We must choose to love our spouses just the way they are for our marriages to stay healthy. We must choose to love our spouses with radical acceptance.
What is Radical Acceptance?
Radical acceptance is:
Spouses do things we perceive as foolish, mistaken, or absolutely wrong. They might even become, or are becoming, people we don’t like very much. We practice radical acceptance when we don’t try to change, control, or manipulate them to get our own way. We once loved our spouses just the way they were. Now we can accept them just the way they are....more
Kathleen Notes: This is true in marriage and in life. What you can`t change (i.e. not in your control) often causes stress and upset. When you accept, you turn the person, situation, etc. over to God, the One who changes everything.
Notice that the bulk of David`s prayer doesn`t mention his enemies. When I`m afraid, I have a tendency to obsess over what threatens me. But what does David do? Instead of worrying about his enemies` evil intentions, David focuses on God`s just and righteous character. David prays, "For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you" (Psalm 5:4). Since David knew God`s nature was to protect those who fear Him and to punish evildoers, he didn`t panic in the face of his enemies` threats. (Psalm 5:12; 97:10) He kept calm and remembered God`s character.
Like David, when trouble strikes we must comfort ourselves with truths about who God is, rather than obsess over the threats and insults of our enemies. Placing our confidence in God`s just character helps us maintain our composure even when evil appears to have the advantage....more
Kathleen Notes: There`s only one place to learn God`s character and that`s in His Word. Knowing that God has your back and will make "all things work together for the good of those who love Him" (Roman 8 vs 8)can make all the difference.
The problem with stay-at-home mothers is that they are often graded on the same scale as those that work outside the home.
There are tangible results of the work I do. I can produce a spreadsheet, a check stub, a report, recount my meetings, and do it all with pride. I can say “this is what I did today.” Mothers who are working in the home are often graded on the same scale, yet their work isn’t always tangible. There are no spreadsheets, no reports written, and often, the results are counter-intuitive to what one would think a successful day looks like....
....We often mistake money, entrepreneurship, and status as the baseline for productivity. It’s time we stop grading mothers on the cleanliness of their home and start valuing them for their selfless investment in others....more
Kathleen Notes: Whether you are a "working mom" (what a joke...ALL moms are working moms) or a "stay at home mom", what you do everyday is invaluable, even if it often feels thankless. The hand that rocks the cradle, rocks the world.
Then it happens: Maybe because we are exhausted from their constant begging for a phone, or because we think that all their friends have one, or because we want to upgrade ours to the latest model…we cave. We act on impulse. Our brain seems to regress like theirs, and we give them our old smartphone.
And with that one little decision comes the world of social media access—something we haven’t thought about and something none of us is prepared for. Because the midbrain is reorganizing itself and risk-taking is high and impulse control is low, I can’t imagine a worse time in a child’s life to have access to social media than middle school. Here are just a few reasons why:...more
Kathleen Notes: Kids this age have other developmental tasks that should be on the front burner. They aren`t ready for this yet.
It`s often hard to get them outside and to resist warning them against dangers or to stay clean. But Angela Hanscom said that left with the time and the freedom, kids will naturally engage in the kind of activities their bodies need, whether that`s jumping or digging or spinning or hanging upside down on the monkey bars.....
......Outdoor play, she urged, is essential to developing strength, an understanding of reflexes, concentration and good balance....more
Over her years working with children, she said she`s seen a dramatic shift in children`s behaviour, which she attributes to a change in their play.
In her practice, kids in general are much weaker than they used to be and have poorer balance. Some kids are being treated clinically for not being able to stay upright in their seats and being clumsy.
Kathleen Notes: It`s a kid`s job to get dirty...and experiment...and even fail sometimes. It`s a parent`s job to facilitate that.
...Denis’ A. Thomas and Melanie H. Morris (2017) wrote, “Although most counselors have knowledge about self-care and convey the importance to others, the same knowledge may not translate into self-care action — often when it is needed most.” Apparently, as a group, we practitioners haven’t learned much about the application of self-care in our own lives over the past few decades.
This is such a bizarre paradox. Counselors, of all people, should know better. We are trained to take care of ourselves, and we emphasize the importance of self-care to our clients. Yet my self-confidence in those days caused me to naively believe that crisis wouldn’t knock on my door. I think in some ways, when counselors talk about self-care, it is more of an academic conversation than a real one. It may be something like the fact that we all know we are going to die someday, but it isn’t real to us until we stare it square in the face.
Divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job and chronic mental health issues strike counselors’ homes and lives just as they do the rest of the population, and these issues are potentially just as damaging to us as they are to those who are not in the field of mental health....more
Kathleen Notes: This is a shout out to my colleagues who read this newsletter. I would also add anyone who is in a "helping" profession: pastors, teachers, healthcare professionals, emergency responders, etc. You have a need (and I would argue an ethical responsibility) to see to your own self care. Without it, you are impaired.
The fundamental question is whether these feelings are a good thing. To answer that, it’s worth quoting the movie Bridge of Spies. Mark Rylance plays the spy Rudolf Abel. He’s asked at one point whether he is worried, and he responds, “Would it help?”
In this case, the answer is, “It depends.”
Guilt can sometimes be motivating. For example, feelings of guilt can increase people’s propensity to cooperate. And, in some cases, guilt can also motivate people to make progress on projects that have stalled. At a minimum, guilt does not seem to make people worse at completing tasks. However, feeling guilty when you’re away from work, when you aren’t in a position to do anything about it, is not helpful, and can be painful. It will make you feel worse about your job in general and spoil time that you could be spending with friends, family, or engaging in an enjoyable activity....more
Kathleen Notes: Guilt can have a motivating effect, but often we choose to let it paralyze us. Remember that your job isn`t your life, it`s what makes your life possible.
According to these studies, 76% of churchgoers agree that suicide is a problem that needs to be proactively addressed in their local communities and 84% agree churches have a responsibility to provide resources and support to individuals with mental illness and their families. Overwhelmingly, churchgoers agree that suicide and mental health need to be addressed and that the church has a responsibility to be a leading voice in the conversation.
Among Protestant churchgoers who have had a family member or close acquaintance die by suicide, only 4% said that church leaders were aware of the person’s struggles or risk of suicide in the months prior to death; and another 4% said that church members were aware.
This is antithetical to how the church should function relationally—our churches should always be places of safety and community for those wrestling with any issue, especially those involving mental health....more
Kathleen Notes: I am blessed to be a part of Resurrection Lutheran`s counseling ministry where the church is seen as a place where hurting people can be embraced and helped. "The church is for the broken. A church without the broken is a broken church." Ed Stetzer
Ketogenic diets have been around for about 100 years, and have proved to be invaluable tools in the treatment of stubborn neurological conditions, most notably epilepsy. They have also shown promise in the management of other brain-based disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, Traumatic Brain Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, and chronic headaches, as well as in metabolic disorders like obesity, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
But where does the science currently stand on the ketogenic diet and psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s Disease? How many human studies do we have, and what do they tell us? If you are struggling with mood, attention, or memory problems, should you try a ketogenic diet? If you are a clinician, should you recommend a ketogenic diet to your patients?...more
Kathleen Notes: Not a recommendation by any means, but fascinating research for geeks like me. Just another reference to the brain/body connection and how we nourish ourselves could possibly make a difference.
Whether you’re dining out, shopping for groceries, or sitting at home on your couch, food temptation is a force to be reckoned with. Images of sweet, decadent desserts, salty snacks and mouth-watering meals are omnipresent in magazines, on TV, and on social media, and quick and easy (but unhealthy) options are available at nearly every store you walk into.
When you’re trying to manage your emotions, it’s easy to turn to food for comfort, but the fix is short-lived and choosing the wrong foods can leas to increased cravings, worsened symptoms, and weight gain.
For 52-year-old Carrie B., of New Haven, Connecticut, who has bipolar II, adding certain anti-inflammatory foods like green leafy vegetables, salmon and nuts to her diet helped her feel satiated and improved her mood. “My brain literally works differently now,” she explains. “I actually do not think and cannot think the same way I used to think.”...more
Kathleen Notes: It appears that you really ARE what you eat!
What couples in a “good enough” relationship do:
Kathleen Notes: Good enough sounds pretty good....
I`m not suggesting that you binge on cookies or go on vacation without your children. Our kids depend on us to help regulate them emotionally, which means that we have an obligation to regulate ourselves emotionally. If a cookie will help you do that, by all means, go ahead. But my hope for you is much more profound.
My hope is that you`ll find habits that support you in staying more peaceful and centered. If you can use your love for your child as your motivation to do the hard work of learning to regulate your own emotions and moods, you’ll be giving your child a tremendous gift. But the gift to yourself will be even greater, because you’ll end up happier and more emotionally healthy....more
Kathleen Notes: As always, emotional (affect) regulation is the ticket to keeping your own cup full. Then you will have enough to share. Check out the next article for more...
It is true that sometimes the black sheep is indeed “odd” by anyone’s standards (sometimes the result of a hidden mental illness). Or she may be a sociopath who violates the family’s boundaries and care, so that the family has to exclude her to rightfully protect themselves.
But surprisingly, very seldom is either of these scenarios actually the case. Many, many black sheep are lovable folks with much to offer their families and the world. In fact, they are often the best and brightest. They may be the most creative of the family, or the one with the most powerful emotions.
In truth, the world is full of black sheep. Think hard. Does your
family have one? This question is not as easy to answer as it may seem,
for many black sheep are not physically excluded from the family. For most, it’s much more subtle. The exclusion is emotional.
Kathleen Notes:..also known as a scapegoat...often the person in the family who is emotionally strong enough to carry the emotional load for the family.
When I am tempted to put my own perceived happiness above the responsibilities you have placed in my life, please shake me and point me to the truth in your Word. Even "responsibilities" are blessings from your gracious hand that the Devil has painted with the facade of "hard work", "no fun", and "have to do it".......
......God never said, "Be happy, because I the Lord your God am happy."He did say, "Be holy, because I the Lord your God am holy."
God never said, "My grace doesn`t cover that sin."
He did say, "My grace is sufficient for you."
God never said, "People will never change."
He did say, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
and "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails."
God never said, "Whatever you do, give it a good shot."
He did say, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart." ...more
Kathleen Notes: God also never said:"Go figure it out for yourself"
This subtle failure to act on the part of their parents had left them struggling in adulthood with something which they could not remember or name. So I began to study how it happens, and how it could lead to these particular problems for my patients. I discovered that children whose feelings are not validated or responded to enough receive an unstated but powerful message from their parents. That message is:
Your feelings don’t matter.
Children who receive this message automatically adapt. They push their own emotions down and away so that they will not trouble their parents, or even themselves.
In this process, they lose access to their own emotions, which are a vital source of connection, guidance, meaning, and joy. Without this resource (their emotions), these children grow into adults who feel rudderless, set apart, disconnected and alone....more
Kathleen Notes: Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) requires an adult to "re-parent" themselves in order to heal. If you don`t have it, you can`t give it.
In 2 Samuel 23:10, we’re told that an Israelite soldier holds his sword in the cold for so long that his hand “cleaves” to the metal sword. What stands out here is that this is the same word used in Genesis 2:24 to describe God’s purpose in marriage: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife.” God’s design for marriage is that we embark on a lifelong journey of leaving our old loyalties behind and joining ourselves to our spouse such that we are stuck together like a hand to a frozen sword--or a tongue to a metal flagpole! What does that entail?
Reorient the structure
ancient Israelite culture valued the place of the family. Your parents
were to be honored, and respected all life long--and yet, God says that
when a couple marries, loyalty to their family of origin takes second
place to the newly created family. Marriage requires that our first and
highest human loyalty is to our spouse.
Kathleen Notes: Here`s how it works: God first, then your spouse, then everyone else...yes, that includes parents, children, friends, etc.
Self-care is about recharging and reducing stress
"Self-care is a way to recharge our mental and emotional energy," says Dr. Ryan Hooper, a clinical psychologist. "If we don’t do self-care on a regular basis we will eventually feel drained and burned out. Self-care doesn’t have to take a ton of time; in fact, sometimes it’s the quick, simple things that are happening on a regular basis that keep us recharged."
Dr. Farrah Hauke, Psy.D, a licensed psychologist, adds that self-care is "absolutely vital" to emotional well being. "It is incredibly important because it can decrease stress as well as anxiety and depressive symptoms. It also helps us to be more productive and mindful of our needs which helps us to proactively address problems.” She too agrees that self-care “does not have to be time consuming or expensive."...more
Kathleen Notes:Self care isn`t selfish and ideally is simply integrated into everyday life. Getting enough sleep, good nutrition, exercise and relaxation are good starts.
For many years prior to working as a counselor, I was a personal trainer and fitness instructor with a fitness ministry focused on body, mind, and spirit. God has created the three to work together as one. The mind is strong, and what we think and tell ourselves motivates us. When engaging in exercise from a healthy perspective, there are no negative effects and the benefits to mind, body, and spirit are many:
Kathleen Notes: For more on this topic, I highly recommend the book "Spark" by John Ratey.
It’s not an uncommon desire. In fact, it may be a near-universal one. With varying levels of success, we try to hold on to good emotions and ward off the bad ones — but research suggests that those efforts, at least when it comes to negative feelings, may be misplaced.....
........But studies have shown that the ability to embrace your negative feelings can provide a slew of benefits. Those who accept all their emotions without judgment tend to be less likely to ruminate on negativity, less likely to try to suppress mental experiences (which can backfire by amplifying these experiences), and less likely to experience negative “meta-emotional reactions,” like feeling upset about feeling upset. Or, as the authors of a recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology put it: “When people accept (versus judge) their mental experiences, those experiences run their natural — and relatively short-lived — course, rather than being exacerbated.”...more
Kathleen Notes: You can`t suppress the "bad" emotions without suppressing all of them. God gave you all of these emotions for a reason. He knew you would need them.
Coping skills are activities anyone can do to help manage difficult thoughts and feelings or challenging situations. It’s important for everyone to know and use coping skills. Not all coping skills work in every situation, so it’s good to have a variety to help manage different challenges.
When I think about coping skills, I tend to divide them into 5 categories - Relaxation, Movement, Distraction, Processing and Sensory coping skills. In this post, I`m focusing on Relaxation Coping Skills, those skills designed to help your child calm down, settle and chill out....more
Kathleen Notes: Self care is for kids, in fact childhood is where we best learn it!
Personal boundaries aren’t easy to establish. There is no litmus test
that tells you when or what sort of behavioral limit setting is needed
at any given time. There are no concrete measurements that reveal when a
personal boundary is too rigid or too loose, or when it needs to be
adjusted. Navigating relational boundaries requires that you know
yourself, and that is an individual journey. Although challenging, it is
worth the effort and can deliver rewards such as intimacy and closeness
fundamental personal boundary is one that defines you, who you are, and
what makes you “you.” Without a boundary, you are defined by others,
and there is no “you” for others to be in relationship with--others just
see you as an extension of themselves. You need to know where you end
and where the other begins in order to relate to another person in a
Kathleen Notes: What`s involved? You have to create your boundaries, no one else can do it for you. That means you get to: Discover yourself, No one can tell you what to Feel/Embrace the Feelings, Take your thoughts captive, Claim responsibility/Reject Responsibility,
In fact, the research shows that children in play-based preschools do better both socially and academically, in kindergarten and in the later grades, than kids in preschools that focus on academics. That implies that kids who start kindergarten not knowing any of these things will probably learn them quickly. So the idea of kindergarten-readiness seems to me to be based on some problematic assumptions, at best. To me, kindergarten-readiness means the child is ready to listen to the teacher, and ready to work things out with other children.
But since the US kindergarten curriculum assumes children entering kindergarten will know certain things, many parents get anxious about getting their child kindergarten-ready. Luckily, the things your child is expected to know are all things that he or she can learn easily in the course of daily life, just by your asking questions ("What`s that letter?")...more
Kathleen Notes: My lament for many years, especially since research shows that children who are pushed academically don`t hold their "edge" for long. Those who are able to develop when and where they need to as an individual do so much better over the long run.
Simon & Garfunkel once famously declared their rejection of love: “Don’t talk of love,” they sang, followed by their well-known refrain: “I am a rock, I am an island.” Having been hurt by love, they resolved never to open themselves to another person again. While their music may have spoken to many a wounded heart, Simon & Garfunkel`s poetic declaration was wishful thinking--no one is, or really wants to be, an island. In fact, when God looked down at a world yet unspoiled by sin, he found the sole person he had made to be incomplete: “And God said, ‘it is not good that Adam should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” (Gen. 2:18). Imagine that! Even in a perfect world, God saw something that wasn’t yet good--and by performing the world’s first surgery, God answers Adam’s need in a way that points us to God’s purpose for marriage even today. As we bring our marriages in line with God’s design, we’ll discover the joy God intends for us in marriage. ...more
Kathleen Notes: Companionship (i.e.friendship) is a vital component of a happy marriage. Would you hang out with someone you don`t like? Of course not. Likewise, it`s important to spend your time,space and life with a good friend!
“How do you feel when Theo treats you that way?” I gently asked, leading, a bit self-consciously, with the classic therapist question. Max, eyes downcast, simply shrugged off my question, continuing to look defeated and downright deflated. His mom, who had joined us for the session leaned in. “Max, can you show us what you feel like?” Max sighed, sat up straight, and then crumpled over.
“You look,” his mother suggested, “like a wilted flower.”
With his brain and body flooded with emotion, sadness and shame, logic and language failed, but his body language told the story of the trauma. Often when people of any age struggle to find the words to express how they feel, whether from lack of language or from the crushing shame, it can help to simply make an expressive sound like a sigh or show someone with their body language how they feel....more
Kathleen Notes: As the school year begins, those of us with children in our lives (parents, teachers, caregivers,etc.)need to attune to what is going on. Bullying thrives in the shadows and self-blame/shame keeps it there. This article gives kids a wonderful way to cope and thrive.
A partner with pursuing behavior tends to respond to relationship stress by moving toward the other. They seek communication, discussion, togetherness, and expression. They are urgent in their efforts to fix what they think is wrong. They are anxious about the distance their partner has created and take it personally.
They criticize their partner for being emotionally unavailable. They believe they have superior values. If they fail to connect, they will collapse into a cold, detached state. They are labeled needy, demanding, and nagging.
A partner with distancing behavior tends to respond to relationship stress by moving away from the other. They want physical and emotional distance. They have difficulty with vulnerability.
They respond to their anxiety by retreating into other activities to distract themselves. They see themselves as private and self-reliant. They are most approachable when they don’t feel pressured, pushed, or pursued. They are labeled unavailable, withholding, and shut down....more
Kathleen Notes: Read all of the way through...I bet you will see yourself...I did.
The pledge is for smartphones only. Parents who want to wait on a smartphone but will allow their child to have a basic phone that just calls and texts can sign the pledge. The organization sees basic phones as free of many of the distractions and dangers of the smartphone.
Wait Until 8th wants to "let kids be kids a little longer." This was certainly the motivation of the Chigounis family, as well as a desire to keep Sophia safe.
"The main motivations for holding out were the addictive nature of the phones and the inappropriate texting, pictures and situations that occur with phones today," Erica Chigounis said. "We didn`t want her exposed to those things until she was older." Cyberbullying was also a concern....more
Kathleen Notes: I like this idea and not just because it keeps kiddos from smartphones until they are ready. I appreciate the sense of community and support the parents are giving to each other.
The lucky among us recognize obsessive behavior early. Many of us, however, get stuck in the obsessive brain. We know that something is not right, but rational thought seems to be pushed aside.
Obsessive thoughts and behavior can come with balanced mood, but especially with hypomania and mania. We have energy to do things, and this one thing we are doing makes us feel good. Since it feels good we want to do more of it. Soon we are thinking of nothing else. Normal daily activities get left by the wayside.
From here it is not pretty. We think about this one thing when we go to bed. Obsessing keeps us from falling asleep. We wake up tired in the morning—and still thinking about our obsession. We know there are other things that need to be done at home, at work, and with friends and family. We try to think about these things. But our minds keep going back to the obsession....more
Kathleen Notes: Everyone experiences this from time to time. If it is happening often, it`s time to get some assistance. Read on for more insight and some good ideas.
All of this sounds rightly agreeable when laid out in those terms. No one thinks of herself as a sloppy thinker, but then, such is the tautology; a careful thinker would already know the pitfalls in his own process. Even then, history is littered with terrible ideas that lasted a very long time. As Carl Sagan wrote in his book Cosmos of Ptolemy, an astronomer of ancient Greece, “his Earth-centered universe held sway for 1,500 years, a reminder that intellectual capacity is no guarantee against being dead wrong.”
It’s freeing to realize you’re probably, profoundly, deeply wrong about something you believe very much. Freeing, because it gives you permission to think intently on what exactly that might be. We’re all victims of our hard-wiring, you see, and May revels in citing studies in neuroscience and behavioral psychology to point to our flaws, as well as our ability to overcome those. “The brain is passive hardware, absorbing experience, and the mind is active software, directing our attention,” he writes. “But not just any software—it’s intelligent software, capable of rewiring the hardware. I could not have said that with confidence a few decades ago, but modern science is a wonderful thing.” This is, in a nutshell, the value of bothering to bother. The more you force yourself to think slowly, the more likely your brain becomes to engage that gear....more
Kathleen Notes: I think our world moves too fast the way it is. When we slow our thinking we can engage all of our brain, not just the impulses.
In fact, research indicates that money is near the top of the list when it comes to issues that cause conflict in marriage. Perhaps you are experiencing the ongoing arguments that stem from differing ideas on where to spend your paycheck. Maybe you’ve fought recently about whether or not you should save or splurge. Maybe you’re worn out by the stress that comes when there’s month left at the end of the paycheck. And maybe you’re tired of seeing your spouse as an adversary instead of an ally when it comes to managing money. What can you do to work as a team?...
Stewards, Not OwnersThe first principle you and your spouse must own is that whether we live in an ocean-front condo or rent a studio apartment, we are not owners of anything. As Christians, we acknowledge that everything belongs to God, and therefore, we are stewards of all we have. The parable of the tenants (Matthew 25:14-30) teaches us, among other things, that we are servants that God has entrusted with his wealth, to manage for his glory. One practical implication of this is that setting a budget is a necessity for married couples. Budgeting is a way of determining your priorities, and being intentional about managing the money God entrusts to you.
Kathleen Notes: I think if people/couples can begin to see that they are less "owners" and more "managers" of the financial blessings that God gives, it impacts how they view money and their relationship to it.
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 and Monroe, 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!