Monday, April 23, 2012

What is Behind Senioritis?

By: Christine Hammond, MS, IMH

Do you have a senior from high school or college who seems to have shut down and is no longer productive? Maybe they were productive in the past but now they are procrastinating, their grades are sliding, they don’t care about the things that mattered to them in the past and their tempers seem to be higher than normal. Or perhaps they seem to negatively obsess over a class, another student, or a family member. In short, your senior is different and not for the better.

Change is difficult for most people and transitioning from a high school student to a college student or from a college student into the workforce can be more change than they are prepared to handle. Stress levels are high whenever someone moves but add to that a change in status, change in environments, change in friendships, and change in expectations. Now you have a recipe for one stressed out senior. So how can you help? By paying attention to their behavior and acting accordingly you can alleviate some of the pressure.

Shutting down. One reason a senior shuts down is because they are overwhelmed with anticipation over what is expected from them in the future. Perhaps they have a scholarship to a college or job offers lined up and are anxious about living up to these new standards. So instead of finishing strong, they retreat to a protective shell of sorts and stop performing altogether. Begin by helping them admit that they are anxious and then try talking about a back-up plan if Plan A does not work to alleviate some of the anticipated pressure. Finally, inspect your own expectations to ensure they are realistic and not unrealistic.

Procrastinating. While one senior stops working altogether another one slows down their productivity to a crawl and frequently missed deadlines they would normally meet. This procrastinating may be a sign that they are nervous about the upcoming change and they are trying to delay the change by moving slower. At the subconscious level they are dragging everything out to make it last longer. Unfortunately time moves on regardless of our actions. Begin by helping them admit to the sadness they are feeling and allow them to reflect on the things they will miss going forward. Give them the opportunity to spend extra time with their friends so they can begin the process of saying good-bye.

Negative obsessing. Some seniors finish strong but seem to put all of their passions and negative energy attacking a class, teacher, fellow student or family member. They obsess over things that never bothered them before and act in a manner inconsistent with their personality. These students hyper focus their energy on one or two things to distract them from the negative feelings associated with their change. Begin by identifying their target of negative energy and remind them of how they managed effectively in the past with their obsession. Then discuss the other emotions such as sadness or anxiety they may be feeling and help them work through it.

Senior year can be an exciting time for students and the hope is that they will look back on their senior year with great memories. By working with your senior and helping them to identify the stressful feelings they may be experiencing you will help to ensure a good memory instead of a negative one.


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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, April 16, 2012

What if Church Was More Like an AA Meeting?

By Christine Hammond, MS, IMH

Imagine for a moment what church would be like if the Pastor or Announcer began church with, “Hello my name is ___ (fill in with name) and I’m a recovering sinner of ____ (fill in the sin)”. Would he or she be so bold to admit to their church not the mildest of sins such as a white lie but the grander sins of adultery, stealing, or a pornography addiction? Or perhaps he or she would admit to a personality disorder such as narcissism, borderline, or dependant. How different would church be if everyone was expected to be honest about their past and present and not pretend to have it all together?

Record numbers of youth are leaving the church for precisely this reason with some estimates as high as 70% of America’s youth who was brought up in church does not return as an adult. For the youth, they know that they do not have it all together and they do not want to go to a place that expects everyone to act as if they do have it all together. This trend can be changed but it requires honesty at very deep levels with friends, acquaintances and even complete strangers. Here are four things spelling CARE which AA does well in their meetings and could improve the atmosphere of any church.

Confessing sin. One of the essential elements of AA meetings is for an addict to admit their addiction and also admit if they have been tempted recently or given into temptation. Admitting your sin in front of others is hard but by doing so it holds you accountable to everyone in the room. This would be quite a moment in the church if everyone knew of your personal struggles with a particular sin. Just imagine a person struggled with gossip who admits it to the whole congregation, now the whole congregation can work on not gossiping with this person, talk about accountability!

Admitting sin is a life-long battle. Another essential element of AA is admitting that once you are an addict you will continue to be an addict. Yes God can and often does remove the desire for an addiction but He sometimes allows it to continue as a reminder that His grace is sufficient. We are all born with a sinful nature so trying to pretend that we don’t continue to struggle with sin is futile. Instead if everyone in church openly admitted to their sinful struggles, those struggling with the same sin could feel empathy instead of judgment.

Recognizing God’s grace. “I have been sober for 1203 days” is a standard statement at an AA meeting. This statement is designed as a continual reminder that each day is to be lived one day at a time and a reminder of the day they made a decision to do something different with their life. What if every believer said, “I have been saved by God’s grace for 2678 days”? How inspiring it would be for those just starting on their journey.

Exemplifying God’s love and forgiveness. Even when someone falls back into addiction, they are always welcomed back with open arms at an AA meeting. There are no new expectations, no turning away from a person who has fallen, or refusing to forgive someone who has hurt you. At an AA meeting, all is forgiven and asking for forgiveness is the only expectation. After all, we are all sinners and who among us does not need to be forgiven? What a difference it would be in church if everyone forgave one another.

What if church was more like an AA meeting? Most would respond by saying what makes AA works so well and for so long is that the people are anonymous, just first names are used. But as believers of the same God in the same church, should we not desire to show the world a different standard? A standard that welcomes sinners of all kinds, cares for the needs of its members, and unites even the strangest members. Then and only then will we have a church that embraces honesty, rejects falsehood and truly brings glory to 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.

Lessons Learned from Children: The Value of a Working Mom

By Christine Hammond, MS, IMH


Sometimes the most meaningful moment as a parent comes in the middle of another conversation, has little to nothing to do with the topic at hand and is uncharacteristically transparent. Looking back on the moment you wish there had been a bright shining light calling your attention it so you could take it more slowly and savor every second. But time marches at the same pace and without reflection, the significance of those moments is often lost and the power to heal old wounds is unrecognized.

I had such a moment with my fourteen year old son just this past week. The filter in his ADHD brain telling him not to comment on certain things is underdeveloped even for his age while his critical thinking skills far exceed his age. This combination makes for very interesting and frequently frustrating conversations and since he loves to talk there is no shortage of either. This week he shocked me with, “I’m glad that you are a working mom” and since he often complains how difficult his life is, I asked for further clarification to which he responded with the following points.

“You don’t schedule your life around me.” Talk about a shocking statement coming from a fourteen year old boy who frequently complains of having no ride to the activity of the week! He further explained that in speaking with some of his friends whose mother chooses to rearrange her schedule to meet their wants and desires, he now sees his friends have a skewed view that life is all about them. If fact, he came home that day astonished that his friends got whatever they wanted with no regard for how their wants and desires impacted the rest of the family. By setting the standard that life is not about his wants and desires, he has learned to be less selfish.

“You work hard.” It is both frightening and encouraging to understand that children learn more from what is done rather than what is said. My son recounted a conversation he overheard from two mothers who were commenting on how difficult it must be to work and go to school at the same time. Having experienced this first hand with his mother, he was shocked to discover that not every mother did this. He then explained that by demonstrating what can be accomplished he had the motivation to work hard as well. By setting an example of hard work (it is important to note it is the example that is significant, not the words), he has learned self motivation.

“You and Dad don’t waste time.” By far this was the most confusing statement from my son especially since he seems to have little regard for his own time management. He then admitted to spending quite a bit of time listening in on adult conversations and made this observation. When time is a rare commodity, there is less gossip (his words) and more engaging discussions. Apparently, the conversations he overhears between his parents are deeper and more meaningful because there is less time to talk. By placing value on quality time and conversation, he has learned not to gossip.

Probably the hardest part of knowing that my son has learned these valuable lessons is understanding that he will frequently forget these lessons and become selfish, unmotivated and a gossip. However by continuing to set standards, living by example and placing value on the important things of life, the lessons can be continually reinforced and hopefully will make a positive difference in his life. As an added bonus, these lessons in turn encouraged me to keep going and greatly reduced the guilt often felt as a working mom.

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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, April 10, 2012

Waiting on God’s Timing

By Christine Hammond, MS, IMH

You have believed, you have prayed, you have gotten wise counsel, you have checked that your prayer is consistent with Scripture and you have peace about the final outcome, yet nothing is happening. There are no small or large changes, everything seems to be still (almost to a stop) and then you wonder is this really the right thing? Is this thing that you have been praying for really going to happen or is it just another prayer on the long list of prayers that did not get answered or worse got answered in a manner opposite from how you prayed.

So to distract yourself from the agonizing question, you become immersed in a project, in work, in church, or in a relationship. While the distraction works for a while, the underlying question looms and pops up in weird places like while driving, taking a shower, or sleeping. So you pray again but still no answer. You remind yourself of all of the blessings God has given you and give thanks but still no answer. You pray for others and take care of those He has entrusted into your care but still no answer. You go to the altar and pour your heart out to God for an answer but still no answer. You read Scripture and fast but still no answer. So now what?

He leads you beside still waters. Sometimes the reason for the wait to a prayer is because whatever is about to happen will require all of your strength, so by not having an answer right away, your strength is being stored up for whatever is to come. A common mistake is thinking that having an answer right away reduces your stress, but what if it really will not, what if this time of stillness is really God’s way of preparing you for an even greater stress. Psalms 23:2 says that He directs our paths to stillness; your objective is to recognize the stillness and be thankful for it instead of wishing it away.

Be still and know that He is God. Psalms 46:10 is a good reminder of the importance of remaining still and recognizing that His is God and He will be honored everywhere. During your period of stillness, spend time just worshiping His awesomeness, remember this maybe God’s way of restoring your strength. But if you spend this time worrying instead of worshiping, your strength will not be as great and may in fact be lessened. Trust that His timing is perfect and enjoy being still.

Be still and wait patiently for Him to act. Have you ever prayed for patience? Have you ever wanted to be a more patience person? Well, patience comes with practice. How many times have you wanted others to demonstrate patience with you or asked others to have patience? Here is your big chance to model patience for those around you or more importantly to model patience for yourself. If you are not willing to model patience, how can you ask others to do the same? Be still and wait patiently Psalms 37:7 commands.

In the meantime, keep believing, keep praying, keep seeking counsel, and keep studying the Scripture and God’s peace will be with you even during periods of stillness. Come to love the stillness instead of the hectic, the quiet instead of the noisy and the peace instead of fighting and you will be blessed.

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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, April 09, 2012

The Stress of Moving: Setting Reasonable Expectations

By Christine Hammond, MS, IMH

Admittedly, the title of this article may cause you to respond with a “no duh” comment. Having to pack up all of your belongings, sort and organize them, label boxes, hope that nothing breaks, and then unpack everything while trying to find a new home for your stuff is stressful enough. Add to that whatever caused you to move in the first place: new job, new marriage, new house, new pet, more kids, divorce, foreclosure, loss of job, declining health, loss of a loved one, lifestyle change, change of schools, or expired rental agreement and you have a recipe for a full blown panic attack.

It is no wonder why moving is so stressful and it should be stressful. Yes, you read right, moving should be stressful. One of the many contributing factors to increased stress and anxiety is unrealistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations that the move will go smoothly, that everything you currently have will fit neatly into your new space, that everything will work properly, that you will have all of the boxes unpacked in a few days, or that your new space needs to look perfect before someone visits. These expectations are unrealistic and add to your moving stress. So what do you do? Try these suggestions.

Set reasonable goals. Before you move, establish a timeline for competing of getting settled into your new space. For instance, if you have a one-bedroom apartment, it may take you a month to get fully settled into your space but if you have a four-bedroom home, it may take you six months to get fully settled into your space. Take into account any additional changes, such as new job, relationship, or town and add an additional month for each major change. This is a far more realistic goal.

Set reasonable boundaries. You do not need to have a house warming party within ten days of having moved into your space. This is far too much stress to put yourself through and may cause you to crash if you try to achieve it. Be kind to yourself and the people around you and set your house warming party up following your goal month. Allow others to help by bringing over a meal or helping to unpack some boxes while not allowing you to feel guilty for accepting help. There is nothing wrong with needed and receiving help.

Set reasonable breaks. One of the Ten Commandments is to take a Sabbath every week. This is especially true when enduring major life changes. The temptation is to work through the day of rest to get it all done but this is actually counter-productive as it leaves you sapped of your energy on the working days. It also makes you a bit snappy, irritable, short-tempered, and overwhelmed. Twenty-four hours of rest once a week is not too much and you will feel refreshed for the rest of the week.
Yes, moving is stressful but how you handle moving will determine your level of stress. By setting reasonable goals, boundaries and breaks, you can reduce not eliminate the intensity of your stress and be more productive at the same time.



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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.