Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ready or Not… Here Come the Holidays!

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Do the holidays catch you by surprise every year as if they came in the middle of the night sneaking up on you while you slept? Do you feel tired and overwhelmed at just the thought of the next “fun” family gathering? Do the Christmas colors of red and green remind you more of anger and money instead of holly and wreaths? Too often expectations of anticipated holiday traditions tend to get in the way of truly enjoying the events as you desperately try to be or to do things inconsistent with your normal life. Here is a look at three expectations that may need to be examined before this holiday season hits.

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly”. For many, the holidays are all about the decorations and not just a few candles or one tree but numerous trees (one main pretty tree, one with the kid’s school made ornaments, small ones for each of kid’s rooms, and sometimes a couple small ones for outside accompanying the full manger scene), wreaths on the windows and doors, garland on doorposts and furniture, red slipcovers and pillows for the sofas and chairs, boxes and boxes of decorations for every room of the house and of course lights, lots of lights both inside and out. Tired yet? The expectation for the holidays is to decorate all of your living and working areas, but is this expectation one tradition you really want to pass on? Instead, how about letting someone else do the decorating and take a much needed vacation during the holidays, maybe it will become your best new tradition yet.

“Tis the season to be jolly”. Do not forget the parties. Beginning in September your calendar begins to fill up with various events, school performances, church performances, and parties with friends, family and co-workers to be attended during the holiday season all with an abundance of food. Each of the celebrations brings an expectation that you are happy and joyful for the holidays and are eagerly waiting celebrating the event. Yet if you truly examine yourself, the extra added activities and sadly calories to your daily routine may actually work against efforts to thoroughly enjoying it. Instead of saying “Yes” to every invitation, limit the number of invitations or events that your family will attend now and then agree as a family that you will decide together which ones to attend and which ones to decline.

“Sing we joyous, all together”. In the end, the holidays are supposed to bring you closer together with your families and friends, at least that is the expectation, but do they really? In the over indulgence of decorations, food, family and friends, you are sadly bonding together in excessiveness but not in the things that really matter. Broken families and friendships coming together for what should be a joyous celebration pretending that nothing is wrong or that the past did not happen can be painful, unproductive, and worse may cause more tension than joy. If your Santa wish list includes not facing someone, how about taking a break for one year from having to see them? Or better yet, use the time together to resolve differences instead of pretending that they do not exist.

Take a moment to examine your traditions and see if they match with your expectations for the holidays. While there is no guarantee that changing your expectations and in some cases your traditions will increase your joyfulness during the holidays, it will at the very least improve your attitude and perspective so the holidays don’t catch you by surprise.


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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, October 18, 2011

Teamwork at its Finest: Lessons Learned from Teens

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Every now and then you get a chance to witness teamwork operating at its finest. Usually this is found in sophisticated work environments or in places where adults have known one another for a long period of time. I however have found it at a high school with a group of seniors who have come from a variety of backgrounds with enormous variations in economic and social status.

As a group, there is nothing special that stands out among them as evident in their number of 29 with the majority of them being males. With the exception of a few, they are not the most intelligent, athletic or popular class. Their personal interests are varied from medical school to marines, from marine biology to hunting, from football to dance, and from art to engineering. Yet they get along with surprising contentment for their differences. How? There are three observations as to how they have accomplished this task.

Servant leadership. One of the most striking features of this group is their ability to transfer leadership from one to another depending on the circumstances. On the football field, one senior is the leader, in the classroom another senior is the leader, and when planning the social functions yet another senior is the leader. The overall attitude of the group is to serve one another by serving the interests of the entire group instead of an individual. Thus they are more willing to accept alternative leaders from within their class and work together by pooling from each person’s strengths instead of competing for center stage.

Respect for each other. To be sure, there are times when there is tension in the group and one person feels disrespected by another, there may even be an occasional disagreement. But when there is a disagreement, instead of taking sides, the group tends to encourage each one to come back to the group and not allow the disagreement to destroy the unity. This in turn allows an individual to admit their faults, feel accepted and more importantly prevents them from “losing face” in front of their peers. In the end, all is forgiven and respect for each other is willingly returned.

Focus on the group. The above two observations occur when all the members of the group understand the value in preserving a group and creating a teamwork environment. Strangely enough, the desire for teamwork was not accomplished by taking personality assessments or listening to a speaker, instead the desire grew by witnessing how a lack of teamwork affects the individuals of a group. As a result, by seeing what they did not want to become, they were motivated to move past the petty circumstantial issues and focus more on what is best for the group as a whole.

So who is this exceptional group of young individuals who have managed to learn significant life lessons about teamwork? They are the current seniors at Foundation Academy, a private Christian school, in Winter Garden, Florida and without exception they are all extraordinary students not just for their individual accomplishments but also for their group mentality. Isn’t it nice to hear about the positive impact of a group of teens can make in their culture instead of the negative impact of so many others?


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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, October 17, 2011

“Someone Please Help Me: Empowering Our Kids to Cope With Bullies”

By Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

I know what it’s like to be bullied. Before I grew into my body I remember what it was like to be shamed and humiliated; to feel alone and powerless; to feel afraid to go to school every day, knowing I might be pushed down or punched or verbally berated. It’s not a good feeling. In fact, it was awful. I felt lonely, depressed and powerless to stop it.

Until I was 14.

I remember that day vividly in my mind. It was winter so I was wearing a toboggan hat, heavy blue coat and extremely thick blue gloves. I don’t know why, really, but something clicked. One of the guys who regularly pushed me around threw me into my school locker for no good reason. That’s when it happened. Something in my brain suddenly told me that it would be better to get beat up that day than to be shamed; to know that I cowered before him and was humiliated in front of everyone in the hall. I pushed him back. At first he was shocked and then he raised his fist to raise the bar of intimidation. He told me he was going to punch me. But I was a different person at that moment. I raised my fist and told him he was welcome to hit me but I was going to hit him back if he did. He walked away. Something changed in me that day. Seriously, it was as if a button in my brain was pushed and I had simply had enough. I really had reached a point where I knew it was better to take a beating than to continue to be the target of the wolf pack known as middle and high school boys. It was empowering to stand up to that guy and it changed me…forever.

But that was then…….this is now.

In spite of the increased awareness by schools and legislature, bullying is still a major issue in the lives of kids. It seems like almost every week that we hear of a teenager taking his or her own life because they just couldn’t stand the constant bullying by their peers. There are web sites entirely devoted to the memory of teens that took their own lives rather than continue to face the horrendous treatment dished out by their peers. Many of those teens reached a point of despair because they felt powerless to stop the bullying. Teens sometimes report that they believed that they couldn’t get help from their schools, their friends or anyone else. I have talked to several who felt powerless because to fight back meant being suspended, expelled, or facing even greater violence but to NOT fight back meant constant emotional pain and humiliation. When I was being bullied I only had to worry about being at school. Now, teens are stalked by bullies who follow them into Facebook, texting and even onto X-box Live. These days bullies have almost unlimited access to their targets. A teenager who is being bullied often feels they cannot escape because of this ever-present harassment.

Unfortunately, many of these kids also suffer in silence. Many refuse to tell those who might be able to help them (school administration, parents, etc). Whether it is because of fear, shame, or believing nobody can help, they stuff all those negative emotions down inside; a horrible way to cope as all that negative emotion begins to build up a volcano-like amount of pressure that eventually blows. It might explode into rage and violence towards others or anxiety attacks and nervous breakdowns…or it might lead to taking their own life.

Our kids need our help. They need parents, schools, law enforcement, attorneys, politicians, pastors, coaches and counselors who are willing to attack this issue head-on rather than burying our heads in the sand and hoping that it will pass. Someone has to protect the kids who don’t believe they can protect themselves. These kids need to be empowered to cope with bullies. They must believe that there is a way out…that there is hope.

So here are ten warning signs that may show up in a kid who is being bullied:

• A sudden drop in grades

• A noticeable change in personality: your outgoing teen suddenly becomes quiet and reserved.

• Not wanting to go to school or pretending to be sick in order to stay home; especially if this is a new behavior

• Isolation and withdrawal

• Wanting to sleep with parents or in parents room (clinging for security)

• Pervasive sadness

• Physical marks or bruises that are not accounted for

• Withdrawal from Facebook or X-box Live; staying away from online interaction

• Expressing a desire to change schools or move without adequate explanation

• A spike in anxiety: trouble with sleeping or eating/panic attacks



But what can parents do if they suspect their child is being bullied? What are steps that one can take to protect and empower their kids? Here are some tips:

A continued focus on good communication: create an environment where your kids know they can talk to you, even about sensitive issues.

Ask your child: About every 3 months check in with your child. Ask them if anyone has tried to touch them inappropriately or if they are being bullied. Give them an opportunity to tell you without shame.

Request a conference at school. Ask specifically that the principal be involved right from the beginning. This increases accountability.

If the bullying does not stop, ask the school for a “no contact contract” in which the bully is not allowed to be around your child.

If the bullying has entered the cyber world, report it to Facebook or a system administrator on X-box. If it does not help, pull your child off of those social networks until the bullying is stopped. This is not to punish your child but to protect them from the constant emotional pain of being bullied.

If the bullying continues after these steps, ask for another meeting with the school and express how serious the issue has become.

If nothing helps, find an attorney who specializes in bullying behavior. They can help you to protect your child through legal channels.

Continually ensure your child that they are not being a hassle and that you are totally behind them. Do NOT get frustrated and tell them they just need to “toughen up” or have “thicker skin.”

Find healthy places for your child to invest in. Find a club or youth group where they will be accepted and can build a social network for support; even if it means a group that has kids from other schools.

Find a professional counselor who specializes in adolescents. This is a positive step that should be included early in the process. It is a safe place for your child to share with someone who is not their parents. It also incorporates a professional to be a part of the process of protecting your child.

Our kids should not walk around in fear. They should never reach the point of believing that it would be better to die than to face another day of being bullied. But they can’t do it alone. They need parents and others who will walk the journey with them; people who remind them just how valuable and loved they are. Most of all, they need those who can show them hope for a brighter future. WE are those people.

Let us not hesitate to answer the call.



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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"

Forgive, Forgive, and when you don’t know what else to do, Forgive again

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH


I would be out of a job if husbands forgave wives, wives forgave husbands, children forgave their parents, siblings forgave one another, friends forgave each other, workers forgave their bosses and nations forgave nations. Imagine for a moment a child forgiving a parent who verbally belittled them instead of harboring that resentment well into adulthood and either repeating that pattern with their own children or worse internalizing the thoughtless comment. Imagine a worker forgiving their boss for taking undeserved credit for a job well done instead of finding ways to even the score. “Impossible” you say?

Signs of unforgiveness are everywhere in our culture. Just turn on a talk show any day of the week and you will hear story after story of one person who believes they are justified in their anger. And sadly, sometimes they are justified but there is a better way. If we can identify the early warning signs of unforgiveness in our own lives and learn to forgive others before they ask or even if they never ask for forgiveness, then our own lives will be blessed.

Angry Outbursts. Have you ever been around someone who just blew up over what seems like nothing and you are left wondering what just happened? Their outburst may be a sign of unforgiveness in their own life; something you might have said or something you might have done may have triggered a memory completely unrelated to the event itself and their outburst has more to do with the past then the present. But here’s the kicker…you need to forgive their outburst even if you don’t fully understand who, what, where, why, and how. Otherwise, you are likely to fall into the next category.

Cold Shoulder. Have you ever gotten the cold shoulder from a friend and you don’t know what is happening? Or better yet, someone pretends not to know you when you know perfectly well that they do know you. The cold shoulder routine may be another sign of unforgiveness in their life as they would rather stuff the issue then address it openly. This is a favorite tactic of most married couples as one spouse ignores or minimizes communication with the other. The one doing the ignoring is the one who is harboring unforgiveness. But here’s the kicker…you need to forgive their cold shoulder routine even if you don’t fully understand who, what, where, why, and how. Otherwise, you will be as guilty as them.

Gossip. Have you ever been around someone who says they are just trying to inform or warn you of someone else? Or perhaps, they are more spiritual in their tactic by saying they are just trying to find out how to specifically pray for someone else. Any way you look at it, this is gossip and unforgiveness is at the root. The person gossiping is actually distracting themselves and others away from their own issues in an attempt to look better. This is the worst type of unforgiveness as it is internal, revealing they have not forgiven themselves for an offense. So here’s the kicker…you need to forgive their gossip to show them that they are worthy of forgiveness and perhaps help them to learn how to forgive themselves.

As I am writing this article, my own lack of forgiveness for others becomes all too glaringly obvious. The best way I know how to forgive is to pray and turn it over to God. Sometimes I write it down and then destroy the paper as a demonstration of my forgiveness but mostly I just pray. Having received forgiveness for my own faults as a believer in Jesus Christ, I welcome the opportunity to show forgiveness to others, even if they never ask.


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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, October 11, 2011

Managing ADD/ADHD: Where are my keys?

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH


Quite possibly my favorite trait of an ADD/ADHD person is their ability to misplace so many important things in a variety of places. One would surmise that as time goes on, the number of places that their sun glasses, cell phone, wallet, homework or keys would land would be limited or at the very least consistent with previous locations but this is not the case. Rather, those with an advantage of ADD/ADHD seem to have an unlimited number of new and creative locations for their most basic and most frequently used items.

Not only is the location of the keys creative, but at the moment of initial placement, it is also logical and systematic. The difficulty lies in remembering the logic of the location instead of the actual location because the logic of the location is the right key needed to solve the end mystery. This key concept can then be transferred to other traits of difficulty for those blessed with ADD/ADHD.

Bigger than life dreams. Spend a little time asking a person with ADD/ADHD about their dreams for the future and you are likely to become almost intoxicated by their passion. They seem to have an ability to see past the mundane to the larger picture and have no fear of inserting themselves at the center. This ability can cause difficulty when they are so distracted by the future that they minimize the importance of doing the smaller tasks to reach the future. For instance, a person who wants to attend Princeton University (big picture) needs to get good grades (medium picture) and their homework needs to be completed (smaller picture). By applying the logic of achieving the larger picture to measurable medium and smaller pictures, the larger picture becomes more realistic to achieve.

Danger while driving. Have you ever gotten into the passenger’s side of a car only to find yourself more frightened by the driver’s driving then going upside down and backwards on a roller coaster at 60 M.P.H.? Not that every ADD/ADHD person is a dangerous driver, but they do tend to take a few more risks and are prone to become more distracted by their cell phone, other drivers, radio, and even just talking. Amazingly, their quick reflexes and ability to think fast are precisely what makes them a better than average driver but that still does not minimize the anxiety you feel in the passenger’s seat. Again, logic is your new best friend as you survey the car for any potential distractions and then systematically reduce the number. Also, engaging an ADD/ADHD person in a conversation that they are passionate about will help them to better focus on their driving and as a side benefit, they sometimes slow down.

Non-stop channel surfing. Once you surrender the TV remote to a person with ADD/ADHD you are not likely to get it back without a fight. After all, there may be a better program on then the one already being watched and commercials are designed for channel surfing. Just when you believe that they have decided on one station, wait a few more minutes and it will change again. This constant checking of better stations plays out in other areas of their lives with the constant changing of passionate and almost obsessive interests from one to another. Once again, logic can help as you gently and carefully display the already abandoned interests and inquire if selling of some of the old interests can help to fund the new interests.

Managing ADD/ADHD behavior is more effectively done if you spend a little time trying to find the logic in their thinking before you respond to help. More importantly however is for you not to help unless they ask for your help as many with ADD/ADHD value their independence and would prefer to look for their keys by themselves even if they are grumbling about the keys being lost.



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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, October 10, 2011

How to Fight Fair and Win an Argument

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH


Have you ever had a fight with your computer? Everything is going fine one minute and the next thing you know the computer begins to act up. It starts with one program and then leads to another. You fight back by shutting down the dysfunctional program and trying to control or anticipate the next problem. It retaliates back by doing something new and unexpected and before you realize what is happening you are doing battle with an inanimate object and sadly it is winning.

If fighting with an inanimate object is frustrating, try fighting with a human. You begin on one topic and before you know it you are on another topic that has nothing to do with the original topic and you can’t even remember why you were fighting in the first place. Talk about unpredictable and frustrating. However, it does not have to be this way. There is a better way to fight if you think of it in terms of how you handle your computer properly.

Pay attention to the problem at hand. Just because your computer is acting up does not mean that the entire computer is bad or that it must be replaced. It just means that something is not working and it needs your attention. Just as you look for the underlying issue with your computer troubles, so you should look for the underlying issue at the root of your fight. If the underlying issue is fear, then address the fear; if the underlying issue is guilt or shame, then address the guilt or shame. Focus your efforts on the one area that is not working instead of all of the other areas, just as you would focus on your computer problem and not your office problem, your relationship problem, your car problem, and any other problem that you may have.

Patience, patience, patience. Banging on your computer or pressing multiple buttons at one time when your computer is acting up will not solve your issue but it will most likely add to your troubles. When fighting, be patient with yourself and the other person just as you would be patient with your computer. Getting angry at the computer for acting up will not stop it from acting up and getting angry with the person you are fighting with will not minimize the tension but add to it. Just as having an “I’m in charge” attitude with your computer is unproductive so is having an “I’m in charge” attitude with the other person unproductive. Even if they are in an insubordinate role, forcing someone to comply will only aggravate the problem.

Press the restart button. When all else fails, press the restart button on your fighting just as you would on your computer. Instead of continuing to fight, choose to walk away and come back to the issue later when emotions have calmed down. The key is to come back later to the issue; walking away and not addressing the issue is as unproductive as never turning on your computer again just because it did not work that one time. It is even more important to come back to the person with an attitude of working out the issue and not with an attitude of “I’m right and you are wrong”. If you went to your computer and said, “I’m right and you are wrong” do you think it would respond better? No. So if you treat an inanimate object with respect, how much more respect should you treat another human being.

You have a winning relationship with your computer when you learn to address the problems and not ignore the warning signs that something is wrong. Your relationships are similar when you take the focus off of yourself and focus instead on meeting the needs of the other person. Winning a fight is not about getting your way, it is about coming to a realization that we are all in this process of life together.

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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, October 06, 2011

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

In the Shadow of the Mouse: Relocation Stress in Orlando, Florida

By: Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

Ah yes…Orlando, Florida, the land of dreams. A place where the magic of Disney permeates the community; where residents sing instead of talk, where children laugh and play without fear, where bluebirds regularly land on our shoulders. This is the city of hope and joy; where each person cares about the other; where hugs are frequent and neighbors are prized. Yes, Orlando is the happiest place on earth…or so I thought before I moved here.

However, for many who have moved to Orlando, the transition has been anything but joyful. When our expectations are high our disappointments, when those expectations are unmet, can often shake us to the core. That is what commonly happens to new residents of Orlando. In reality, many people who move here find Orlando to be disconnected, uncaring, and angry. In fact, a 2006 article by “Men’s Health” ranked Orlando as the #1 angriest city in America. That may shock those of you who live elsewhere but, to those of us who live here, it is no surprise. The traffic here is maddening. Our city combines tourists, retirees, those from other countries, unpredictable weather and constant new residents, resulting in very dangerous driving patterns. New residents often find it difficult to connect with people, maybe for the first time in their lives. This can lead to depression, loneliness and a feeling that one does not belong. In speaking with those who struggle here I have found that Orlando is regarded as “too slow” by many who come from the larger cities such as New York or Boston and yet it is “too fast and urban” for many who move from the Midwest. The transient nature of the city also factors into the difficulties. People move in and out of Orlando so often that it makes building connections much more complicated. Just when a person believes they know their neighbors and that he is building a social network those friends often relocate to another city or return to their home of origin. Because of the constant changes in social dynamics people are, in many instances, more leery of beginning friendships that go beyond the superficial. Frequently, people become callous because of losing so many friends over the years and, therefore, become less likely to expose themselves to that hurt again. Consequently, relationships here can be shallow, leaving people feeling empty more than connected.

So, yes, we have Disney and Universal Studios and Sea World and so much more for those who travel here on vacation; but for those who relocate here it is often a struggle.

Truth be told, this was my experience in moving here. Coming from a small town in Ohio I was used to connecting with ease. Back in Ohio we basically wave at everybody, whether we know them or not (a habit that has garnered me several strange looks in this city). People tend to have deep roots in the Midwest and so we lean towards being more laid back and interested in building long-term relationships. When I moved to Orlando, I knew it would take some time to establish myself but I assumed that it would be just as easy to fit in here as it had always been elsewhere. I was wrong. For years I hated Orlando. That’s the honest truth. I found Orlando to be unfriendly and too urban and fast-paced for my liking. Connecting with people in a meaningful way felt impossible which was all very new to me. There were so many times that I wanted to “get while the getting was good.” But God had other ideas. He kept me here and began to show me the way. He began to lead me into connection. Doors opened for me in my career and ministry that can only be described as oases in the desert. That was a huge step; finding a place to plug-in as far as ministry. But I still felt lonely and disliked living here. I told God as such….several times…….but He was patient with my complaining. What finally broke for me in this struggle for connection was that my family and I plugged in to our local Little League program. I began to coach my son’s team and also became one of the league’s umpires. I love baseball and began meeting people who loved it as well. From that league we began an adult softball league, which was also a passion of mine in Ohio. I began to meet more and more like-minded individuals and awesome families. It was amazing because most of them would tell us that they felt the same way we did, disconnected and lonely, until they joined this community league.

Now, years later, I have grown to love our community. I still hate the hot summers here, mind you, and I miss the fall and winter weather from up north (I know……I’m insane). However, my family has a place now…….and we have begun to build really solid friendships with some great families. Finally…Orlando feels like home.
But enough about me.

Over the years I have met more and more people who feel the same; out of touch, disconnected, lonely and depressed. Maybe you are one of those people. Relocating to Orlando can be very stressful, in spite of “The Mouse.” Let me offer some tips that I hope help you in this journey:

Realize that you are not alone: It can feel that way here. Families can suddenly feel that they are unlovable or that they are the only ones who cannot seem to make friends here. It’s not true. In my counseling and even in my personal life I have met SO MANY people who feel the same way. You are in good company.

Don’t take it personally: Because there are lots of people dealing with the same types of relocation stress you must realize that it isn’t primarily about you. The dynamics of Orlando can lead one to begin to doubt themselves, as if something is wrong with them. Don’t buy into that. The truth is that what you’re feeling has far more to do with the characteristics presented in this article than it does about you personally.

Be sensitive to your family: One thing I have found in my practice is that children and teenagers especially struggle when they move here. I have seen the same scenario played out again and again: Dad moves here for a new job and the majority of his time goes into that. Mom does her best to get the household in order but is also dealing with loneliness and a general feeling of being overwhelmed. In the midst of this, the parents don’t realize that their kids are experiencing the same difficult emotions that come from relocation stress and often have a more difficult time dealing with them. Kids don’t always know how to express those kinds of emotions and so they act out. Their grades drop for the first time ever, they become more isolated, their attitude becomes more belligerent, and they pull away from the family. Many times the parents chock this up to just being part of “the teen years” or a phase their kids are going through. Parents sometimes minimize the problem even as their kids are deeply struggling from the move. Over time, the kids start seeking out relief in various unhealthy forms and then the whole family has a big problem. It is a painful thing to watch. If you have moved to Orlando or are planning to, please have a plan for helping your kids with the move. Keep communication lines open and realize that kids struggle more than they let on. Don’t allow relocation stress to destroy your family.

Seek out natural connection points: My hope is that you implement these strategies sooner than I did. Begin immediately to look for places where everyone in the family can connect. The way to do that is to seek out activities and groups that are interested in the same things you are. For me, it was our local Little League. Have a family discussion about what yours might be. If you like camping, check out the Boy Scouts. Find a way to get your kids into the sports they have always loved. Find a church home that feels like a place you could connect with others. Join a gym. Whatever the specifics are, find a place where you can find connection with others who enjoy the things you do. A great place to look for those kinds of groups is on www. Meetup.com.

Expect it to take time: You must have realistic expectations when you move here. This was difficult for me. I had never had a problem in connecting with others so I expected Orlando to be no different. It’s not. The dynamics are far different here so expect it to take you longer than usual to build those connections. If it doesn’t take long, WONDERFUL, but set your expectations in a way that doesn’t lead to frustration and depression. If the stress overwhelms you or a member of your family, seek out a good counselor or life coach who can lead you on this path.


So is Orlando a preview of what Hades might be like? I thought so for a while. But it’s not. If you follow these tips, Orlando can become your new home before you know it. So, c’mon down! The Mouse is waiting.


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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.

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