Never underestimate the power of talking with someone who really listens.
Our culture doesn’t encourage people to talk about their emotional pain. Our culture teaches people to suppress their feelings. People tell each other not to “whine” about problems or not to “dwell” on them. People are told to “get over it” and to “be strong,” meaning “don’t feel anything—and if you do, don’t talk about it or show it.”...more
Kathleen Notes: Coming to you from the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors 2018 Conference in New Orleans. The power of listening is just one of the reasons why I`m here!
What’s the secret to a successful relationship? For answers, we turned to four couples who illustrate key aspects of maintaining a long-term, satisfying partnership while living with bipolar disorder. (Since both individuals live with bipolar even if only one has a diagnosis, seeing yourselves as a team is a given.)....
Although experts and individuals weigh in on either side of the “tell/don’t tell” debate, clinical psychologist Kathleen Cairns, PhD, recommends revealing your bipolar diagnosis early in a relationship as a sort of barometer for the future.“You’ll learn if the person is compassionate, whether they can they deal with you. Otherwise, they will feel deceived and you will have wasted your time on someone who is not going to be there for you,” says Cairns
Kathleen Notes: Mental health issues can present challenges in any relationship. However, the solutions are the same in any relationship: respect, compassion and commitment to finding answers that are loving and help to build up rather than tear down.
We can actually sculpt and strengthen our synaptic connections based on repeated practice. For example in the famous study of London taxi drivers: the visual spatial mapping part of the brain is bigger, stronger. They’ve been practicing navigating the 25,000 streets of London all day long.
When you look at the brains of meditators, the areas related to attention, learning, and compassion grow bigger and stronger. It’s called cortical thickening: the growth of new neurons in response to repeated practice. What we practice grows stronger.....
.....We have this mistaken belief that if we shame ourselves, if we beat ourselves up, we’ll somehow improve. Shame doesn’t work. Shame never works. It can’t work. Physiologically it can’t work because when we feel shame, the centers of the brain that have to do with growth and learning shut down....more
Kathleen Notes: Remember the difference between shame and guilt: guilt is a useful emotion that helps us to repent and try to fix things we`ve done. Shame is connected to feelings about ourselves. Jesus has removed your sin and shame, it`s no longer a part of you!
Over the last week I have experienced anger, frustration, numbness, grief, and sadness as I watched more than 150 survivors of sexual abuse courageously face Larry Nassar in the courtroom and deliver victim impact statements.
The final victim testimony came from Rachael Denhollander. Denhollander was the first survivor to file a police report against Larry Nassar. It’s quite fitting that the woman who first brought this man’s evil actions into the light by filing a police report would be the last to face him in the courtroom.
Her testimony stood out from the other 163 because what she said directly to Larry Nassar was such a profound response to the trauma she endured from him. Her victim impact statement is a testimony to the grace, power, forgiveness, and justice only available through the gospel of Jesus Christ....more
Kathleen Notes: Healing for sexual assault is complex and difficult. Forgiveness by Faith through Grace. Well done Rachael..
Most parents do not focus on preparing their children for the mental health issues they may face when transitioning to college or other post-secondary school, according to a new survey from WebMD/Medscape and The Jed Foundation (JED), “Preparing for College: The Mental Health Gap.” Yet, nearly half of all parents/guardians surveyed reported that their child had at some point been diagnosed with a mental health issue, and the vast majority of health care professionals surveyed reported increases in anxiety, stress, and mood disorders among their patients in the same age group....
.....The survey is part of an educational collaboration with JED. The program provides parents with resources about how their children prepare – emotionally – for the transition out of high school to college and adult life. ...more
Kathleen Notes: I think that most parents have a lot of things going on in their minds as they prepare to send their "baby adult" children off to college. Mental health just isn`t one that we tend to think about, yet it is foundational to functioning successfully as an adult. You can check out more about the survey and suggestions for parents in the article.
I have it in me to look over my daughter’s shoulder and make sure she stays on top of her assignments.
I know I have it in me because I feel it; I feel the pressure to achieve and excel every single day. And although my internal pressure has significantly eased through my soul-shifting practices over the years, it still arises from time to time. That pressure can be devastating to live with, and it can ruin a perfectly good life....more
Kathleen Notes: This article speaks to the power of attunement and unconditional acceptance of who your child authentically is. That`s not to say that we shouldn`t guide and/or correct our children, but how we do that.
In the past week, I’ve read several studies that are scary to me… it’s the scary truth about what’s hurting our kids. We all know that what our kids hear becomes their inner voice, but it’s hard to control what they hear from others, isn’t it?
CNN recently interviewed Dr. Jean Twenge, author of iGen and her interview worried me – because I saw the truth that I would be facing in just a few short years. Dr. Twenge started doing research 25 years ago on generational differences, but when 2011 -2012 hit, she saw something that would scare her to the core. This is the year when those having iPhones went over the 50% mark.
The results of that should scare all of us. ...more
Kathleen Notes: Kids today are growing up in an exponentially different world than their parents or grandparents. We need to gain a greater awareness if we are to help appropriately.
Let me break that down for you.
So – Satan did it. (He is the bad guy, not the good guy.)
So – Bad Guy used the BIBLE. (Good Words. Not nasty, mean, obviously evil and vile words.)
So – Bad Guy used Good Words to TEMPT the Son of God. (Tempting is a bad thing.)
So – Bad Guy uses Good Words to do Bad Things in the WILDERNESS. (Not when things are going well, but when things pretty much suck, and you’re down.)
So – Bad Guy uses Good Words to do Bad Things when you are Down in the Pits.
Has this ever happened to you?...more
Kathleen Notes: Using the Bible out of context or to bludgeon someone with your opinion (masked as Scripture) is an abuse and it is sin. Scripture points us to our Savior Jesus so that we don`t have to despair! "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Many couples experience separation for days, weeks, or even months because of work-related travel. If you or your husband/wife travel for a corporate job or military deployment, you will face unique challenges when it comes to staying connected emotionally (and physically), as well as maintaining spouse-honoring (and God-honoring) integrity while apart. ...more
Kathleen Notes: "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." Proverbs 25:28 This article contains a podcast that spouses can listen to together and communicate about.
Yet patience is essential to daily life—and might be key to a happy one. Having patience means being able to wait calmly in the face of frustration or adversity, so anywhere there is frustration or adversity—i.e., nearly everywhere—we have the opportunity to practice it. At home with our kids, at work with our colleagues, at the grocery store with half our city’s population, patience can make the difference between annoyance and equanimity, between worry and tranquility....more
Kathleen Notes: Research is showing that patience produces good outcomes in many life areas: mental and physical health, achieving goals, healthier and more rewarding relationships, etc. Need help in this area? (and who doesn`t?) Read on...
God’s love is transformative because it offers freedom. We are freed from our guilt. All of the wrong things we have done won’t be held against us. We are freed from our shame. We are no longer defined by our actions or inaction. We are freed from the need to fill a void in our lives with drugs, alcohol, sex, or things. God fills that void with his love and acceptance of us. Because God loves us unconditionally even though we don’t deserve it, we are free to love others unconditionally and model God’s love to them.
God’s love makes a difference because it lifts us up as we recognize that the creator of the universe loves each one of us as we are. God’s love makes a difference because it shows us what true love really is. God’s love makes a difference because it allows us the freedom to love others sacrificially even as we have been loved sacrificially. God’s love makes a difference!...more
Kathleen Notes: A great follow up article to the previous one! "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son." John 3 vs 16-18
Do you want to be happy? I know I want to be happy and I bet the person next to you wants to be happy, too. Everyone wants to be happy. The desire is part of our biology and hard-wired into our brain. But the reason why happiness arises is varied and complex. Many people think that you find happiness; however, happiness isn’t a thing, so it is never lost. Happiness is an experience, and the conditions for you to have the experience of happiness are surprisingly common. Here are four ways mindful eating can help nourish the conditions for happiness, which are already all around you. ...more
Kathleen Notes: Food is a very personal thing and God has given us amazing variety in taste, texture, smells and flavors. It`s a great medium to practice mindfulness and gratitude.
Somewhat independently, schools and lawmakers have come to the same conclusion: The old models of student assessment are out of step with the needs of the 21st-century workplace and society, with their emphasis on hard-to-measure skills such as creativity, problem solving, persistence, and collaboration.
“Competency-based education is a growing movement driven by educators and communities focused on ensuring that students have the knowledge they need to flourish in a global economy,” said Susan Patrick, chief executive officer of iNACOL, a nonprofit that runs the website CompetencyWorks. “The future of jobs and the workforce will demand a new set of skills, and students’ capacity to solve complex problems for an unknown future will be essential.”...more
Kathleen Notes: "The purpose of education is not to sort kids—it’s to grow kids. Teachers need to coach and mentor, but with grades, teachers turn into judges." Amen. Let`s move on and find a solution that builds kids up and helps them to develop their skills.
Anxiety works in a similar way. When our kids are in the thick of anxiety, they’ll be aware that something doesn’t feel right, but they might not have exactly the right words to explain what’s happening for them. All they’ll know is that they feel as though something bad might happen. This might come to you in many ways, including ‘what ifs’, avoidance, anger, tears, a sick tummy. Everything inside them is telling them something isn’t right, so being told there’s nothing to worry about won’t help, and runs the risk of making things worse. There’s a good reason for this.
Anxiety is NOT a sign of breakage. It’s a sign that a strong, healthy, magnificent brain is doing exactly what brains are meant to do – protect us from threat. It won’t matter that there’s no clear threat – anxiety doesn’t care about that. Anxiety comes from a part of the brain called the amygdala. It’s instinctive, protective, and incredibly hardworking. It’s spectacularly good at doing what it does, which is keeping us safe. The amygdala switches on when it thinks there might be trouble – and fear of separation from loved ones, getting sick, something happening to someone they love, exclusion, rejection, embarrassment all count as trouble. When the amygdala is switched on, it’s laser focussed on keeping us safe.
Kathleen Notes: I really appreciate the picture that this article produces. To better understand anxiety (your childs`, yours or someone else you care about)check this out. You`ll be glad you did.
We must combat our natural compulsion to proceed in life with an “all or nothing” mentality. We must do this because eliminating this mentality can help alleviate many of the problems we face; or, as I like to see it, the problems we most times create. Many times we create problems that did not actually exist because of our perceived visions of, and for, the future. Having an “all or nothing” mentality provides the fuel necessary to make an individual obsessed with the future because it drives an individual to keep planning for potential problems that may arise. Most individuals with “all or nothing” mentalities wish to have control over everything, especially their futures, because if not they are at the mercy of being forced to go “all in” for a situation they might not actually enjoy. This proves that our “all or nothing” mentality is closely linked to our obsession with the future. And, just as there are problems with having an “all or nothing” mentality, there, too, are problems with being obsessed with the future.
Our obsession with the future, our need to plan every minute moment and detail of it, creates a great deal of problems for our existence. It creates strains in our relationships with others because most others prefer to “go with the flow” and become stressed by our need to micromanage every minute. It creates strains within our own being because it leads to us being disappointed and upset when the future does not turn out to be the way we planned for it. Albeit most of us with bipolar disorder have multiple contingency plans, we still become disappointed when our first plans do not come to fruition. To eliminate this disappointment, we must eliminate our obsession with the future; and to eliminate this obsession, we must first eliminate our “all or nothing” mentality....more
Kathleen Notes: We don`t live in the future...we live now.
As someone who struggles with mental health issues, being around multiple people at once can have a tremendous effect on me—and not a positive one. My family is aware of my conditions, but they don’t always know how to respond to my emotions, let alone understand why I feel the way I do. So before large gatherings, I tend to become anxious, panicky, and overwhelmed.
This year, I’d already been feeling an increase in my anxiety before the party even began, and that was the only indicator I needed to make my decision. Some guilt arose while I was in the process of deciding to stay home, but I knew I would only benefit in the long run.
Here are the three key things I told myself to help curb the guilt I experienced as a result of choosing to stay home rather than participate in holiday celebrations with my family....more
Kathleen Notes: Learning to respect the needs that you have (and we all have them!)means learning to respect yourself. That often comes with much more appropriate boundaries in which YOU are the gatekeeper.
We were designed to build connections to those around us, to be in communion with others. There is nothing wrong with seeking someone with whom we can share our lives.
Yet desiring to be in a relationship becomes problematic if it becomes the focus of life. Dating and even marriage is a means to an end, not the goal of life itself.
So why is looking for a spouse such a poor life focus?
Kathleen Notes: Heard a great key-note speech on this topic last week at the iAMFC Conference. You are already complete, marriage doesn`t accomplish this. The article gives food for thought.
Maybe it’s an innocent comment like, “Ewww, Mama,your breath stinks, don’t kiss me!” or maybe it’s an angry outburst – name calling and slammed doors. Some things are hard not to take personally.
Do you ever find yourself thinking or saying any of the following?
You are making me so angry right now!
Why are you doing this to me?
Can’t he see he’s hurting me?
I can’t believe he’s treating me this way! He’s so ungrateful!
If those thoughts are coming up, you’ve got a pretty good indication you’re taking your child’s behavior personally. This means you wind up feeling hurt and angry. The next thing you know you’re in a power struggle with your child, or you’re saying things you swore you’d never say to them – trying to use guilt or shame to get them to behave the way you want them to.
Taking behavior personally makes it much harder to stay calm, much less think of solutions and be a leader....more
Kathleen Notes: Whoa, kudos for honesty here. Most parents hate to admit that they feel like this sometimes. There`s some good ideas and strategies in this article to help.
When my wife and I got married, more than twelve years ago now, we were convinced that we would have a happy life together. Our courtship was exciting, and our wedding day was a dream. Little did we know that a switch flipped in both of our heads on the day we said “I do.” Indeed, the very next day—the first full day of our married life—my wife and I would begin taking each other for granted.
It’s only in looking back that I can understand what happened early in our marriage. At the time, the change was so gradual that we didn’t even notice it.
Before our wedding day, our focus was each other, having fun, and building our love. After our wedding day, our focus began to shift. Without realizing it, I viewed our wedding day as the finish line in the courtship race, and I had won the prize: my wife’s love....more
Kathleen Notes: How would marriages be different if we never stopped the courtship?
In any relationship, there may be struggles with communication, expectations, and unmet needs. For relationships in which at least one of the partners has attention-deficit hyperactivity, better known as ADHD, these struggles can be pronounced. Because ADHD impacts brain functioning and behavior, all aspects of life may be impacted by the symptoms—positively and negatively.
There are numerous potential benefits to being in a relationship with someone with ADHD. People with ADHD tend to be creative and passionate, among many other desirable attributes. There are also challenges that come with loving and living with someone with ADHD that often go unnoticed and therefore unaddressed. The more awareness you have of how symptoms can impact a relationship, the more prepared you may be to manage the challenges that come your way. These may include:...more
Kathleen Notes: I tend to see ADHD not as a disorder but more as a different way of thinking/being. If you can`t understand or are being misunderstood within your relationships, that requires effort and a willingness to explore solutions.
I`ve said before, loving God more than your spouse is a foundational marriage principle. We are chosen and loved by God, long before our spouse ever chose us or loved us (Colossians 3:12-17). Out of this identity as God`s beloved, Paul gives us four commands. Each of these commands draw us into relationship and create intimacy. The opposites of these commands are the destroyers of intimacy and the destroyers of relationship. Couples who desire a solid, Godly marriage will wisely pay attention to Paul : when he says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12-14).
Let`s look at that first command to "Put on" as another foundational principle in a Godly marriage....more
Kathleen Notes: Can you imagine how wonderful all of our relationships would be if we could put this into practice? "Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
Competence is the ability to effectively accomplish our goals. A competent person is able to stay on track,notice what`s needed in a given situation, and respond accordingly. Competent people act with feeling, even with inspiration, but don`t let emotions derail them. In other words, they overcome internal and external obstacles to stay on task and accomplish the goals they set for themselves. That means they`re able to read other people and respond appropriately to new situations.
Competence in adults is a prerequisite to achieving professional and personal success. But what is competence in children? Competent children are able to handle emotional challenges well enough to tackle the age-appropriate tasks of each stage of development, master them, and emerge with greater confidence. They have the emotional intelligence to manage themselves and to get along with others.
Children who see themselves as competent feel capable and powerful. They`re more likely to be resourceful, to believe in themselves, to attempt difficult challenges, and to exhibit resilience in the face of setbacks....more
Kathleen Notes: Feeling effective is also the basis of healthy self-esteem. Somehow we got that message messed up in the past.
Susan David, Ph.D.: “In South Africa, where I come from, “sawubona” is the Zulu word for “hello.” There’s a beautiful and powerful intention behind the word because “sawubona” literally translated means, “I see you, and by seeing you, I bring you into being.” So beautiful, imagine being greeted like that. But what does it take in the way we see ourselves? Our thoughts, our emotions and our stories that help us to thrive in an increasingly complex and fraught world?
This crucial question has been at the center of my life’s work. Because how we deal with our inner world drives everything. Every aspect of how we love, how we live, how we parent and how we lead. The conventional view of emotions as good or bad, positive or negative, is rigid. And rigidity in the face of complexity is toxic. We need greater levels of emotional agility for true resilience and thriving....more
Kathleen Notes: Emotions are not "good" or "bad", and God gave you a full set of them. Envision a piano keyboard: which keys aren`t necessary? Answer: none of them. Which ones are "bad"? Answer:none of them. Emotions are the same and each helps to play a different tune.
If I’d ever talked that way to my mother, she’d have killed me right
there on the spot!” Over the years, I’ve heard some form of this lament
from many parents complaining about the younger generation’s lack of
respect for adults. Some think it’s because their kids aren’t afraid of
them, not realizing that they don’t need their kids to be afraid of them
to get them to do what they want. They just need their kids to respect
them—and not their authority or status, but who they are and how they’ve
chosen to show up as a parent.
Kathleen Notes: Punishment doesn`t work...attunement does. When confronted by a behavioral problem, seek a relational answer.
It`s a dilemma we each face on a regular basis, right? When a woman walks down the street in an outfit displaying a generous portion of her birthday suit … when another child uses language that might be more appropriate for late-night cable … when something pops up on a commercial that you wish your kids hadn`t just witnessed. How do we help our kids know how to react—and still not raise a bunch of mini-Pharisees?
Distinguishing discernment from judgment
First, it`s important to draw a line between "judging" and "discerning." What`s the difference?
In a couple of words: humility and love....more
Kathleen Notes: In the quest to not be judgemental we don`t have to check our brains at the door, just remember to bring your heart along, too.
While these things may be something that you want, you might want to consider more important concerns, things I would call character issues. Character issues can make or break a relationship. Why would that be?
As a counselor, I also deal a lot with people who are having trouble with relationships. What kinds of things cause difficulties in relationships? The basics are:
Kathleen Notes: Every person you date is a potential spouse. When you think of it that way, using discernment becomes very important.
Your values affect every aspect of your life. When you feel stuck, they can help get you out of a rut; when you’re not sure what to do next, values help lead the way toward a meaningful life. There’s only one problem: Many of us draw a blank when it comes to actually defining our values.
That’s partly because values are complex. They are collection of your personal experiences, trials, and triumphs, along with everything that’s influenced your belief system. This includes your friends, family, culture, and education to name a few. Even the books you read and the entertainment you consume actively shape how you define yourself in relation to the outside world....more
Kathleen Notes: Values are individual, personal and all to often, vague. When you know yourself and what you value, decisions in life become so mush easier to make.
Life is filled with ups and downs. Even the most successful people face struggles on a daily basis, ask any therapist. Maybe you’re going through a bad divorce. Or, you could be facing serious financial problems. Or, it could be the sorrow of losing a loved one. In some cases, it could even be a combination of factors.
Truth be told, dealing with these situations and the many others we haven’t mentioned can be extremely difficult. People struggling with drug addiction, for example, find life really stressful. Sometimes it comes to a point where life loses meaning. However, if you want to live a life you can be proud of, you must find ways to overcome these lows and rise above your challenges. Below, we discuss five life truths that can set you free from the shackles of despair and set you on the path to happiness and a fulfilling life....more
Kathleen Notes: A good article although I feel like it`s missing some key points that as a Christian Counselor I would point out. For example: God has already met your greatest need through Jesus, He won`t drop the ball! God promises that although we will have trouble in this world (count on it!), He will be at your side.
Think of the people you most admire. What qualities do they have? It’s likely that character traits like being empathic, trustworthy, and a good listener, or having patience, a positive attitude, and being adaptable come to mind.
Surprisingly these traits that help people truly succeed in their careers are not necessarily the ones that make you the best programmer, number cruncher, or designer. And these “soft skills” are not the ones traditionally taught in school or in corporate training programs. And yet, according to business forecasters, they’re exactly the qualities employers are seeking more and more. Someone who embodies these interpersonal being skills—in addition to the specialized doing skills needed to perform their work—is highly desirable in today’s job market. It signals that not only can you get the job done, you’re going to bring people together at the same time. ...more
Kathleen Notes: These "soft skills" are essential: people skills. They help at work but also in pretty much every other part of your life!
Each week I will collect and reflect on 5 to 10 relevant articles about important topics like parenting, marriage, relationships, and families. Within these topics I will address the challenges and joys, struggles and solutions from a Positive and Strengths-based approach. I am a strong believer in the power of relationships to grow, nurture and heal the human mind and spirit. I hope you find one or two of these articles useful for your practice, classroom or household. My opinions are open to discussion and even disagreement, as they are intended to facilitate the sharing of multiple thoughts and ideas! This publication is offered by In the Moment Child and Family Therapy, LLC, a Ministry of Resurrection Lutheran Church (WELS) in Verona, Wisconsin.
I would really enjoy hearing your feedback if you care to give it at Kathleen@inthemomenttherapy.com
Sharing of this publication is encouraged so if you have a friend/relative/coworker who might enjoy it, feel free to forward them or encourage them to subscribe!