages of life. Some changes are not pleasant, but equally common. A new-born baby not sleeping well and the parents struggling to find the energy to cope with their new child's continual cries for comfort, siblings fighting with each other, feeling nervous about a job interview, wondering if you will be able to pay for a child’s future education. We think about those changes for years, often with worry, sometimes with a plan on how to cope when the kids leave home, but always with the anticipation that the event will happen one day.


These changes we accept as a part of growing up... of moving forward... even if we don’t like it. You may be old enough to remember a popular song from the 1960's based on the verse in Ecclesiastes 3 :1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” God has a plan and purpose for your life, and ultimately we know that these predictable stages are a good thing. But what about the changes that we don’t like. The ones that are unpredictable and painful?


Think about the sudden and unpredictable changes in life. Single words tell it all. Death, law-suit, divorce, flood, abuse, hurricane, bankruptcy, flunked, foreclosure, fired. Do we quickly seek to thank God for these events? I don’t and suspect that you don’t either. It is hard to see the blessing when the change was so unexpected, so sudden, so painful and so hard to figure out.


Perhaps that is why the following words have so much meaning to me. They were spoken by a local media personality, who shared these inspirational words at a banquet where he was the keynote speaker for the event. It's important to know that he was speaking that night AFTER he had been fired from his day job , yet BEFORE he was allowed to share his firing with the public. Listen:


“After awhile, you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul. You begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises. Learn to accept your defeats with head up and eyes open- with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child. You build your roads on today, because tomorrow’s roads are too uncertain for plans. So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And learn you really can endure, that you really are strong and you really do have worth.”


These words remind me that God is in control even if my life feels like it is in a total crisis. I believe that God has a plan for our lives, that He really will provide a way out of the pain and toward the strength that comes on the other side of a crisis. The rest of the third chapter of Ecclesiastes includes the following theme that really gives us the big picture on sudden and unexpected change. ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

I believe that God has the major changes of our lives mapped out. He knows why bad things happen to good people. So the next time a major change hurts you, feels scary, or causes you to want to run like crazy- I hope you will try running. Except this time, run toward God, because in Him you can find the spiritual power you need to face impossible situations. His presence will make all the difference to guide you from panic to a place of inner strength and lasting peace.



------------------------

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 receive this valuable weekly 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. He partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 300 complimentary articles and special reports at www.LifeWorksGroup.org

The Importance of Win-Win Arguments in Your Marriage Relationship

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

You are having that same argument about money again. One person believes the money needs to be spent and the other person believes the money should be saved. Sometimes the argument is spoken out loud and sometimes the argument is done silently, nonetheless the same argument is replayed over and over. If the spender gets their way then they are happy to have won this round, if the saver gets their way then they are happy to have won. In both cases the opposing spouse often feels like the loser of the argument desperately trying to figure out how to win the next round.

Everyone falls into this trap sometime; maybe the issue is manifested differently but the pattern is the same. The problem is not the issue per say, but rather the outcome. There are three possible outcomes to any argument: win-lose, lose-lose and win-win. However, in a marriage only two of the three outcomes are really possible.

Lose-Lose. In lose-lose outcomes, both spouses walk away feeling as if nothing was resolved and words were unnecessarily spoken. The argument may have escalated beyond the issue into past behavior, words, and/or feelings or additional unrelated topics may have entered the argument. Lose-Lose outcomes occur when both sides lose track of the topic and begin the finger pointing game. The reality is that both of you are on the same team in a marriage so every lose-lose argument becomes destructive rather than constructive.

Win-Lose. In win-lose outcomes, if one of you feels like they have lost, then in actuality both of you have lost because a marriage is a team of two people. One spouse trying to get the upper hand of the other is like pampering your right hand over your left. Even if one hand does more work than the other, both are equally important while serving separate functions. So when one spouse walks away from the argument feeling like they have not been heard, there is no real agreement and the win-lose outcome becomes a lose-lose outcome.

Win-Win. In win-win outcomes, both spouses feel heard, feel safe, feel valued, and feel respected. This is by far the most time consuming outcome of the three but it is also the most rewarding and will strengthen your marriage in the process. As the win-win concept becomes a goal in your arguments, you will find that it takes less and less work to reach the outcome because you have already laid out the ground work for mutual understanding. Notice that the win-win outcome is not about who is right but rather about each of you feels at the end. One spouse maybe right all along but how they value the other spouse’s opinion or perspective makes all the difference.

As a side note, submission in a marriage is not about winning or losing in an argument, rather it is a gift of trust given from the heart just as loving unconditionally is a gift given from the heart. A person demanding submission or love misses out on the true value of the gift just like a child demanding a present misses out on the joy of receiving something unexpected. Once demanded, it does not satisfy quite like the unexpected gift.

Striving for win-win outcomes in your arguments is a struggle but in the end it is worth the effort. So the next time you are tempted to end the argument by railroading over your spouse, stop and consider the value of your team. If your marriage is important to you, then the extra time to make it work is well worth it.


-----------------------------------

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.

Help for When You Feel Discouraged or Unsatisfied

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH


Have you ever begun a project knowing that it was the right thing to do but everything seems to be working against you? Without even realizing it, discouragement overtakes you and what appears to be a good idea has now been put on the back burner. Maybe the discouragement came in the form of criticism by a loved one or in the form of diminished enthusiasm from co-workers or in the form of last minute emergencies that consume excessive amounts of time. Regardless of the source of discouragement, it is there and the once great project is no longer getting any of your attention.

There is a story in the Old Testament about a group of people who tried to rebuild the Temple after it was destroyed but got discouraged (book of Haggai). Several governmental officials went out of their way to prevent the rebuilding from happening and slow the efforts of the workers. The workers in turn got distracted with building their own houses, planting crops and tending to the day to day responsibilities. The irony is that the more distracted they became, the less productive they were and consequently the less satisfied they felt. God’s solution to the problem is outlined in the following steps.

Be Strong. Even if others get in the way of what God has put into your heart, stay strong in your conviction. Make sure that your conviction is from God first, but once you have the assurance, rest in it and don’t allow others to steal your joy.

Get to Work. Reprioritize your life and put the most important things at the top of your list. For instance, if God is first then how much of your daily time is dedicated to Him? If your family is second, how much of your time is dedicated to them? Work on your priorities in the order you have them, then if there is time left over you can do the extras.

God is with you. Even when things do not go as planned or when things seem to be bleak, God is there. He does not put ideas on our hearts without giving us the means to carry them out. How do you know if an idea is from God? Test it. It will be consistent with His word and consistent with the advice of Godly people.

He keeps His promises. Take a moment to remember how God has kept His promises to you in the past or to others around you. Be thankful for what He has already done and patient in waiting for His timing for the future.

Don’t be afraid. Fear is one of our greatest enemies and can paralyze even the strongest of Christians. We are not called to be a people of fear but rather a people of strength. There are many Christians who have accomplished much for God, look at their lives for motivation and keep moving forward.

Discouragement can creep up in our lives without notice and can prevent us from doing what we know is the right course of action. Once you recognize the discouragement, the steps above can help you to overcome it and return back to the work you have neglected. The satisfaction of completing the project despite the discouragement will become a memorable event for you to recall one day.



-------------------------

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, September 14, 2011

How to Overcome the Need to Please Others

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH


Do you get enjoyment out of anticipating someone’s need which you think will make them happy and then investing time meeting that need without being asked? Do you often feel drained of your energy but keep working anyway because they need you to help? Do you spend countless moments replaying conversations and rehearsing new ones trying desperately to figure out what someone else wants? If so, you may have an unhealthy need to please others.

There is a difference between a healthy need to please others and an unhealthy need to please others. A healthy need is not dependant on a particular response. For instance, if you clean the garage because you know it will be helpful to the family but are not expecting any help or compliments in response, then you have a healthy need to please others. On the other hand, if while you are cleaning the garage you are thinking about how your teenage son should be helping you and looking forward to your wife praising your work, then you have an unhealthy need to please others. The former response has less anxiety while the later response has greater anxiety. But there is hope.

Less expectations. Your self-talk is extremely powerful as you will reap what you sow even if it is only to yourself. If you expect a praise from a boss for a job well done and do not get it, then you might begin the negative self-talk such as “I’m not good enough” or “They don’t appreciate me”. This in turn increases your job dissatisfaction, creates unnecessary tension at work, and causes you to become angry. Instead, do a good job because you like to do a good job and you care about the quality of your work, not because you are looking for praise. By having less expectation on your boss’ opinion, you will gain freedom from living your life to please others.

More down time. The tighter your schedule is, the more likely it is that you have taken on excessive responsibility. If you find yourself unable to say “No” to a new project or activity, unable to delegate responsibility fully to others regardless of the outcome, or unable to let something go then you most likely are running on empty. Everyone needs down time and at least one day a week should be spent doing something relaxing or having a Sabbath. Practice saying “No” to new projects until old ones are completed, give an assignment away to someone else and gain a better perspective on the value of down time.

No rescuing. When someone needs help it is easy to step in and help them, after all they need it and you get to feel good about giving the help. While offering help is good, rescuing is quite another matter; the difference is in your actions. A familiar saying is, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” If you are helping someone by doing their work for them, then you are rescuing. If you are helping someone by teaching them how to do it for themselves, then you are truly helping. The irony of the matter is that by rescuing someone you increase the possibility of resentment on both of your parts whereas if you help them you have made a friend.

Overcoming the need to please others is difficult and takes time and practice. By using the three steps above and reviewing them regularly, you can begin the process of pleasing yourself instead of others. In the end, the boundaries that you set for yourself will far outweigh any negative consequences of not pleasing other people. After all, most of them are too worried about pleasing others too.



---------------------------------

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, September 13, 2011

Ten Years After the Terrorists

Reflections on God’s protection and provision

By Dwight Bain

“Where were you when you heard about the terrorist attacks?” Ask any American above the age of 15 and they will get a sad look in their eyes and tell you exactly what they were doing ten years ago. We remember any major crisis and the attacks on 9/11 were the deadliest in our nation’s history. What we remember about that day can make us stronger because we are filled with overwhelming gratitude or it can crush us because of unresolved grief, guilt or trauma.

Reflections only show a picture of the way things are in a given moment of time. When you look into a mirror or see your face reflected back from the still water of a pond you aren’t seeing the real thing, it’s just a mirror image of the real thing. Memories are like that and memories are a gift from God when we have worked through the grief, or memories can bring back a lot of pain.

News anchor Ted Koppel said on the day of the attacks, “Nothing will ever be the same again” and he was right. America is different. People don’t trust as much. People automatically look at some people with suspicion. Mostly people are more afraid. A tragedy on one single day in 2001 changed all the other days to come.

So what can we learn from that sad day in September so many years ago?


First is to look back and REMEMBER…
· Remember the painful past
· Remember how America came together
· Remember how everyone wanted to help others
· Remember people jamming churches to pray for our country


Next is to RECALL…
· Recall the lessons learned
· Recall how God protected us from more attacks
· Recall how God provided for us through this terribly stressful decade
· Recall how people were able to grieve and then grow again after terrible loss


Most of all to REFOCUS…
· Refocus on core values
· Refocus on what matters most to you
· Refocus on who you called 10 years ago to see if they were okay
· Refocus on your faith in God and your hope in a better future by His grace


When you think back to the horrible images of the terrorist attacks, or if you choose to watch one of the many media specials, I hope you protect your loved ones from the hidden dangers of becoming obsessed, even paralyzed from media overexposure. Guarding your mind from the trauma of crisis events playing over and over on television or the Internet was important then, and it is just as important today.

How can you tell if you or your children have seen too much, or perhaps have emotions which have been building up inside from years ago? There are many warning signs of chronic stress. You need to become aware of the warning signs and learn how to cope.

Consider these practical action steps as you protect your daily routine especially in dealing with the needs of your children. Using these guidelines, parents can grow stronger as well as be able to reach out to children to help them deal with the crisis, in an age appropriate manner. The stress-reaction guidelines listed below will help children and adults avoid being ‘re-traumatized’ by distressing images of the attack.


1. Avoid stuffing your emotions

Think in terms of an expanding balloon. The terrorist attacks were terrible, but they were 10 years ago. Letting pressure from the past build up will only create more pressure if you don't have some type of healthy outlet. When traumatic emotions build up, you will feel like blowing up. A more effective way to directly deal with your emotions is to follow this brief model of crisis management for yourself and for children.

Face it- Directly face the trauma and tragedy of the past.

Feel it- There are a number of normal emotions that occur after an act of violence like terrorism. Fear, guilt, grief, panic, denial, anxiety, anger, shock, loss of emotional control or depression are all normal emotions. You should consider these as normal reactions to trauma and express them verbally. You cannot talk too much as you attempt to release intense emotions. Healthy expression includes talking, writing, drawing, journaling and prayer.

Process it- This is the cognitive stage that comes after you begin to release emotions. Since there are no single answers to a national tragedy, it is recommended that you sort through what this crisis means to you. How was your life impacted? What changed for your children or the people you work with? What have you done differently? As you recall the events of the past it allows you to reinforce a strategic plan of action to better cope with your personal and professional life. After you process through how you have dealt with this crisis, think through how you can share what you and your family learned with others. Consider how you might be able to help them manage the hurt, loss, fear or loneliness they might be carrying inside.

Grow- The final stage is to remember we made it through that terrible time. We survived. We moved on. We are a people of faith and hope and we came together and helped each other grow stronger as a nation. Think of the countless ways whole communities came together. People donated blood. They gave money to the Salvation Army or to their church and reached out to neighbors and friends with words of hope. America grew stronger through that crisis, and you likely grew stronger as well.

Terrorists do things to make you afraid. Panic is what they hope to accomplish.


2. Use caution with overexposure to media images

The images of burned bodies pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in Manhattan were some of the worst images most Americans will ever see. Parents should limit their exposure to watching images of the attacks, and especially prevent young children or seniors from seeing too much. Each of these images represent a family devastated by tragedy, and it doesn’t help your family to dwell on another family in pain as a form of entertainment. Pray for them, but don’t just sit idly and watch because there may be a deep fear in children of “when will terrorism happen to me?” Another significant factor is that overexposure to graphic images creates a sense of mental "numbness" that desensitizes other emotions. I believe it is an act of human dignity to not watch others pain as a form of entertainment. We should feel pity for the deceased, instead of watching them like someone would watch an action adventure movie. This type of reverence helps the victims feel respected instead of exploited.


3. Avoid extended periods of aloneness

Isolation is one of the most dangerous behaviors during a tragedy. Spending too much time alone is not recommended, because the combination of remembering the trauma along with excessive aloneness leads to feeling overanxious, fearful and panic-stricken. It is mentally healthy to be around other supportive people. After the attacks churches, synagogues, social service agencies and hotlines were swamped with discussion groups, counseling and supportive words to heal. It is essential to be around other healthy adults. Children especially need to feel secure and have access to loved ones. If you live alone, this is an important time to reach out to neighbors or others near your home. Crisis requires real relationship, so remember to reach out beyond social networks, and church is a great place to start.


4. Strategies to help children

Children look to their parents for support and encouragement during any crisis. The following is a guide to help parents and teachers manage the flood of emotions that may come up during the anniversary of the attacks.

Ages birth-6
It is recommended that children under the age of six not be given exposure to major traumatic events. Children of this age draw their support from their parents, so if the parents or guardians feel safe and secure, the children will as well. Parents should speak calmly around children about bad things that happen in the world, and that "we will remember the people that were hurt in our prayers." If the parents are able to maintain a sense of calmness, children will feel safe.

Ages 6-12
Children this age are more aware of the world around them, yet still need moms and dads to shield them from most of the bad news in our world. Very limited exposure to the media is recommended at this stage, with more open discussions about any fears or insecurities that the child is feeling. Talking is encouraged for this age group, or write letters to emergency workers to thank them for helping the victims. Drawing pictures allows for healthy emotional expression, and something everyone needs is just being held close. A hug helps bring security to a child. Also remember to have special times of prayer. These steps help children better deal with their fears about bad things that happen in the world.

Ages 12-18
Young people have their own impressions of traumatic events. The older they are, the more likely they will have strong opinions, and it is normal for them to process their feelings with friends. This should be balanced with family, teachers, pastors or counselors. They need time to verbally process how they feel about what happened ten years ago. Special emphasis should be placed on helping this age group talk through the issues and how it impacted them and not stay isolated. Silence is a warning sign that the crisis events of the past have been internalized. Strict limits on over exposure of media is essential to prevent anxiety or panic levels from rising.


Warning Signs.
Stress signs of overexposure to painful memories from the past may occur immediately after the trauma or even a few years later. These signs are indicators that stress is beginning to overwhelm the individual. The longer the stress symptoms occur, the greater the severity of the traumatic event on the individual. This does not imply craziness or weakness rather it indicates that the memories are too powerful for the person to manage by themselves. Adults or children who display many of the following stress symptoms may need additional help dealing with the events of the crisis. They should seek the appropriate medical or psychological assistance.

Physical:Chills, thirst, fatigue, nausea, fainting, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, chest pain, headaches, elevated Blood Pressure, rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, shock symptoms, etc.

Emotional:Fear, guilt, grief, panic, denial, anxiety, irritability, depression, apprehension, emotional shock, feeling overwhelmed, loss of emotional control, etc.

Cognitive:Confusion, nightmares, uncertainty, hyper-vigilance, suspiciousness, intrusive images, poor problem solving, poor abstract thinking, poor attention/memory and concentration, disorientation of time, places or people, difficulty identifying objects or people, heightened or lowered alertness, etc.

Behavioral:Withdrawal, antisocial acts, inability to rest, intensified pacing, erratic movements, changes in social activity, changes in speech patterns, loss of or increase of appetite, increased alcohol consumption, etc.

When in doubt, contact your pastor, a physician or certified mental health professional. It is important to actively deal with any painful past emotions to find strength to cope with issues in the present. Remember there are caring people who can help you. You never have to go through a crisis alone.


Bottom line discussion issues for growth. Think about and discuss these issues with others…

· How you have changed since the terrorist attacks?

· How you and your family are different since then?

· Talk about what was important to you on the day of the attacks… and what is important to you today.

· Share how grateful you are for God’s protection these last 10 years, and then think about the peace you can have about the future since God is always closer to you than you could ever imagine.


-------------------------------------------------

About the Author: Dwight Bain has dedicated his life to guide people toward greater results as an Author, Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Life Coach. He worked as a crisis counselor at Ground Zero in New York City after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and has worked with crisis management teams for over 30 years. For more Christian life management resources visit Dwight’s blog with over 300 helpful articles and special reports designed to save you time by solving stressful problems at www.LifeworksGroup.org or follow along @ www.FaceBook.com/DwightBain

Biblical Strategies to Let Go of Loneliness

By Dwight Bain


The Bible has a great deal to say about the subject of loneliness, which is one of the most common, and painful emotions that 1 in every 4 Americans experience. Here are a number of strategies to help you, or someone you care about. No matter how lonely you feel, never forget God loves you and when you reach out to Him you will never be alone.



1. Reach out to others
For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. Romans 14:7

2. Let go of disappointment
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15

3. Find other lonely people to connect with, since lonely people are everywhere
I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 2 Timothy 1:3-4

4. Take strategic action to reach out to others
(texts, instant messages, letters, calls, visits, meals, committees, etc)


Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14


5. Look for ways to show God’s love to others
(shop for groceries, prepare a meal, carpool, send an encouraging card or note to someone, help someone complete a task, give someone a small gift like flowers, cookies, bookmark, or even sharing a magazine article then meeting to talk about it)

6. Show random acts of kindness without expecting anything in return
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. -John 15:13

7. Don’t demand that others change to meet your needs, you change first
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. - Psalm 62:5

8. Find a Bible study or church group and get involved
Don’t give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:25

9. Study the life of people who aren’t lonely and follow their example
You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. - 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7

10. Connect to Christian media, especially Christian Radio
My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. - Psalm 57:7

11. Break old patterns so that others can know you by getting involved
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. Psalm 33:3

12. Read your Bible and memorize verses to feel connected to God
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Psalm 107:19-20

13. Track your journey in a journal
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. - Isaiah 43:18-19

14. Trust God to lead you
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” - Deuteronomy 31:8


About the author:
Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Author and Life Coach specializing in bringing positive change to highly complex situations. He is a life-long resident of Orlando, Florida ere he lives with his wife Sheila and their two children. Find more of his practical resources on managing emotions and building relationships visit www.LifeworksGroup.org Or call 407.647.7005 for more information on how the LifeWorks Group can help you build a better quality of life.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Marriage Counseling: Cheap Date Nights

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

There is a conversation between Harry and Jess who are married male friends in the movie “When Harry Met Sally” during a football game in which one of them says to the other, “I got married so I could stop dating”. Too often we are under the same assumption that once you are married you do not need to date your spouse. After all, dating is work and it requires your time, energy, focus, money, a fun plan and a good attitude. And when you are married, you already know the good, the bad and the ugly so why go through all that effort?


Why? Because your spouse deserves to see the best of you and to see the person they fell in love with in the beginning. This is what helps to keep a marriage interesting and adds spice to your relationship. However one of the biggest objections to dating your spouse again especially in this economy is the cost. So to help your relationship out, here are some favorite cheap date nights.


Matinee movies – Who said your date needed to be at night? Many movie theatres offer discounts for early movies, if you look hard enough you might be able to find movies for under $5.00.

Breakfast out instead of dinner – Generally speaking, eating breakfast out instead of dinner is far less expensive and can be just as enjoyable.

Library movies – You can borrow movies and TV shows for free at your local library. Just purchase the popcorn, candy and drinks at a grocery store and you can have your date night at home.

Go to the airport, mall, or local attraction to people watch – This can be a fun activity as you can sit and watch others go on their way, making up stories about their lives just for fun.

Purchase special bath soaps and massage oils – Do a little reading about how to give a good massage and exchange massages with each other. Do not forget a fragrant candle to enhance the mood.

Free outdoor concerts – Most cities have free outdoor concerts that you can enjoy the atmosphere even if the music is not up to your taste.

Picnic at the park – Pack a picnic basket and go to a local park for an enjoyable time together. Taking a walk afterwards is a nice touch.

Be a tourist – Find a tourist activity in your town or city that you have not done and spend some time there. Often, there are discounts for residents.

Flea market shopping – Walking around a flea market and look at the fun and interesting items that are for sale. Sample some of the local food for a change of pace.

Walk or bike around the neighborhood – Just getting out of the house and walking or riding down a different street than your normal route can help to change up things.

Appetizer/desert meal – Make a meal out of a shared appetizer and desert instead of opting for the more expensive entree. This can be a great way to try out a new restaurant or sample food at a more expensive one.

Night out with friends – Some of the best dates are nights when you go over to a friend’s house and hang out with a couple of other married couples. The entertainment is often your conversation and everyone pitches in with a different part of the meal.

There is one idea for each month of the year, so you can at least begin with one date per month and increase your dates to once a week. The extra effort in dating your spouse even on a budget will in the long run improve your marriage though shared experiences and help you to remember the things which first attracted you to each other.


----------------------------


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, September 01, 2011

“Show Me the Car Facts: Tips for Teaching Your Teen to Drive”

By Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS


It’s that time. Yes, THAT time. The moment you have dreaded for years. It is time to teach your teenager how to drive. It is the time for you to step into two tons of glass, steel and plastic and hand the keys to someone who, fairly recently, needed you to tie their shoelaces for them. It is the time for digging your fingers into the car door, pushing a brake pedal that is not there, and using a paper bag to cope with hyperventilating.

Yet someone, somewhere made up a rule that said a person with out-of-control hormones, a still-developing brain, and very poor impulse control should have the privilege of driving.

All kidding aside, teaching teenagers the art of driving can be very anxiety-provoking for many parents. Because of this, learning to drive can also be very anxiety-provoking for many teens as well. That’s not so good because the last person I want to be on the road with is one who lacks confidence and has the anxiety levels of a first-time skydiver.

I see many teens who feel frightened of driving and unprepared to take their test. They are full of exaggerated fears and irrational ideas about how incapable they are to take the road. I’ve even counseled teens who had severe anxiety attacks during their driving test. Where do they get such fears? Unfortunately, it almost always comes from their parents. Often, the anxiety that the parent feels projects itself onto the teenager. This is not a formula for successful drivers training.

So allow me to make some suggestions that might help you, as a parent, as you endeavor to help your teenager take to the road:

Encouragement…Not Anxiety: Make a concerted effort not to overreact to any mistake your teenager makes on the road. I know this is not always easy and sometimes, obviously, you will have to react strongly. But if you don’t have to because of safety, refrain from doing so. Your teenager already feels a huge amount of pressure and anxiety as it is. Adding parental anxiety to the picture is going to make for an insecure and fearful young driver. Instead, actively look for things they are doing well. Even if it’s as small as, “hey, I liked the way you checked your mirrors” or “you’re really doing well” contribute to them feeling more at ease. When they do make mistakes talk to them calmly about what happened and how they could have done it differently. There is a good chance they already know they erred. Make driver’s training a time of mentoring and bonding, not a time that always digresses into yelling, crying, and the slamming of doors.

Lead…Don’t Lecture: Try to stop yourself from long, fact-filled lecture before you leave the house. Your teen will forget a lot of it once they get into the car and, again, it adds pressure. Instead, you might give them one or two pre-driving trips that are easy to remember. Then, offer tips as they are driving. That way they can get the feel of what you’re talking about and see it for themselves. Nothing can replace actual driving when it comes to understanding and confidence.

Teaching a teen to drive doesn’t have to be a nightmare for either of you. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally, remember you want them to succeed, and have fun with it.


----------------------------

Aaron Welch is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor and certified sex offender treatment specialist. He strives to fight for the hearts of his clients and empower them to build a legacy that impacts the world. He is part of a team of experts at “The Lifeworks Group, Inc”. For more information about Aaron or Lifeworks, please visit www.lifeworksgroup.org or call us at 407-647-7005.

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, 2004-2010), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"