Thursday, September 27, 2012

Driving Under the Influence of Marriage


 
By Brian Murray and Christine Hammond

On the way to a county wedding out of town, he is driving because she took too long to get ready and now they are running late. 

Her.  [Great, he’s lost again for the hundredth time.  He won’t stop and ask for directions and now I’m going to miss the processional after all that hard work on the flowers.  See he doesn’t really care about what I do.  Oh no, what is he wearing?  He doesn’t really think that tie matches, does he?] Honey, I don’t recognize this way.”

Him.  [Gosh why can’t she just shut up, I’m tired of being talked to like a two year old.] “I’m going the way the GPS told me to go.”

Her. [Stupid GPS, doesn’t he know by now that it can’t be trusted?  Why can’t he just use some common sense for a change and follow the directions my Aunt gave us.  She went out of her way on a very busy day to send us special directions and now I’ll have to tell her that she wasted her time.] “I don’t think this is the way my Aunt recommended.”

Him. [Your Aunt, whatever, I got this.] “Look I’m going the best possible way.”

Her. [He always does this when it’s an event for my side of the family.  But if it was his side of the family, everything would be different.  Well, at least I won’t have to put up with his father making obnoxious jokes and his mother in her clown painted face make-up at this wedding.  Now I’m going to have to listen to my father say yet again just how many minutes we were late.] “Well then don’t blame me if we get lost.”

Him. [OMG, this woman is going to drive me insane!] “I’m not lost; I waited patiently for 15 minutes while you got ready.”

Her. [Patience, he calls stomping, ranting, and honking the horn patience!  I’ll give him patience. Try waiting for that stupid closet door to get fixed over the last year or how about cleaning out the garage.  He hasn’t done that in about five years and I haven’t mentioned it in six months.  Now that’s patience, waiting for 15 minutes so that I can look good for him is nothing and it’s obvious that he doesn’t even appreciate all my hard work.] “Look there’s a gas station.  Do you want me to ask for directions?”

Him. [You have got to be kidding me.  I know where I am going!] “Just a little bit further.”

Where is this going? Often in a marriage there are two perspectives in a situation and coming to an understanding of the other person’s point of view can be a challenging process especially when what is thought is often not what is said.  It’s kind of like shooting at a moving target, just when you think have your aim, the target moves.  Let’s explore how each spouse could have better handled the situation before, during and after.

Before.  Instead of fuming during her 15 minute delay, he could have taken the time to preprogram the GPS and compare the directions with her Aunt’s.  Then he could have called Aunt Betsy to answer the discrepancies prior to leaving.  She could have planned on being ready 15 minutes earlier instead of later by setting the time of departure 30 minutes in advance.  A wedding should be a fun event so with a little planning ahead of time, departing won’t be so stressful.

During.  Instead of projecting blame on each other, they could have taken responsibility for their own part in the delay.  He could have examined other options such as calling the Aunt while driving instead of insisting on driving on and being prideful.  She should not call her Aunt however, because such a move can leave him feeling invalidated.  Rather, she needs to find her happy place and keep her mouth shut.

 After.  Arriving at a wedding after a heated argument is not the best way to greet a newly married couple.  Once harsh words are thought and spoken, the face will betray the mind and tensions will continue to rise.  Instead, before you step out of the car, take a moment to visualize the argument being left at the scene of the crime which is in the car.  Do not take it inside!  Consider the wedding to be a timeout of sorts or a healthy distraction, you can return to the argument when you return to the car.  You just might find that by the end of the wedding, most will be forgotten and the rest should be forgiven. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Anxiety in Christianity



By: Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

Phil 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Learning to let go of things that cause anxiety is not always an easy task. God calls us forward to present those things to Him through prayer and petition as found in the Philippians scripture. Learning how to manage anxiety is nothing new and there are many references regarding it throughout the Bible. Anxiety is a natural feeling and serves a purpose to protect ourselves from the threat of harm and danger. This is often exhibited commonly as fight or flight. However, if the threat is not real and only a perception of harm and danger it can lead to unwarranted feelings of distress.

Anxiety often is the result of worry and fear about a situation that creates feelings of uneasiness often found in the pit of the stomach. It’s the relentless worrying about something that is not within our control. Very often in our everyday lives we hear the phrase “get over it” or “just let it go.” This actually can be very helpful if the feelings are truly released versus stuffing them down inside. Jesus addressed this very issue in Matthew 6:27 saying “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” This teaching demonstrates how Jesus was around other people who were experiencing anxious thoughts and feelings. Anxious thoughts can be described by ruminating or entertaining thoughts. In other words, or by the example Christ gives us, let go of worrying or thinking about those things that we have no control over because there is nothing we can do about it anyway. Worrying and feeling anxious is not only unhealthy, it can waste time and become a distraction away from more important activities in our lives. It can also rob us of a good night’s sleep with the mind racing. Stomach issues can lead to poor eating habits depleting the body of fuel it needs to stay energized. If anxiety goes unchecked for too long, it can lead to other health problems such as panic attacks, ulcers or addictions as a coping mechanism.

I once heard a story about a man who decided after 12 years of marriage that he wanted to leave his wife. She begged him to stay and as a matter of fact she had been begging him to stay for the next 20 years of their marriage. She had severe anxiety about him leaving. She had a great deal of fear of the unknown and abandonment and what life would look like without this man. The idea of being alone was beginning to deteriorate her health. She no longer liked herself in the mirror, her face drawn and unhappy. Her husband finally divorced her after 32 years of marriage and she was able to let go of all the anxiety that been built up inside of her. Some time went by and she found herself somehow feeling much better and joy was beginning to return to her life. The crux of this story is what can happen to anyone. A spouse makes up their mind they are going to leave, regardless of what the other person says, does or feels. In this case, there was nothing wife could do about it. The husband made his decision. Much to the amazement of the wife, she began to feel the opposite of what she had been afraid of all those years that somehow things would get worse. At this point she was able to let go.

The point of the story is about letting go of the fear and the worry that is often the culprit of anxiety. When other people in our lives decide to make decisions for themselves and do not include others there is not much we can do about it. If this is the case, how can you begin to let it go? How can worrying or ruminating on the thoughts of other people’s behavior add a single day or hour to your life? Christ summarizes this in one piece of scripture saying in Matthew 6:34 “therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

 

Brian Murray is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern with The Lifeworks Group located in Winter Park Florida.

Embracing Grief When You Have Lost a Loved One


 
By Chris Hammond

Out of the blue, you receive a message that someone you loved has passed away.  Perhaps it is a sibling, a longtime friend, or close co-worker, he/she is close to you but not one of your immediate family.  Whatever the nature of your relationship, the timing of their death is so unexpected that you can hardly believe what you are hearing.  And yet you know intellectually that it is true.  Yet your emotions do not catch up to the reality quick enough so your response is distorted by a numbness of disbelief.  You are left hanging, not knowing what to do or how to respond.  Your relationship with the immediate family is close so you feel this pull to be with them but are unsure of how to act, what to say or who to speak with during this time.

The climate of our present culture is one that has lost touch with the art of maintaining intimate relationships. Media influences such as Facebook, texting, and video gaming all of which do more to disconnect relationships rather connect serve instead to keep intimate relationships at arm’s length.  While on the surface it may seem as though we are connecting to old friends or distant relatives by befriending or sending a message, the lack of two-way face-to-face conversation keeps the relationship at this distance.  During the times of a crisis such as the loss of a loved one, the distance then becomes a temptation not to act and to remain safely away.  But this is not an example of loving your neighbor.  So what is? 

Time.  As hard as it is, one of the most loving acts of kindness is giving your time.  Just spending time with the immediate family can be a source of great comfort in a time of great loss.  One of the many temptations during this time however is to remain detached and self-protective as you embrace your loss, but this is a selfish act.  Selflessness is the willingness to put aside your own emotions and become involved in caring for those whose loss is greater.  Time demands that you are physically present offering to remain as long as needed to care for the suffering of another.

Listen.  During your time with the immediate family, do not enforce your own agenda or your own views of the loved one who has passed.  Rather, listen to the family speak allowing them the freedom to become angry, bitter, sad, and emotional.  Don’t argue or dispute what they are saying, just allow them to ramble.  The explosion of thoughts which plague your mind during this time are even more intense for the immediate family so let them just speak.  Some feel the need to narrate the story of their lives, some feel the need to just sit in complete quiet, some feel the need to be around people, and some feel the need to give instructions.  Whatever their need, be there to listen without judgment or correction.

Embrace.  There is no way around this.  Once you physically make yourself available and spend some time listening to a person grieve, you will become emotionally and intimately involved in the grieving process.  This act defies the nature of our culture which preaches that it is “all about me” and invites you to embrace an intimate moment which is about the one who has passed away and the ones who are left behind.  While it is scary to allow yourself to be so involved, it is an act of kindness that demonstrates fully the love of Christ.

To the outside world, such behavior of giving your time, listening unconditionally and embracing grief sounds draining and normally it is if you are doing such acts on your own strength.  But if you rely on the strength of Christ, there is far more than you need.  John 7:38, “Anyone who believes in me [Jesus] may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”  These rivers of living water are nourishment and refreshment in times of great challenage and great need which are available to all who believe in Jesus.  When you give of yourself during a time of loss, you are really giving the love of Christ of which there is an endless supply and far more than you need.  This is one of the many demonstrations of loving your neighbor and becomes a light to all who see.
 
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, 2004-2012), 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

Monday, September 24, 2012

4 Tips on Getting Out of the Blahs, or Recovering Motivation

 
You know, the blahs. It’s that stage of life when you feel heavy and sluggish and low on energy, even when you got a good night’s sleep. In fact, you often feel like you want to take a nap. You job doesn’t hold a lot of excitement, or worse, your friends are either annoying, or trite, or maybe kind but yet can’t seem to understand, and you don’t feel you have anything to look forward to. Maybe it’s money troubles, or maybe you’ve experienced a setback of some kind. And you can’t just ‘snap out of it’. I’d like to offer four ideas on how to move successfully through the blahs to get back to your “old” self.
 
1.     Eat Your Peas
·         You know how, when you were a kid, there were those foods you had to eat to “grow big and strong”. But they happened to be foods that were yucky. My mom was always trying to get me to eat green vegetables, and I was always trying to get out of it. Usually she encouraged me to just try some and eventually had to settle for me eating the minimum that I could get away with. Well, there are likely some things that you need to do to get out of the blahs that would be similar and that it may feel like the feeling you had when you had to “eat your peas”.
·         What this means is that we sometimes need to do things even when we don’t feel like it or do things that we don’t want to do. I don’t mean taking out the trash. I mean to do the things that would help to get out of the blahs. And to not wait until you feel like doing them to do them. Things like making appointments to spend time with friends, or keeping a routine, getting up out of bed, taking a walk, going to church, journaling. Self care requires some thought and energy and oddly can be one of the first areas that we give up when we don’t have energy. But getting back energy and motivation is not about waiting for it to come back, like it went out of town on vacation.
 
2.     Be Authentic
·         When you are in the blahs, you are feeling something, something negative. And what many do is they stuff their feelings. Pretend that everything is fine. Chin up. Press on. “Fake it till you make it.” Some are scared that people won’t understand or care, or worse, reject them or mock them. And some just learned to cope by repressing or denying negative emotions.
·         I’ll let you in on a little secret. This stuffing is how many folks get stuck in the blahs in the first place. Burying and hiding our real selves from others causes us to develop more anxiety rather than help us. We feel the need to keep up the fa├žade and the pressure grows. We start to believe that others are actually doing fine and it’s just us that aren’t feeling quite right.
·         Maybe we had opened up to someone before – but they were critical or demeaning or maybe they tried but we still felt like they did not get us.  Or maybe you did not have someone in your life who you thought you could open up to.
·         So here’s the complicated formula – talking = good, stuffing = bad. Even if you had a hurtful or disappointing experience before. Even if you are really afraid. Even if you don’t know of someone whom you feel is safe. I get that there may be really good reasons why you are not sharing your heart with so and so. Maybe they aren’t the person I am suggesting that you go to. But go to someone.
·         I am not advocating venting. Venting often can churn your emotions up but does not bring about release or resolution. What I am advocating is telling someone about your thoughts and feelings and processing your feelings by exploring what they mean to you.
·         There is much that could be said about developing safe relationships and developing healthy personal boundaries. And they have been said in books like Safe People and the Boundaries books and others.  
·         If this feels overwhelming to you, consider seeking a counselor to help. Being good listeners and having empathy is what I expect them to do very well.
 
3.     Make a Plan
·         Part of the blahs is getting in the rut of “whatever”. You become fatalistic and you allow life to just take you where it wills. When you lose motivation and energy, life just seems to swirl around you, and you feel powerless.
·         Recognize that these are feelings and not statements of reality. Even if something or somethings happened that were beyond your control. Yes, there is much of life that is beyond our control. That does not mean that we, therefore, have no power or that our efforts do not matter.
·         In fact, the more we drift, the more likely we are to slide into the blahs. This is a slippery slope. Once we start to doubt that our daily efforts and choices matter, then we may begin to lose the energy and motivation to pursue our life goals with gusto.
·         Making plans gives us something to look forward to. It gives us direction and can renew our motivation by reminding us that there is something we can do, something that is important.
·         Begin with your long-term plans. Where do you want to be in five years? What kind of person do you want to become? How can you make a difference?
·         From there, develop shorter-term goals that help you to reach your long-term ones.
·         Seek wisdom and help from others as you develop your plans. Proverbs 15:22
 
4.     Get Perspective and Find Grace
·         What do your blahs represent in terms of your thoughts and beliefs? Use your processing with a safe person to fish around in your blah feelings to understand yourself better.
·         We need to challenge our defeatist notions and unhelpful ways of interpreting our experiences. Do we have a tendency to catastrophize? Do we tend to see things in rather black and white terms? Do we sometimes have unrealistic expectations?
·         If you tend to get in the blahs due to comparisons, reevaluate who you usually compare yourself to. When I was in college, my friends and I used to get the blahs around finals time. But when one of us got into moaning about our work load or such, someone would eventually say something like, “Yeah, the poor and the sick have it so good!” And then we’d laugh together at the reminder that life really could be a lot worse, and is, for a lot of others.
·         Above all, ponder what God is thinking and how he views your situation and you. Are you blah because you have forgotten that God is for you? Do situations in life lead you to feel that God is not for you? Bring it all to God and dialogue with him about it. Tell him your stuff and then listen to him. Hear what he says about you in the Word.
How you are wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14),
§ how he will complete the good work he began in you (Phil 1:6),
§ how God does not condemn (Romans 8:1),
§ that God does not forget us and has compassion on us (Isaiah 49:14-16),
§ that God is for us and can and will give us what we need and bless us (Joshua 1:9, Romans 15:5 and 13, Ephesians 3:20)
Getting out of the blahs is about getting back motivation and perspective, meaning it is about renewing our hope. Hope is found not just in better circumstances but, more significantly, in quality relationships, meaning it’s not just what I am going through but who I am going through it with.
 
Matt W.  Sandford, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
 
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, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit
www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Understanding Anxiety



By: Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

Understanding what a person is feeling can sometimes be a little confusing. There are times when maladaptive understanding of emotions leads to a response that questions people of what they are truly feeling. If the feelings are misunderstood then often an inappropriate reaction leads to further stress and confusion. An example of two often confused emotions is anxiety and anger. Both are considered negative emotions that share common characteristics.

Both anger and anxiety promote an adrenaline response in the body. Adrenaline is like rocket fuel to the body getting ready for action. Often a person can tell they are getting tense, adrenaline is flowing, and there may be some queasiness in the stomach, shaky hands, heart rate increases along with increased breathing oxygenating the muscles. So if anxiety and anger are producing both of these emotions are creating a somatic response in the body, then how do you know which one it is?

One of the main differences is what the feeling is going to be used for. Anxiety is often associated with the urge to escape and avoid. The basis for anxiety is fear, while anger is used to fight or attack in response to a perceived threat. It is possible to have them simultaneously and both of them often coexist in a conflict situation. Usually anxiety shows up first and then anger follows. If the situation can be resolved by merely walking away the anxiety usually subsides after a few minutes and the body has a chance to burn off the excess adrenaline.

There are other forms of anxiety that are long term and may require clinical help beyond just being able to walk away. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD which is commonly associated with military combat veterans, is a form of anxiety. PTSD is the result of constantly perceiving a threat based on a traumatic past experience. Here we see the same common threads which are fear and the feelings of fight or flight at the thought of having to relive that experience.

Another common form of long term anxiety is Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD.  Most likely if you are a person who is fearful of losing their job, a loved one or facing some other major adjustment in your life then GAD is often the culprit. Some of the feelings associated with GAD is feeling keyed up or on edge all of the time, becoming easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability and muscle tension. There are relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and imagery mindfulness techniques that can help relax and are often highly effective for reducing GAD.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How to Talk to a Narcissist


 
By Chris Hammond

After years of speculation, you have finally come to the realization that your boss is a narcissist.  Since this is not the type of economy where you can just leave your job and expect to get another one quickly, you find yourself stuck and miserable in a job that normally you would like except for your narcissistic boss.  In the beginning everything was great.  Your boss seemed to like you and you liked him/her despite the previous dozen or so former employees who left rather abruptly.  Then one day everything changed, as if a switch just flicked without your knowledge and you went from the best employee ever to the most incompetent human alive.

But you are stuck and despite the numerous attempts to flick the switch back the other way, it’s not budging.  Every day now begins with several duck and cover attempts as you dodge the verbal bullets assaults of your boss until one day when you have no option but to confront.  Finally, the issues on your desk have built up to an unbearable level and something has to give as there is no more time. While you know you need to confront your boss, you must do it in a way that doesn’t cost your job in the process.  So how do you do it?  Try a few of these suggestions.

 Use the Hamburger method.  Think for a moment about a McDonald’s hamburger, would you ever eat the meat without the bun?  No, the meat is terrible without the bun.  Well for just about anyone, but a narcissist in particular, delivering bad news is the meat of the matter and without a bun it is likely to be spit right back out at you.  So, create a bun of praise around the meat.  Since a narcissist loves himself/herself, try praising your boss first, then follow it with the meat of the matter, and end it with yet another personal or professional praise.

Use it only once.  You are going to be shocked at how well this will work and be very tempted to repeat this for the dozen or so other meats but watch out.  Your narcissist boss will likely catch on and become even angrier thinking that you are manipulating him/her.  So when you do this, do it once per conversation, and never twice in the same day.

 Pick your meat carefully.  If possible, prioritize the meat that needs to be confronted and do the most burning issues first, then follow it with the ones for greater long-term impact and end with the other not so important short-term issues that may just go away on their own.  Whenever possible, overlook meat so your confrontations are not frequent but don’t be irresponsible about the meat.  Some meat must be dealt with however insignificant it may seem.

When in danger…If the confrontation begins to take a bad turn, don’t defend yourself.  Never ever give ground to a narcissist unless you are willing to give that ground permanently.  Instead repeat back part of what your boss is saying, not too much to be obnoxious, but just enough to let him/her know you heard what he/she said even if this includes something negative about you.  That action alone, without your overreaction will be enough to take the wind out of his/her sails.

No emotion.  The thing about a narcissist is that he/she has no empathy of anyone else except himself/herself, so don’t waste your time getting upset or teary eyed.  The quickest way for a narcissist to stop being angry is for you to have no emotion whatsoever.  When you show emotion, he/she believes you have lost and treats you like prey instead of treating you with compassion.  When you don’t show emotion, your narcissistic boss will try another tactic such as changing the subject to try again to get the upper hand. 

Don’t give ground, stand still, and stand strong and your narcissistic boss will likely soften around you instead of attacking the next time.  Just remember that a narcissistic boss is common and even if you left your current position, you are likely to find another one lurking behind some corner.  So stop fighting and learn how to talk to a narcissistic boss instead of running from them.

 

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, 2004-2012), 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.

Sarcasm & the Stealth of Anger



By: Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

A little tiff breaks out between two friends and suddenly one of them has enough and blurts out a common saying “whatever” and stops talking. While this seems meaningless and benign in nature sarcasm unseen intention is often a defensive move. Anger is a natural and common emotion and what we do with it makes a big difference. The use of sarcasm with phrases such as “whatever” or “just saying” is a withdrawal defense mechanism intended to defend and protect true feelings. It is a pulling back by being passive and becoming emotionally uninvolved.

What happens over time is the person using these types of phrases keeps stuffing their feelings down inside. If someone stuffs their feelings unconsciously the defense mechanism is known as repression. Over time the continual stuffing of these feelings begins to build up leading to self destruction. It is at this point the anger, being stealthy, morphs into another defense mechanism known as displacement. Displacement is directing the stuffed feelings onto someone or something that is not as threatening. For example, someone gets angry, says “whatever” (withdrawal) and then walks away and punches a hole in the wall (displacement). There are many different types of defense mechanisms and these are a few for demonstrative purposes.

Defense mechanisms are emotional coping responses to stress and anxiety in an unpleasant situation. The intended purpose is to reduce feelings of apprehension. When anger is expressed appropriately it can signal to others that you are upset leading to resolve. This is about being assertive as opposed to being reactive, aggressive and destructive. One important factor to remember in dealing with anger is it belongs to the person who has it. Take ownership of it and manage it. Projection onto others is another defense mechanism in an attempt to avoid dealing with the feelings associated with being angry.

Some questions to ask while trying to manage anger are; what am I reacting to? What is pressing my buttons? Is my reaction appropriate to the event I am faced with? Reaction formation, another defense mechanism, is about accepting beliefs that are exaggerated beyond the degree of the stressor. There are many more defense mechanisms that can be associated with anger. Anger will and often does change from one defense mechanism to another. Anger can and is often stealthy and shape-shifts until is it is appropriately released.

While there are many ways to deal with anger, here are a few steps that can help get started; recognize anger by taking note of the situation that triggered it; express yourself in conversations using “I” statements in a respectful manger toward others; exercise or take a walk and cool off; find a friend or other person to talk it out and finally start journaling. Talking, walking and writing can be healthy and effective ways to express yourself and release anger.

“Consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved.”  ~Marcus Antonius

Monday, September 17, 2012

Men, Why Are You SO Angry?



By: Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

Okay men, how many times have you been accused of being angry? How many times has a person you respect such as your wife or good friend become hurt after an impulsive outburst only to feel guilty later for the outburst and come back apologizing? While anger is a natural emotion, how we handle it makes a big difference. This isn’t about long term anger problems; this is about sudden onset and short term anger that has come on in the past few months or so. I’ll address the long term stuff toward the end.

Men when expressing their emotions often show them in a different ways than women. Anger in men can often be characterized as silent and distant until provoked followed by an outburst. Men when growing up often culturally learn their way in the world is to be tough and to “buck up.” Unfortunately what often happens is as an adult nothing much has changed. Men continue to “buck up” and feelings get stuffed down and suppressed without being expressed. This happens until pushed to the tipping point and then the angry outburst occurs.

While there can be multitudes of reasons that can lead to anger, there are a few that occur more commonly than others. Here are a few of the most common issues leading to anger.

·         Stress and anxiety; sometimes stress can cause a person to feel anxious about issues that are going on both at home and in work environments.

·         Lack of respect from spouse, family and coworkers. Examples of disrespect include speech tones that are condescending, rejecting and hurtful such as name calling or using undertones that dismiss masculinity.


·         Depression. Depression in men is often manifested as anger. The reason for this is often the stuffed feelings of anger. Depression many times is anger turned inward and when the pressure cooker can’t take it anymore the lid pops. Depressed anger can also lead to self destruction methods such as alcohol and substance abuse or dependence which only further aggravate the situation.

Long term anger problems often are the result of learned behavior or possible other underlying conditions that may be contributing to the problem. As previously mentioned, depression in men is often manifested as anger. Dysthymia which is long term mild grade depression can go undiagnosed for months or even years before the affected person seeks help. Hormones and changes in the body known as menopause in women occur also men with one of the main culprits being lower testosterone. In men it can lead to significant changes in their mood and can decrease sexual libido. Lower sexual desire can lead to feelings of being inept causing frustration.

While this is not a comprehensive list of issues leading to anger they are very commonly found with men. If you are a man and feel that a source of anger may be related to some of these issues a physical from your medical doctor can be a good place to begin. Psychotherapy is also beneficial to discuss some of the problems associated with anger and how it affects your life.


Brian M Murray is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern with the Lifeworks Group located in Winter Park Florida.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Force of Favor is a Gift -- Do You Know how to Receive it?

 
 
By Dr. Dave Martin

 
I believe that favor is the greatest reward a person could ever receive from the Lord. Favor is better than money. While money cannot buy you favor, favor can definitely bring you money. Favor is better than fame. While fame cannot bring you God’s favor, the favor of God can absolutely bring you respect from key individuals and cause you to stand out within large groups. Favor is better than life. In fact, King David wrote, “Thy loving kindness is better than life” (Psalm 63:3, KJV).

 

Favor will determine the level of your income. Favor will deepen your important relationships and the friendships you forge as you associate with the right people. Favor will flood your life with joy, with happiness, with passion, and with a sense of purpose and significance. Favor will intensify your worship and enhance your intimacy with the Lord. Favor also will ward off the enemy and neutralize his relentless attacks against you. Favor will cause you to regain in a day what Satan has stolen from you over the years.

 

Just think about this for a few seconds. The Bible tells us that Satan has three “jobs” in this world. His jobs are “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” ( John 10:10, KJV) all that God has birthed in your life. So if you can think for a moment about those areas in your life that have “died,” if you can think about those things and opportunities that your accuser has stolen from you, and if you can recount all the relationships and the innocence that the devil has destroyed in your life, you should take heart that God’s favor is available to “restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer worm” (Joel 2:25, KJV).

 
Favor can change a medical report. We see this in the Bible. Because Sarah was barren, she could not give Abraham the son that God had promised to him. As Sarah grew older and as the years accumulated, the possibilities for her to become a mother diminished with every passing day. Then finally, at the age of 90, when the medical reports merged with the physical realities of Sarah’s age and it looked as if God’s promise would go unfulfilled, the Bible tells us that “the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him” (Genesis 21:1-2, KJV).

 
Favor is a seed that can be sown. The apostle Paul said, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7, KJV). So you have the ability to sow favor into the lives of others just as God has sown favor into your life, and you have a right to expect favor to come back into your life as the appropriate harvest for the favor you have sown. Favor, therefore, is reciprocal. It is part of the ongoing cycle of spiritual life.

 
Of course, whether we are talking about God’s favor medically, relationally, financially, or spiritually, we cannot always expect are turn on investment immediately. The farmer who sows seed and faithfully works that seed while it is in the ground has a perfect right to demand a return on his investment. He has a right to expect the seed to grow and produce crops.

 
Likewise, the financier who sows his money into an investment portfolio and who patiently waits for those investments to mature has a perfect right to anticipate a return on his investment as well. He has a right to expect his money to grow and to produce more money. In time, the faithful man or faithful woman will always reap what they sow, and they will reap more than they sow. But they also will reap after they sow, so they may not reap right away. The reward comes after the effort. The prize comes after the race. The victory comes after the battle. And God’s favor comes on the backside of faithfulness.


 
Want to find out more about God's Favor? Read the new book on "The Force of Favor" by Dr. Dave Martin

 
Dr. Dave Martin is known by many around the world as America's #1 Christian Success Coach. He has embraced his assignment to teach others how to walk in the fullness of God's plan by pursuing, possessing and teaching the scriptural keys to biblical success.

 
@dr dave martin

Thursday, September 13, 2012

5 Tips for Parenting Adolescents: Part 5


By: Matt Sandford

In part four of the series, we discussed ways to balance between short and long term goals in our parenting. In this last section we will examine the issue of our children’s development towards autonomy and ways we can effectively nurture this process.

5.       Foster autonomy

·         In the teen years it becomes more readily apparent that your kids are not going to be under your roof forever. Some of you are excited about this, and some are broken up about it. But either way, it has been what you have been actually working towards all along: to see your kids grow up.

·         Autonomy is a big part of maturity. Autonomy means to be self governing, self directed. Not in the childish sense of – I want my way! But the maturity to make decisions about what is best based on sound principles. Autonomy goes best when paired with responsibility and wisdom.

·         But, here’s the rub for most parents. I want my child to mature and become autonomous, but at the same time I am scared – scared they will make poor choices, scared they will get hurt, scared they will mess up their future, scared they will embarrass me or scared they will not be able. But, how will your children develop the skills to do this well if they don’t get the chance? Or, if the chances they get don’t involve any real possibility of loss, how much learning results? Think about your own experience. Most people I believe would say that some of the most impactful learning experiences they had were not successes.

·         When you allow your fears to direct you in this area, you weaken your child’s development and sabotage your own long-term goals (besides increase conflict, jeopardize your trust bond with your child and likely not alleviate your overall level of fear, anyway). I am not saying that there is no reason to fear; some of the things you fear could actually happen. But the question is whether your assessment of the consequences is accurate? You’ll never know if you prevent your child from taking some responsibility or a risk. Maybe there would be positive consequences that you had no way of predicting? Romans 8

·         Keep in mind, when you encourage your child to try, to figure it out, to join a club, to solve a problem, to ask a girl out, to confront a bully, to find a way to remind themselves to do their chores or to get themselves up for school, to be home on time, the message you are sending is that I believe in you. Even better if you verbalize that along with it! And remember, believing in them does not only mean believing they will succeed, but includes believing that they can handle mistakes and even failure.

·         Give choices. Giving choices is a great middle ground for the parent who is apprehensive or scared to let their child take risks. It gives you some degree of control, but at the same time grants a degree of autonomy to the adolescent. You set the parameters, but grant room for them to stretch their decision making abilities. “You can either be home on time, call me to check in or lose the privilege of playing ball at the park.” “When do you want to complete your homework, before or after dinner?” “You can either take the trash out as you agreed or you can choose one of the three penalties we discussed.” “So, how should we handle your disobedience? Any ideas on what would make things right in this situation?” You could even try this in communication difficulties. “Well, if you don’t want to talk about it now, you can choose one of the other methods we had discussed – writing me a note or scheduling a meeting or coming up with a creative way to express yourself”.

·         Giving choices can be part of a larger developmental purpose, as you see teachable moments in the everyday decisions of life. Refer back to my point on listening and asking probing questions. Use these times to invite your son or daughter to process their decision, weigh the options and consequences and invite them to develop long-term focused, principle-driven objectives – without just telling them what is ‘right’.

·         And then – when they try – be there to affirm them – whether the attempt went well or not. And be mindful to avoid criticism, put downs, “I told you so’s”, or any subtle way that you might communicate that you knew better or any discouragement from trying again. If they want help, be cautious about jumping to their rescue too quickly. Assess their emotional state and what they really need. How you respond when they try to fly will mean a lot.

Helping your adolescent to develop autonomy is about helping them in many ways to mature and to have confidence. That confidence is equally established by their achievements and by your belief in them.

There you have it. Five simple tips. Well, you didn’t really think they would be easy, did you? Because parenting adolescents sure isn’t. But, it is meaningful. And let me assure you, it is worth the effort. You often need to wait 25 years to see it, but it is.

Matt W.  Sandford, LMHC

Licensed Mental Health Counselor


 

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, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit
www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Does Someone You Know Have an Addiction?



Brian M Murray, IMH

 

"I wanted to write about the moment when your addictions no longer hide the truth from you. When your whole life breaks down. That's the moment when you have to somehow choose what your life is going to be about." - Chuck Palahniuk

 

Do you know someone who struggles with addiction? Sometimes watching a friend or a loved one struggle in life can be difficult. The first inclination is to help the person only to be met with guarded behavior, anger and defensiveness. Questions often begin to arise after seeing a pattern of behavior developing in someone we care about wondering if there is something deeper going on. Understanding the nature of addiction and looking for some subtle red flags or signs can help what to watch out for if you believe that someone you know is struggling with an addiction.

Addiction is often misunderstood and perceived as a bad disease that is “fixable” if the addicted person would exercise some personal willpower to stop. Sounds easy in theory, however if the addiction is too powerful telling a person to just stop is akin to telling someone to stop breathing. Quitting becomes unbearable and leads to relapse. Severe addiction requires intervention and management as physiological withdrawal occurs. Addictions often have attachments involved that require a person to surrender themselves and enter into a rehab environment.

Addiction can be complex to sort out and usually involves a long term pattern of negative thinking. A negative perception of the self leads the person to believe they are somehow fundamentally flawed or a bad person. The result of thinking and feeling this way is typically characterized by low self esteem. The addicted person often feels guilty and shameful for their behavior and they are not worthy of positive endeavors in life. This shame and guilt cycle is reinforced every time the addicted person uses. Over time, these thoughts weigh on the psyche and they become dependent on a substance to make them feel better. What is unseen is they are reinforcing the problem. It becomes a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself and so the user becomes chronically dependent worsening the addiction.   

There are some red flags that can signal that a person is struggling with an addiction such as; a shortage of money when they seemingly have enough income to cover living expenses, isolation and avoidance of social situations, and suddenly seeming withdrawn from the family unit and spending more time in an isolated part of the home such as the garage. Sudden mood changes or anger becomes prevalent along with what appears to be depression. Some physical signs are sudden weight loss or gain, red dilated pupils or the smell of alcohol on their breath. While this list is far from complete, it signals that a person might be having a problem with an addiction. The first thing is they often try to hide it usually because they don’t want to give it up or they are ashamed of being discovered. The idea of helping someone recover with an addiction is to come alongside and help them get the help they need. Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of and encouraging them in a supportive positive way can only help long term recovery.

 

Brian Murray is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern with The Lifeworks Group located in Winter Park Florida.

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, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit
www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

9/11/01 : A Day to Remember


 
By: Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

For most people, remembering 9/11/01 is about remembering where they were when they first heard the news.  It is easy to recall it since it was such a shocking day filled with tragedy after tragedy and while most felt numb that day, recall of the event now includes emotions of great sadness, grief, despair, and anger.  The many days of confusion that followed 9/11/01 are more of fog compared to the moment in which you first heard the news.  That moment is imbedded into your memory as if it was yesterday, stirring up a mixture of both old and new emotions.  With each passing year, the memory refuses to fade as new memories are implanted into your head; instead it remains a solidly fixed and sober event.

But remembering 9/11/01 should not be so selfish.  It should not be about remembering where you were or who you were with or how you felt.  The people who committed the acts of terrorism on 9/11/01 were the selfish ones thinking only of their beliefs, their cause, their feelings, and their goal.  On that day, the terrorists focused solely on their agenda at the great expense of the lives of others.   No, this day, Patriot’s Day, should not a selfish day but rather a day in which we all remember one another and the sacrifices that were given both willingly and unwillingly.  For many gave their life, some had their life stolen, thousands of families were impacted and others worked tirelessly to save lives and clean up the debris.  For those individuals, this day has a different meaning as it was not just a national event, it was personal and it forever changed them as such.

Remember them.  Have you ever had to clean up after a disaster?  Maybe you have been in a natural disaster where things are suddenly not where they belong and destroyed beyond repair.  Or maybe you have had a smaller event such as a pipe bursting or a two-year-old on a rampage through your house.  While it is frustrating to see things get so out of place in such a short time, it can be even more frustrating to put things back together again.  Remember those worked after 9/11/01 cleaning up an unbelievable mess day after day only to discover an even greater mess beyond the surface.  The amount of discouragement must have been overwhelming, yet they kept going year after year.  For these individuals, 9/11/01 is not just a day; it is a series of events forever imbedded into their current memory.  And while they unselfishly gave of themselves to accomplish a task, they continue to give of themselves through the memories which repeatedly traumatize them.

Thank them.  These unselfish individuals deserve your thanks and gratitude for a sacrifice that hopefully you can only imagine but will never fully know from experience.  For most of them, recognition and thanks is nice but they did not do it for that reason.  Rather, they had a job to do and chose to do well.  Every day you have a choice to just do your job and get by with as little effort as possible or you can chose to do your job well and like the heroes of 9/11/01 do it beyond expectation.  The heroes had a choice and it is obvious by the outcome that they put aside their selfish desires and chose to live a life of service to others.  It is easier to say a thank you but so much harder to live by the example that was set before you of excellence. 

Be them.  In the end, you have a choice.  It does not matter what your job is, who your family is, where you come from, or what your circumstances are in life, you still have a choice.  You have a choice to live a life that is selfish and focused on yourself or to live a life that is selfless and focused on others.  The terrorists made their choice; it was one of complete and total selfishness.  Some of the people who lost their life on that day did not have a choice; rather it was stolen from them.  But some of the people who lost their life on that day did have a choice; it was one of selflessness.  You too have a choice in how you live your life.  Are you going to be selfish like the terrorists or selfless like the heroes?

 What a true monumental day 9/11/01 would be if the long-term outcome was a nation filled with individuals who became selfless instead of selfish.  For a few years following that day, there was a glimmer of hope that selflessness would be the final outcome however as the events of that day turn more selfish and focused on remembering where you were instead of remembering who perished, the hope faded.  But you still have a choice; you can choose on this Patriot’s Day to remember others and the sacrifices they gave and continue to give or you can choose instead to remembering yourself and how you felt.  Choose wisely because the outcome will determine the destination of our next generation.

 

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, 2004-2012), 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