Hate Hate

If you love your family and your friends and those who agree with you but hate one, two, or ten people who disagree with you, you are, by definition, still a hater. All your love for the others who are like you doesn’t stop you from being a hater. Even if you hate someone because they hate others, you are still a hater. You are joining in their cause. Satan doesn’t really care why you hate. He just wants you to hate. Whether your hatred is based on personal grievance, prejudice, political persuasion, or anything else, you are still, by definition, a person of hate even if you hate just one person.  And that makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution.

If you only hate Republicans or only hate Democrats, you are still a hater. If you only hate whites, or blacks, or men, or women, you still are a hater. No hatred is purer than any other hatred. Arguing that your hatred is justified for any reason is like members of the Ku Klux Klan arguing over who amongst them is most like Christ when their very membership, the cause that joins them, denies and mocks Christ our Creator. None of them are like Christ. There is no holy KKK alliance. And there is no holy hater.

When it comes to people, the only thing we should hate is hate. God wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). For me to curse anyone, or wish ill on anyone, is for me to curse God’s plans, desires, and heart for that person. When hate enters my heart, I begin working against God’s will. I am no longer a God follower. I am, by definition, a God resister. Another word for this is antichrist.

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Kathleen Notes: God tells us to love instead of hate. Why? Because He knows how destructive it is to us mentally, emotionally, physically and especially spiritually. Here`s the best part...He enables us to do it with His strength!

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This Ode to Self-Worth Is Required Reading For Your Inner Critic
I’m learning more and more that how we talk to and treat ourselves really matters. On good days, when life is humming along, I don’t take much note of my inner monologue. However, when I make a mistake or best laid plans go sideways, I find I can become my own worst enemy and harshest critic. Case in point: I recently had a couple of minor mishaps at work that happened one right after another (it sucks when that happens, right?). While it is uncharacteristic of my normal performance, I quickly began making unforgiving assessments of myself, doubting my effectiveness, and ultimately getting really down on myself. While the blunders passed, the funk from my mistakes lasted for a couple of days.    ...more

Kathleen Notes: When you understand the value that God places on you, you can better value yourself. When you understand how God forgives you in Jesus, you can also forgive yourself.

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When Someone Really Listens, We Heal
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.”

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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!

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Love and Bipolar: Real-Life Tips From Four Long-Term Couples

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.)....

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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

 

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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.

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What You Practice Grows Stronger

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.

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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!

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So, What is Therapy Anyway?

"Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed"(Prov 15:22).

Therapy, short for psychotherapy, can seem like a mystery if you have never experienced it. The word psychotherapy can be intimidating. What does the word “psycho” mean? Pop culture unfortunately uses that word to describe a person who is dangerous, deranged, or homicidal. Because no one wants to think of themselves as “psycho,” it’s understandable that making an appointment to talk with a psychotherapist can be daunting. The word psych simply refers to the mind, soul, or spirit. Psychotherapy is the healing or treatment of the mind, soul, or spirit. The words therapy and counseling are used interchangeably in practice. ...

.....Christian counseling or therapy is no different than regular counseling in regards to professional aspects and overall procedure when done by a licensed professional. However, Christian counseling has the added components of a biblical worldview and combining the client`s spiritual beliefs into the therapy session itself. Spiritual guidance and nurturing is present in Christian counseling through discussion of how faith and prayer provide hope, build coping skills, and transform people. A Christian counselor is able to help clients strengthen their faith and to provide spiritual support through praying with clients when requested. And as members of the universal Christian church, Christian therapists are part of the way we as Christ`s body hold each other up and bear one another`s burden`s. The Holy Spirit calls and equips Christian therapists to build up Christ`s church.

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Kathleen Notes: Everything you always wanted to know. Counseling is a big step for many people. I am so grateful that I am allowed to do this work and have much respect for my clients. As a Christian it`s important to find a counselor who aligns with your biblical beliefs when looking for answers.

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The Dark Side of Your Emotional Needs – Challenge

When have you felt most alive? I’m willing to bet it’s when you’ve been so engrossed, so engaged in some part of life that nothing else mattered in the moment. Perhaps you were rising to some sublime creative challenge or surmounting some difficulty you had no idea you could surmount.

How do we feel in such times?...

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Boredom, before we know it, will break us. A lack of challenge and excitement leads to a sense that life is meaningless. As long as there is no or little challenge or surprise we disengage, become depressed, no longer feel alive.

“The Devil makes work for idle hands” – and unstimulated minds.

Without meaning we feel stale and lost. We are here to learn, flourish, work toward our potentials (we have many). We need to feel activated, intrigued, invigorated and enlivened by our days, at least some of the time.

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Kathleen Notes: How to find that "sweet spot" ..a connection between activity and meaning? It requires looking inward to know and respect yourself for you are as a unique individual. What is meaningful to you may or may not work for someone else, so don`t compare or stay busy for the sake of busy-ness.

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Back to School: Healthy Habits for Children
The kids have their backpacks; check. Pencils, crayons, calculator, notepads, and paper; check, check. Whether this is their first day of kindergarten or their senior year of high school it never gets any easier. Preparing kids for school can be a daunting task, but now that they are back in the classroom, keeping a structured routine and forming healthy habits is just as challenging. However, maintaining a healthy routine can help kids learn better, behave better in class, and build better relationships with you and their classmates.
Helping children develop healthy habits before the school year begins is very important for the learning process. It not only improves brain development, it also helps children follow directions, listen to the teacher, take exams and reach their potential. Here are just a few back to school essentials and ways to improve the learning process for students while creating a better back-to-school experience for parents.
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Kathleen Notes: Studies have shown that the habits listed in this article are much more effective than regular homework assignments. Take a look to see what you might add this school year.

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Stress: It`s Not in Your Head, It`s in Your Nervous System

However, if the stress response is not processed, it remains in the tissues of the body. When a subsequent stressful event that does not pose a serious threat occurs, the traumatic memory is recalled. A large amount of stress hormones are released. Blood rushes to extremities, pupils dilate, muscle tone increases presenting as tension, breathing rate increases, the heartbeats faster, and sweating occurs. Hence, the nervous system responds as if this small incident is life threatening.

This biological response is clearly beyond the ability to rationally control. You can’t think your way out of it. Chronic stress leads to dissociation or immobility, a state of sympathetic charge and hormonal release, which is health damaging. The brainstem (the primitive part of the brain) governs emotional experience and biological response. When the brainstem is activated by the fight or flight response, it trumps the more developed front of the brain, the prefrontal cortex. It is therefore not possible to be in the primitive state of fight or flight and also to think rationally and critically (as the prefrontal cortex would have us do).

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Kathleen Notes: A good explanation of the trauma response and how it impacts us. To learn how to handle it, you have to understand it.

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Bipolar & The Importance Of Faith

Those who do participate in communal worship or have a committed personal practice often credit their faith or spirituality for helping them feel more grounded when their world gets shaky.

John T. of Chesterfield, Missouri, draws strength from membership in his nondenominational Christian church, where the pastor is a dear friend and source of emotional support. He also finds comfort in the [old testament]. After reading the Psalms of David during one psychiatric hospitalization, he wrote in the margins: “I’m not alone. I don’t feel forsaken.”

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Kathleen Notes: Research proves what many of us have already known: faith provides support, comfort and a foundation of good mental, emotional and spiritual health. It makes all the sense in the world for churches to be involved in counseling and mental health issues. In The Moment Child & Family Therapy, LLC is so blessed to be a part of the ministry of Resurrection Lutheran Church!

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Loving Your Mom the Way She Needs It

Yet, not all people receive love through the same channel. While my mom may cherish receiving a new outfit from her children, your mom might give anything to have someone cook her a meal. Matthew 19:19 records Jesus’ saying, “Honor your father and your mother, and, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In essence, then, our process of deciding how to honor our mothers should depend on the answer to: how does Mom experience love the most? It’s not about how much I enjoy buying her gifts; it’s about doing for her what speaks clearest “I love you”.

Gary Chapman’s excellent book The 5 Love Languages lends us a helpful grid to assess how we each best experience love. The five languages of which he speaks include:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
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Kathleen Notes: Not sure how your mom feels loved? Think about how she shows love to others for a start. Most people show love the way they receive it. If necessary, you could always ask mom to fill out the quiz at http://www.5lovelanguages.com. It could start a wonderful conversation...I bet Mom would love that...I`m a quality time girl myself...

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The Difference Between “Being” and “Doing”

The activities of the mind are related to patterns of brain activity. Different mental activities, such as reading a book, painting a picture, or talking to a loved one, each involve different patterns of interaction between networks of nerve cells in the brain. The networks involved in one activity are often different from those involved in another activity. Networks can also be linked together in different patterns. If we looked into the brain, we would see shifting patterns in the activity of networks and in their connections with each other as the mind moves from one task to another. For a while, one pattern predominates, then a shift occurs, so brain networks that previously interacted in one pattern now do so in a different configuration. Over time, we would see the different activities of the mind reflected in continually shifting and evolving patterns of interaction between brain networks.

If we looked long enough, we would see that a limited number of core patterns of brain activity and interaction seem to crop up as recurring features in a wide variety of different mental activities. These core patterns reflect some basic “modes of mind.”

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Kathleen Notes: How the brain works is fascinating...God made it to do amazingly complex tasks. Having a basic understanding can help to make sense of why you respond the way you do!

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17 `Small,` but Significant, Lifestyle Changes That Help People With Anxiety

We’re not talking about a miracle cure. We’re not saying breathing on a mat will make your problems go away. It’s just important to remember while you’re rolling your eyes that you’re not helpless in this fight. While something that worked for one person might not work for you, that doesn’t mean nothing works for you — or that daily, destructive anxiety is inevitable.

Of course, that being said, anxiety will still happen, and when it rears its ugly head, it’s not your fault. It doesn’t mean you didn’t “try hard enough.” But for some of us, a slight change or tweak in our routine can at least make the fall a little softer, and the anxiety a bit more manageable. Making small changes also doesn’t replace seeing a therapist or taking medication, if that’s what you need. It’s just important to know there are options out there.

To find out some small changes people made that made a significant difference in their life with anxiety, we reached out to our mental health community. Is this there something on this list you’d try?    ...more

Kathleen Notes: Anxiety is the #1 reason why people seek out a counselor. You`re not alone and more importantly, you`re NOT helpless!!

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If you love your kids, let them learn to live without you
Whatever confidence I have today began with my parents allowing me to take risks, do things on my own, and learn from my successes and from my failures.

Unfortunately, helicopter parenting has become the new normal and the way today’s parents seem to be showing their love, but it has dire consequences for college-aged kids.
When I went to university at the age of nineteen I dealt with the ups and downs of being away from home for the first time without having to lean on my parents. It would never have occurred to me to involve them in my academic or social life.
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Kathleen Notes: Self-efficacy is the foundation of good self esteem. There are no short cuts to developing it, but parents can help. How? By teaching and then getting out of the way. That tells your kids that you think they can handle it, giving them encouragement to hang in there and figure things out.

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When Children Lose Control

Gone are the days of children being “seen and not heard.” Today’s parents know that it’s healthy for a child to express a broad range of emotions. But parents sometimes struggle with how to help their child rein in the big feelings. Knowing how to regulate emotions means more than just avoiding outbursts in the candy aisle. It’s about learning how to cope with disappointment, handle frustration, self-soothe in times of stress and seek support from family or friends when needed.

Even well-meaning parents can inadvertently get in the way of a child learning these skills. When a parent avoids situations that are emotionally challenging, routinely gives in to tantrums or rushes in to fix things, the child loses the opportunity to practice and bolster their own coping abilities. “Kids need scaffolding and a support system in their parents, but they also need opportunities to learn how to tolerate and manage discomfort, which will help them in the long run,” said Susan Calkins, a professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who has been studying emotional regulation in children for nearly 30 years.

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Kathleen Notes: Childhood is when emotional regulations skills are learned and refined, usually by the child`s parents. If it doesn`t happen then it can still be learned, but usually only after a great deal of problems and pain bring its` lack to the surface. Parents: you can`t teach what you don`t have. Seek out resources like a counselor, parenting coach or books on emotions. Send me an email if you`d like suggestions, I`d be happy to help.

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Get Real with Everything: A Savoring Practice

The word “savoring” crops up a lot in instructions for mindful eating, but why stop there? Inspired by that notion, I recently decided to challenge myself to a week of savoring things. As I started out, I began to see that I was automatically leaving lots of things out—things that were, well, unsavory—so the challenge had to undergo some immediate reengineering. It would have to become about savoring everything. Yikes.

That immediately led me to the understanding that if I was going to savor the unsavory I would have to be thankful somehow for whatever came my way. I would have to embrace the artificially sweetened (but still valuable) “attitude of gratitude.” It was a bit of a revelation. What I was prepared for was taking time to really enjoy things, in the present moment. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much it would challenge underlying attitudes and assumptions. When the week was over, I came to some conclusions about how savoring can reach into every area of life. Here’s a little of what I learned about savory thankfulness (some of which may just spill over into life during weeks when I’m not explicitly challenging myself).

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Kathleen Notes: Savoring...some might say that is staying In The Moment (shameless plug, I admit). What would change about YOU if you became more aware of everything in your life, both the positive and the challenging?

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Want a Better Relationship? Shift Your Thinking

When you approach someone who is important to you from an “I want to get along with you” perspective, rather than an “I should get along with you” or “I need to get along with you” perspective, you have a better chance of a positive outcome.

 Think about it: “I want to get along with you” means it’s an option for me, not a requirement. I am making a choice to have a better relationship with you, the other person, simply because I want to. My energy toward you is therefore more relaxed and less pressured.

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Kathleen Notes: Having an "I want to" perspective on your relationships restores a sense of your own ability to affect a change i.e. a sense of control.

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Choosing to Love: Radical Acceptance

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:

  • Recognizing reality, good and bad
  • Not attempting to control,
  • Not attempting to protest, and
  • Just resting.

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.

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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.

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Keep Calm and Remember God`s Character

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.

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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.

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The invisible work of a stay at home mom

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.

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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.

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Bullying: A Christian Perspective and Response
A Christian perspective and response to bullying attitudes and behaviors can bring healing to hurting relationships. The Christian shouldn’t be shocked that their son or daughter might be guilty of the problem because they know that fallen man is by nature a sinner. We are all prone to commit injustices and omit mercy in both individual and relational contexts. People are capable of mistreating other people implicitly and explicitly at many different levels because we’re all sinners prone to self-centeredness, abusiveness, and distortion of proper social behavior. It’s important that we recognize these assumptions so we can more honestly identify bully tendencies and behavior in ourselves and others. As we look at our various roles relative to the problem of bullying, we need to realize and accept the magnitude of responsibility that we all have to prevent, remediate, and repair the damage that comes from bullying. Parents, siblings, extended family, teachers, classmates, friends, and colleagues are a few of the relational groups that have both a role and responsibility that can be part of the problem however must be part of the solution.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: A well written article and one that looks at the whole problem. It`s not enough to protect and heal the victims, but also to call the person who is "the bully" to repentance. This is sin and must be taken seriously.

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The therapy behind play therapy
“Play therapy is real therapy,” says Wroton, a registered play therapist who works with clients ages 3-12 at a group outpatient practice in Hampton, Virginia. “Play is the medium through which the therapy occurs. … The play helps them open up to make better connections.”...
.....A quote from play therapy researcher and author Garry Landreth is often used to explain the method’s effectiveness: “In the play therapy experience, toys are like the child’s words, and play is the child’s language.”
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Kathleen Notes: Play therapy for kids AND adults is available at In The Moment Child and Family Therapy. Come check out our play therapy room(s) at both Verona and Monroe locations!

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Living Life on Autopilot? 3 Steps to Find Your Vitality

Do you feel bored in your life? 

Do you enjoy happy occasions less than you should? 

Do you sometimes feel emotionally numb? 

Do other people seem to experience more intense joy, love or closeness than you do? 

Do you sometimes question the purpose and value of your life? 

Do you put others’ needs before your own? 

If you answered “yes” to two or more of the questions above, it may be a sign that you’re on autopilot. What does this mean? It means that you do not have enough access to your true emotions.

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Kathleen Notes: An important topic but I have to admit that I also chose this article because I really liked the picture.

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People Like You More Than You Think, Study Finds
There’s nothing worse than meeting a new person and having the distinct feeling that you’re messing up—and that the other person is thinking poorly of you as a result. But a new study in the journal Psychological Science offers good reason to let yourself off the hook. Researchers from Cornell, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Essex find that people almost always think their conversation mate’s opinion of them is lower than it actually is. This “liking gap,” as the authors say, occurs across ages and can take months to disappear. Luckily, most of it is in our heads....
.....The authors suggest a few psychological explanations for the liking gap phenomenon. One is that people are often their own worst critics: we often spend time recalling what we did “wrong” so we can improve for the next time. So a person may go over what he or she perceives as foibles, although the conversation mate generally has no clue that there were foibles at all.
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Kathleen Notes: I`m reminded of the "Barry Manilow T-shirt" experiment from back in the 90`s to test the "Spotlight Effect." The result? Very few people noticed and even less cared because they were more focused on how they appeared.

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What if all I want is a ‘mediocre’ life?

What if I all I want is a small, slow, simple life? What if I am most happy in the space of in between? Where calm lives. What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that?

The world is such a noisy place. Loud, haranguing voices lecturing me to hustle, to improve, build, strive, yearn, acquire, compete and grasp for more. For bigger and better. Sacrifice sleep for productivity. Strive for excellence. Go big or go home. Have a huge impact in the world. Make your life count.

But what if I just don’t have it in me?

What if all the striving for excellence leaves me sad, worn out, depleted? Drained of joy. Am I simply not enough?

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Kathleen Notes: Great article and very thought provoking. Reminds me of this verse of Scripture: "But godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6

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9 Key Benefits We Experience When Our Nervous System Is Regulated
“We know a lot about what happens to a human system when it is sick and unwell. What we know less of, is what happens in a system that is healthy!”
Total brain stop on that one. And she is right. We are so good at pathologizing and looking at what is wrong. Maybe instead we could look at what we want to move towards and then ask the question: what must happen to get there?
So with those words of experience from a women 30+ years into her craft said — here’s a list of what we, as nervous system specialists, know a healthy human system is like when it’s fairly free from anxiety and way more calm.....
.....If you find the bulk of these benefits are not happening for you then there is a good chance your nervous system is living in what we call survival stress chemistry (think: that fight/flight response pumping out adrenaline and cortisol all day long, or, the freeze response being so hardwired that to feel nothing is the norm).
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Kathleen Notes: Most people don`t think in terms of their emotional state being "regulated" or "unregulated." Perhaps if we take the root word "regular" to mean as it should be.....

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Sappy, Sloppy Emotions: What’s the Point?
For every emotion, there is a purpose. Emotions are incredibly useful tools to help us adapt, survive and thrive. People who were emotionally neglected were trained to try to erase, deny, push underground, and in some cases, be ashamed of, this invaluable built-in feedback system. Because they are not listening to their emotions, they are operating at a disadvantage from the rest of us. Pushing away this vital source of information makes you vulnerable and potentially less productive. It also makes it harder to experience life to its fullest.

Emotions do more, though, than drive us to do things. They also feed the human connections that give life the depth and richness that make it worthwhile. It is this depth and richness which I believe provides the best answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” Emotional connections to others help us stave off feelings of emptiness as well as existential angst.

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Kathleen Notes: “Although many of us may think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think.”-Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Neuroscientist and author of My Stroke of Insight

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Do You Have Emotional Integrity?

Here is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of Integrity: The quality of being honest and fair; the state of being complete or whole; incorruptibility; soundness.

What, then, is Emotional Integrity? It’s knowing what you feel and why, and being able and willing to share it with others, even when it’s painful for you.

So general integrity involves being honest with others. Emotional Integrity involves being honest with yourself: facing uncomfortable or painful truths inside yourself so that they don’t harm the people you love. It’s more about your internal choices than your external ones. It’s the opposite of what we think of as denial. It’s the opposite of avoidance.

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Kathleen Notes: I think that often the hardest person to face is yourself...

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Communication Basics

Healthy communication consists of talking and listening. We have to speak clearly and also listen well. Both roles of talking and listening need to be done well for communication to be effective.

This requires the need to fill two distinct roles:

  • The Speaker – What do we want the other person to hear and know?
  • The Listener – What is it the other is trying to share about their experience? 

When working to communicate well, it is best to pick one role and stick to it for time. It can help to separate these roles so that we are not formulating a response when we need to be hearing what is being said. You cannot speak and listen at the same time.

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Kathleen Notes: “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13)

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Verona Area Kids Expo

Verona Area Kids Expo


Saturday, November 3rd 
9am-2pm
Verona Area High School

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Kathleen Notes: Stop by and say hi! In The Moment Child & Family Therapy, LLC will be there with Resurrection Lutheran Church. We`d love to see you!!

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Verona holds third Kids Expo

The Verona Area School District’s third annual Kids Expo presented resources and kid-friendly activities for parents and their pre-kindergarten children Saturday, Nov. 4.

VASD elementary schools, Verona Pre-K and area daycare centers and fitness and enrichment programs set up booths in the Verona Area High School gym with interactive activities for kids and information for parents.

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Kathleen Notes: It was a fun event and a great chance to meet some of the kids and families in the Verona community!

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To Thine Own Self Be Kind: 8 Random Acts of Self-Kindness
Silencing the critical voices within can be a challenge, but it’s one worth taking on—and small acts of kindness toward ourselves can be incredibly transformative. “Self-kindness helps stop the constant flow of negative self-talk, criticism, judgment, and relentless pursuit of perfection that most of us have come to see as normal.

When we treat ourselves with kindness, compassion, and understanding, we feel worthy, nurtured, and secure.  When we provide ourselves with an unconditional environment of safety and security, we free ourselves up to take more risks in service of our potential.”

Simply put, the more gentle and forgiving we are with ourselves, the more likely it is that these positive vibrations will overflow into our interactions with those around us. “When we accept our own imperfections and limitations, we are much more able to have empathy for others’ shortcomings.  This helps us be more accepting and loving in all of our relationships,” says Cohen.

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Kathleen Notes: No one can pour from an empty cup. When you nurture yourself adequately (self-care) you have so much more to give others. Jesus knew when it was tie to pull back and spend time in solitude and prayer.

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7 Habits That May Actually Change the Brain, According to Science
The brain is by far our most precious organ–others are good, too, but they all pale in comparison to the mighty brain. Because the brain works so hard around the clock (even while we’re sleeping), it uses an extraordinary amount of energy, and requires a certain amount of nutritional support to keep it going. It’s high-maintenance, in other words. But there may be misconceptions about what keeps a brain healthy–for instance, there’s little evidence that omega-3 supplements or green smoothies would do anything above and beyond generally good nutrition. So what does science actually tell us can help our brains? Here’s what we know as of now.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: If you knew what to do to give your brain an assist, you`d do it, right? Of course you would!

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Why Hiding Who We Are Hurts Us

The false self develops as an adaptation that protects the individual and makes it possible for the “true self” to go into hiding. Often, the development of the false self is unconscious, and the individual may not be aware that this defense is protecting him (or her) from intolerable feelings. Over time, awareness may develop that the “me” who is acting in the world is “not me.” As these “not me” feelings get stronger, the feelings of being loved, being successful, deserving of recognition, etc., cannot be felt as me, or as the “true self.” It is, after all, “not me” who is loved, admired, or successful. This leaves no room for good self-feelings and frequently results in increased hiding to diminish the risks of being seen and known.

As the individual becomes increasingly aware of the false self adaptation, he (or she) is also aware that he (or she) may not know what will appear when the “true self” begins to emerge. It feels risky to be vulnerable and speak one’s feelings. How the person will be responded to is an unknown. The false self emerged early in development and was successful in protecting the person from intolerable feelings. Now that the false self no longer protects so well, it takes courage to begin to allow the true self to emerge. There are no assurances that the old shaming ways that required the adaptation to a false self won’t be repeated. Jeff’s relating of his early experiences with his parents, his shame, and his negative self-feelings were a brave expression of his “true self.”

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Kathleen Notes: Being your "true" or authentic self is risky, especially if your sense of self is based on the opinions of others. You can`t truly be known (or understood) unless you take that risk.

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Love Love

A person who loves love doesn’t have to worry about being “caught” or overheard. When you act out of love, there’s tremendous peace. If you are “caught” speaking of someone else, it will only bring you closer to the one you are speaking about because you speak only encouragement and blessing.

A person who loves love has tremendous hope. Because you want the best for someone, and because you believe in God, there is never a moment when you “give up” on someone because you would never give up on God. If you want the worst for someone, you are betting against God, hoping that he fails to woo them, win them, and transform them. Pity the person who depends on God failing for them to be satisfied....

.....A person who loves love feels unusually close to God. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16). You feel the favor of God, the fellowship of God, and the joy of God in seeing something good happen to and within someone. You align yourself with God and his aims and all the presence of heaven rejoices with you, increasing your own joy and happiness.

Indeed, one of the very best things about being a Christian is being freed from hate by living a life of love: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” (Eph. 5:1-2)

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Kathleen Notes: The follow up to last week`s lead article. I love a happy ending...

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Joy to the World

“But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people…’” Luke 2:10

Want to know the absolutely best present you could give your spouse or family for Christmas this year?

You won’t find it on the ubiquitous “12 Best Christmas Gifts for Wives” or “Ten Gifts Your Husband Will Really Love” Internet lists that circulate this time of year.

The best gift you can give to each other and your children is a heart filled with Christ-inspired joy.

In a Christmas Day sermon, Martin Luther proclaimed, “Whoever preaches [Christ] rightly, preaches the Gospel of pure joy.”

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Kathleen Notes: My wish for you this year, that the love and joy of Christ would be yours through faith. A Blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones!

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How Radical Acceptance Can Help You This Holiday Season—and Beyond

Radical acceptance is a concept used in dialectical behavior therapy (Linehan, 1993). It involves learning to accept reality as it is in the present moment. This does not mean we agree with or are happy about what is happening, but through acceptance, we avoid the suffering we would otherwise be subjected to.

A major part of our suffering is due to the negative thoughts we have about ourselves, as well as the situations we encounter in our lives. We may beat ourselves up for behaving in a particular way or believe we should not have to put up with frustrating events. We want to feel that we are able to influence what happens in our lives and we get upset when things don’t go our way or are out of our control. We become angry at the unfairness of the cards that life has dealt us, rather than accepting the reality of what is.

A few examples of situations that might trigger suffering or frustration include:

  • Getting stuck in a traffic jam.
  • Having to wait in a long line at the grocery or department store.
  • A flight being delayed or canceled.
  • Finding out your partner had an affair.
  • Being passed up for a promotion you worked hard for.
  • The death of a loved one.
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Kathleen Notes: What is in your control? What is outside of your control? Difficulties are a part of everyone`s life. Change what you can, accept what you must.

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Love Is Good Therapy: The Gift of Being Loved by Your Therapist
People come to psychotherapy because they want to feel better. A big part of a therapist’s ability to help a person feel better lies in their taking a loving stance toward that person. This stance starts with a therapist’s understanding that it takes courage for another person to come to them and their sense of feeling privileged by the trust that person invests in them. The rest of this article describes the other core ways in which therapy involves love and why this matters.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: When a person has a therapeutic counseling relationship it can be the first time that anyone has ever listened and treated them with unconditional positive regard. Powerful stuff....

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Rachael Denhollander Courageously Shows Us a Way Forward

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.

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Kathleen Notes: Healing for sexual assault is complex and difficult. Forgiveness by Faith through Grace. Well done Rachael..

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Mental Health Concerns Not a Focus in Preparing High School Students for College Despite Increased Risks
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.

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I See You, Less-Than-Perfect Kid, and It’s Time We Ease the Pressure on Your Stressed-Out Soul

I have it in me to look over my daughter’s shoulder and make sure she stays on top of her assignments.
I have it in me to make “helpful” suggestions about her work and her athletic performance.
I have it in me to make a big deal over common kid mishaps and mistakes.
I have it in me to expect my daughter to know things she does not yet know.
I have it in me to push her to unreasonable standards.
I have it in me to accept no excuses and power through pain.

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.

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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.

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ilent Tragedy: Every Parent Who Cares About The Future Of His/Her Child Should Read This

Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood, such as:

  • Emotionally available parents
  • Clearly defined limits and guidance
  • Responsibilities
  • Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
  • Movement and outdoors
  • Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom
  • Instead, children are being raised by:

  • Digitally distracted parents
  • Indulgent parents who let kids “rule the world”
  • Sense of entitlement rather than responsibility
  • Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition
  • Sedentary indoor lifestyle
  • Endless stimulation, technological babysitters, instant gratification, and absence of dull moments

Could anyone imagine that it is possible to raise a healthy generation in such an unhealthy environment? Of course not! There are no shortcuts to parenting, and we can’t trick human nature. As we see, the outcomes are devastating. Our children pay for the loss of well-balanced childhood with their emotional well-being.

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Kathleen Notes: We are reaping the results of this in alarming ways. Depression and suicide rates are up exponentially and 1 in 5 children are being seen for mental health problems. The answer isn`t in better drugs or programs, it`s in parenting. You have the power!

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Screen Time Syndrome: Brain Images Explain Why Kids Are Moody, Impulsive & Can’t Pay Attention

“There’s a reason Steve Jobs was a conscientiously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Montessori or Waldorf schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.” (source)

Screen Time, a Digital Drug

We now know that smartphones, iPads, and Xboxes are a form of digital drug. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex – which controls executive functioning, including impulse control – in exactly the same way that cocaine does. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels — the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic – as much as sex.

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Kathleen Notes: Perhaps digital devises should come with a warning label? Parents, grandparents, educators...we need to take this seriously. How do we model the use and limiting of screen time in our own lives? Does a temper tantrum make you back down and give in? A hard topic but one we MUST face.

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Why Self-Regulation Is the Most Important Thing in the World
But no, my practice does not bring me down. I am deeply grateful for my training and my entry into this field. I can’t imagine doing anything else, because I believe increasing humans’ capacity for self-regulation is the most important thing in the world.

That’s a big statement. I don’t make it lightly.

You might be wondering: why self-regulation, of all things? After all, most people don’t even think about self-regulation or how it relates to our individual or collective lives. The topic doesn’t even cross most people’s minds.

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Kathleen Notes: All of us find ways to regulate our emotions, but not always in healthy ways. Paying attention to what is happening is just the first step. Read on...

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Just the two of us: Holding hands can ease pain, sync brainwaves

Reach for the hand of a loved one in pain and not only will your breathing and heart rate synchronize with theirs, your brain wave patterns will couple up too, according to a new study.

The study, by researchers with CU Boulder and University of Haifa and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week, also found that the more empathy a comforting partner feels for a partner in pain, the more their brainwaves fall into sync. And the more those brain waves sync, the more the pain goes away.

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Kathleen Notes: I love this article...excuse me, I`m going to hold my husband`s hand now...

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Child’s Play: How Play Therapy Works

I am frequently confronted with parents’ concerns regarding the effectiveness of play therapy as a form of treatment. They say, “But it’s just play!” Play therapy is not just play. The treatment might be fun for the young patient—yes—but there is a lot that’s being expressed and understood. Play therapy is meaning-full!

Young children communicate through play. Pretend play allows children to assume the control they so rarely experience living in a world run by adults. They are free to express their emotional experience—what it feels like to be them. With access to this internal realm, I, as a play therapist, can help the child discover alternative ways of coping with their worries.

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Kathleen Notes:Play is a child`s natural language. To learn more, consider coming to the open house of our play therapy space(s) following each of the parenting workshops described above. I would love to see you there!

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Parenting Is Not About Raising Well-Behaved Kids

God has not instructed us to disciple our children so we can have well-behaved kids. God wants to do far more than that in your home. God wants to change children, and He wants to change you.

Your home can be one of two places: It can be an endurance marathon with much anger, frustration, and fighting, or it can be a school of character. God wants the latter, not the former.

God wants you to love and appreciate Him to the point where you cannot help but parent with your eye on salvation. The only way that can happen is to first focus on your own salvation.

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Kathleen Notes: Parenting with grace....

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7 Things the Easter Story Teaches Us About Marriage

This time of year, we reflect quite a bit on the Easter story—the story of Christ`s betrayal, His sacrifice, His death, and ultimately, the Resurrection that changed the course of history and mankind`s relationship with our Creator. But what does this have to do with marriage? More than you might think.

If our marriage is meant to reflect the image of God, we have no better example than Christ, the living embodiment of God`s love. In His omniscience, God knew what marriage would take. Through His sacrifice, He showed us that our love for each other and even for Him wasn`t enough. We needed His love. We need Him.

Here are seven things we can learn about marriage from Easter.

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Kathleen Notes: Marriage is a picture of Christ and his church. This article explains it in a marvelous way...

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The Day God Gave Me More Than I Could Handle

I recently read a blog with a sweet little story that ended with a sweet little quote that we’ve probably all heard (and said) hundreds of times.

“God will never give you more than you can handle!”

And while the article was good and it brought a tear to my eye…I couldn’t stop thinking about that overly used, “go-to” Christian phrase.

–– ADVERTISEMENT ––

“God will never give you more than you can handle!”

“God will NEVER give you more than you can handle!”

During some of the toughest times in my life I’ve been told that God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle.

And I hate to break it to you guys. But we’re wrong. We are all getting it SO wrong.

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Kathleen Notes: God constantly gives us more than we can handle...so that we turn to the One who can!!

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Ten Steps to Unconditional Love
We all know that children require unconditional love to thrive. But how many of us feel capable of giving it?  We can`t, quite simply, give something we don`t have inside.  Loving our children always starts with loving ourselves.

So if you didn’t have a perfect childhood, if you`re more cranky than compassionate, should you just give up on being a good parent?  No. Research shows that we can always grow emotionally, to become more loving to ourselves and others. In fact, the fastest path to stretching our hearts is parenting, because our love for our child motivates us to grow. (You sacrifice and work harder for your child than for your own well-being, right?)

It takes work, but the good news is that as our hearts get bigger, we’re not just better parents. We’re happier people.

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Kathleen Notes: Check out the Free Parenting Workshops mentioned above to begin the journey to attuning to yourself and your child.

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Your 12 Step Program to Become a Recovering Perfectionist

"Perfection is the lowest standard any human can have." -- Heather Forbes

Think your child needs a perfect parent?  Think again. In fact, your quest to be perfect gets in the way of loving your child unconditionally, because it stops you from loving yourself unconditionally. How can you be emotionally generous with your child if you`re harsh with yourself?

So let`s just renounce perfection. Aspiring to be perfect doesn`t get you any closer to being perfect; it just makes you less loving. In fact, perfection is the lowest standard a parent can have. We aren`t going for perfect. We`re going for love!

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Kathleen Notes: Make the shift from head to heart. Grace is the cure...

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31 Things I Want My Middle-School Son To Know
...Know that you were designed perfectly, imperfect. You will make mistakes. Do and say dumb things. Have some regrets. But, you will also overcome. Persevere.

And we will be here to guide you, support you, and love you.

I pray someday you look back on these years and see the greatness we see.

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Kathleen Notes: Great list for middle-school daughters as well...

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It’s science: Reading the same books to your child over and over makes them smarter

You might either be intrigued or infuriated, but hear me out. Something really magical is going on that is vital to their future school success.

When you talk to and read to your child every night, you are exposing them to rich vocabulary. How do children learn new words? Through experience and meaningful context. Children`s literature uses language in new and playful ways, and your preschooler is like a sponge sucking it all up.

When children are learning to read in Kindergarten they are learning skills that help them decode and sound out words. However, the words have to make sense. They have to understand the words they are reading in order to comprehend the story, and that is where vocabulary is a very important and often overlooked component to building readers.

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Kathleen Notes: A validating article for those parents and grandparents who have patiently read those stories (you know which ones!) over and over.

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7 Traits of the Most Resilient People
Resilience is the ability to return to the original form after being bent, stretched or compressed. It’s the ability to readily recover from illness, depression or adversity. How would you ever handle it if you lost everything you had today? What would your next step be? How long would you be depressed and upset and angry? What would it take for you to pull yourself up and start all over again? How resilient are you? Could you handle it? Could you learn from all of your disappointments and start all over again? What would it take?

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Kathleen Notes: Resilience is begun in childhood but built over a lifetime. It can always be improved!

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Self-Discipline Season has Begun

I think that most people see self-discipline as far more complicated than it actually is. When you boil it down, self-discipline is actually composed of only two ingredients:

  1. Stopping ourselves from doing things we want to do, but shouldn’t.
  2. Making ourselves do things we don’t want to do, but should.

Notice anything about those two ingredients? That’s right. They’re skills. Skills, and nothing more.

So now you know the secret to self-discipline, and the reason why some people struggle so much more than others. They are not genetically inferior, nor are they weak-willed. They simply did not learn these two skills well enough in childhood, and they must now teach themselves, as adults.

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Kathleen Notes: A life skill, in fact!

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4 Ways a Husband Can Unintentionally Break His Wife’s Heart

Healthy communication is essential to a thriving marriage, but it takes work. Without realizing it, we can be careless with our words and actions and inadvertently hurt our spouse’s feelings. When our feelings are hurt, we are less likely to communicate in a productive and kind way. So we get caught in the negative spiral of assuming the worst of each other, and every discussion becomes a fight.

So, how can we protect ourselves from falling into this marriage trap?

Husbands, here are 4 ways you can unintentionally break your wife’s heart:

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Kathleen Notes: No one can hurt us more than someone we love and have been vulnerable with. It`s important to pay attention to the little things than are really big things..

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Bipolar Depression: Get Your Hopes Up!

Hope guides us through our darkest times. Without it, we stay mired in despair.

Hope allows us to believe that change is possible—that even in the midst of a relapse, you will find your feet again. Hope gives us the strength to get up and try again.

Hope actually has therapeutic value, says Michael Thase, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and director of its Mood and Anxiety Program.

“It’s long been known that when people feel hopeful they have much less risk of suicide and a better response to treatment,” he says.

But what is hope exactly, and how do you find and sustain it?

Nancy Snow, PhD, a professor of philosophy and director of the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing at the University of Oklahoma, has written about hope as a character trait that helps us thrive. Her definition of hope: “the desire to attain a certain end and the belief it is possible to attain it.”

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Kathleen Notes: No matter if you struggle with bipolar disorder or not, hope is a key component to regulating your emotions.

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The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids
Preschool classrooms have become increasingly fraught spaces, with teachers cajoling their charges to finish their “work” before they can go play. And yet, even as preschoolers are learning more pre-academic skills at earlier ages, I’ve heard many teachers say that they seem somehow—is it possible?—less inquisitive and less engaged than the kids of earlier generations. More children today seem to lack the language skills needed to retell a simple story or to use basic connecting words and prepositions. They can’t make a conceptual analogy between, say, the veins on a leaf and the veins in their own hands.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Children learn so much through play...academics can wait...

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Great Expectations
It’s too bad we’re so good at holding others to higher standards than our own. We expect better behavior from spouses, children, siblings, coworkers, friends, and pastors than we expect of ourselves. When they don’t live up to our expectations, we sometimes even call them out.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: The only expectation we need to (try) to live up to is God`s. With His help we can do really good stuff...

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10 Ways to Help Your Kids Honor Their Dad

Write a few words in a card … check.

Eat meals together … check.

Buy him a new shirt … check.

Do your kids run a similar checklist through their heads each time Father’s Day circles round? How about giving them some creative ideas for how they can honor their father?

As far as influencing children about their father, mothers hold an unequaled voice. Proverbs 1:8 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching,” affirming the influential role mothers possess. And Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:2 that we should teach children to “‘Honor your father and mother.’” With Father’s Day coming up, consider suggesting to your kids a few practical ways to display honor to their father.

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Kathleen Notes: Helping your kids to connect with their father pays off for everyone. Fathers play such an important role, just like moms. Guess that`s why God gives us both!

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‘Don’t Think of Pink Elephants!’ – The Secret to Replacing Negative Thinking With Brave Thinking
If only negative thoughts could find their way out as easily as they find their way in, but negative thoughts don’t tend to work that way. In fact, the more we try to push them out, the more they’ll push back. When we slam the door, they’ll hustle through the window. When we run, they’ll chase......
......Here’s how it works. It’s precious real estate up there in the your head, and there’s only so much thinking space our thoughts can occupy. That space can be taken up with negative thoughts or positive thoughts or both. The more negative thoughts there are, the less positive ones there will be. You’ve probably seen way too much evidence of this. The great news is that it also works the other way – the more positive thoughts there are, the less space there is for negative ones to set up camp. This isn’t a passive process though. Our children need to understand that they have a lot of power in controlling which thoughts take up their ‘thinking space’. If they think more positive, strong, brave thoughts, eventually negative thoughts be squeezed out of business. Of course they’ll still have anxious thoughts sometimes, but with more strong, brave thoughts on board, it will be less likely that those anxious thoughts will dig in have more influence over feelings and behaviour than they deserve.
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Kathleen Notes: The more you try not to think about something, the more they invade. The trick is to replace them with not just positive but powerful thoughts. "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" Philippians 4:8

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Write Bad Songs
There was a reason I was a “struggling” songwriter in Nashville.

Writer’s block (and all procrastination) ultimately comes down to one word: FEAR… usually of failure, success, or rejection.

I developed a solution and even if you’re not a writer apply this metaphorically to whatever you are avoiding:

Write Bad Songs.

Weird, yes, but I decided to write bad songs.

I figured there must be a bunch of bad songs in me and I needed to just get them written and out so I could get to the good songs.

Potentially silly logic, but it worked!

I just wrote and didn’t care whether they were good or not.

Guess what?

They weren’t as bad as I thought.   ...more

Kathleen Notes:"Bad songs" are nothing to be afraid of. Often it`s a part of a bigger process of learning and personal growth. Go out and write some!

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How Emotionally Intelligent People Use Negative Emotions to Their Advantage
Emotion theorists believe emotions such as fear, sadness, or frustration serve a functional purpose: they convey certain needs that stimulate corrective action. While some may try to ignore these so-called “negative emotions,” people with high emotional intelligence know all emotions contain important data—and they use that information to their advantage.
Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions. People with high emotional intelligence can effectively integrate their emotions with their thinking to produce desired outcomes. In fact, research has consistently found positive associations between emotional intelligence and workplace performance, making it a highly sought-after competency in corporate America.
Emotionally intelligent people quickly learn to identify negative emotions and use them in adaptive ways to achieve greater success. The following are six noted benefits associated with negative emotions:
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Kathleen Notes: “A relentless focus on positive emotions fails to recognize the fact all emotions can be smart, adaptive, and helpful. As we put on a happy face and ask people ‘how are you?’ in a high-energy pleasant manner, we do not invite honest and open dialogue. We set up a demand that the person we ask the question of provides vapid answers such as ‘great,’ ‘fine,’ or ‘awesome.’ ” Dr. David Caruso of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

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Our Children’s Busyness Is Not A Badge of Honour (And Why We Need To Change It)

In trading away our young children’s down time we’re also seeing significantly lower levels of creativity in young adults. It’s not the organized activities themselves that destroy creativity but the lack of down time. Even two hours per week of unstructured play can boost children’s creativity to above-average levels.

With kids being carted from one activity to the next, the days of kids being kids and playing all day long has been erased from our society’s collective memory. We’ve devalued what children need most and replaced it with excessive adult control.

Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, evaluated results from a questionnaire called the Children’s Nowicki-Stricklund Internal-External Control Scale from the 1960’s through to 2002. She discovered an alarming move away from an internal towards an external locus of control in children of all ages with the trend being even more pronounced in younger children.

Why is this a concern? Because children with a bias towards externality are more likely to focus on goals such as materialism and status, rather than pursuing intrinsic aims which bring true and lasting happiness. They experience a sense of helplessness, decreased self-control, and a predisposition to narcissism, anxiety and depression.

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Kathleen Notes: I`ve seen this trend as a parent, grandparent and counselor. Free play time IS a child`s best work! Let them have some space and time and kids will make up games, create new things and gain introspection. No adult led activity can do that...ever.

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3 New Psychology Research Findings You Should Know About

Lets face it. For us human beings, often the most difficult struggles in our lives come from inside of us.

We are all essentially walking, talking bundles of emotions and issues. We can’t sleep, we’re in conflict, we get obsessed or we suffer from anxiety. We’re angry, sad or grief-stricken. We are in pain.

Fortunately, science comes to the rescue. Psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists are busy giving us answers. What makes us happy? What coping techniques work best? How do our emotions work, and what do we do with them?

Here are three new studies that offer important and helpful information about how we can all live our lives happier and healthier.

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Kathleen Notes: The psychology geek inside of me loves this stuff! For the "non-geeks" out there, this article gives short, concise summary (read 1 paragraph) of 3 studies that point to the importance of emotional awareness and regulation.

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Effective Child Discipline

First, it`s important to understand how your parenting approach may be contributing to the problem, especially in a culture that has made discipline a dirty word. To speak of a parent disciplining a child today evokes images of unreasonable anger and brutal beat­ings. That`s not biblical discipline. Two case studies — one sociolog­ical and the other biblical — show us what appropriate, godly discipline is all about.

Sociologist Reuben Hill conducted a study of thousands of teens and parents in Minnesota. Hill put all of his research on a grid with an x-axis, a y-axis, and four quadrants. The horizontal axis measured how much discipline or control parents exercised in their relationship with their child. The vertical axis measured love. Hill found that different parenting styles produced differ­ent responses among children.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Discipline means to teach, not beat. It`s not about rigid rules but coming alongside the child to guide and direct.....and listen.

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The Importance of a Breakdown

“A breakdown is not merely a random piece of madness or malfunction, it is a very real, albeit very inarticulate, bid for health,” de Botton says. “It is an attempt by one part of our minds to force the other into a process of growth, self-understanding, and self-development, which it has hitherto refused to undertake.”

While medication is sometimes necessary to overcome mental health concerns that arise from a breakdown, such as anxiety and depression, it is also important for you to take a moment to reflect on what your body and mind are trying to say.

“What the breakdown is telling us, above everything else, is that it must no longer be business as usual; that things have to change,” de Botton explains.

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Kathleen Notes: The breakdown (however you define it) is a symptom that tells you to pay attention. In session, I often use the analogy of a broken leg: there`s pain, swelling, dis-colorization, etc. that tells you to take care of it. Mental/emotional problems are the same. God gave us these symptoms to help us know when to get help.

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Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids

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:

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Kathleen Notes: Kids this age have other developmental tasks that should be on the front burner. They aren`t ready for this yet.

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Get those kids outside and let them play, occupational therapist urges
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.

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.

   ...more

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.

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The hurting counselor
...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.

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You Never Marry the Right Person

The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.”

In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?”

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: All of us, me...you....them....are sinners. We are by nature selfish and self-absorbed. We want things to be easy, but a good marriage takes effort and selflessness. If you need a template, look to Jesus for your example.

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Bipolar & Self-Compassion: Learning How to ‘Put On Your Own Mask First’

Flight attendants always tell us when demonstrating how to put on oxygen masks, “Put on your own mask first, before assisting others.” When managing mental illness, and learning how to recover, we go through many phases and trying different coping skills. Being compassionate is a beneficial trait. I’ve learned the greatest, if not most difficult, kindness is to oneself. That means doing the mask thing.

So, no pet sitting for me. It’s the kind thing to do.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Whether or not you struggle with bipolar disorder, it`s always important to "put your own mask on first." You cannot give to others what you don`t have.

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Why Nonjudgment is Part of Mindfulness Practice

But does nonjudgment mean that we never decide that something is wise or unwise, right or wrong, advisable or inadvisable? Of course not. How could we live without ever making decisions? What the instruction in mindfulness practice is asking us to do is the following: During our practice session, when we encounter thoughts, emotions, and sensations arising, notice them without judging them as good or bad or otherwise. Just try to see them as they are. It’s about a pause, a space, a gap, where judgment is suspended.

That pause is key to mindfulness practice. It suggests to us that we can be a witness to what’s going on in our body and mind, without immediately trying to decide whether we like it or not and what we’re going to do about it. And in that pause, we have the opportunity to recognize—and perhaps even begin to embrace the fact—that we don’t know for sure.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Yes! The wonderful part of mindfulness for me (and I try to share with my clients) is that I don`t have to know for sure, because Jesus does! I don`t have to judge either, because I`ve been forgiven.

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Six Reasons Why Wedding Rings Matter More than You Think
My grandmother has been a widow for decades, but early in her marriage, my grandfather cheated on her by having multiple affairs. She’s never fully healed from those wounds. To this day, when she is talking about a man whether he’s a person she knows or a celebrity in the public eye (even pastors), one of her first observations is always either “He’s always wearing his wedding ring.” Or “He doesn’t wear a wedding ring.” She makes assumptions about the man’s integrity and commitment to his wife based on the ring’s presence or absence. While she might be an extreme example, many people will make similar assumptions. We should live to cater to other people’s assumptions, but if the simple act of wearing a ring could prevent misconceptions, then why wouldn’t you wear it?   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Some people just aren`t into jewelry (my husband for one) yet wedding rings demonstrate how important your spouse is(he wears it anyway).

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Move for Your Mood: The Power of Exercise to Help Lift Depression
About 25% of adults in the United States will meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria for at least one clinically depressive episode in their lives. That means it’s almost certain someone you know has or will be affected by depression.

There is no doubt pharmaceuticals can, in many cases, be a valuable tool for treating mental health issues. But not only can medication be expensive, it doesn’t always work for everyone, and it may come with unwanted side effects. Ideally, treatment for mild to moderate depression involves stepping up to that level of care only after trying less invasive alternatives.

One thoroughly researched and potentially successful alternative or complement to traditional treatment of depression is exercise. Adding a regular exercise routine has been shown to potentially decrease a person’s depressive symptoms significantly. Even moderate levels of exercise, like brisk walking for 30 minutes, can improve mood. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for depression.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: The catch is that depression makes moving and exercise very difficult to power through. Yet if that person can power through getting started, the benefits are clear.

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Love and Wealth are Not Enough

What’s the most important ingredient for a happy life?

Philosophers, clergy, psychologists and researchers of all kinds have offered opinions on this question over the last five decades. Some say wealth, some say religion. Still others say family is the most important thing.

But one factor emerges over and over in study after study as a primary ingredient which must be present in childhood to produce a happy, healthy and well-adjusted adult. That factor is emotional attachment, warmth and care. In a word, love.

This factor was recently studied very specifically by Harvard researchers (Vaillant, 2012) who wanted to compare the effects of childhood financial wealth with childhood warmth. By following over 200 men (yes, only men) over an extended period of 70+ years, they were able to identify clear patterns. They saw that childhood financial wealth has little to do with adult success, satisfaction and adjustment. And that parental warmth and care throughout childhood is a much more powerful contributor.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: The power of attachment. Childhood never really goes away, we carry it with us our entire lives.

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Sticking It to Stigma!

The archaic definition of the word stigma is “a scar left by a hot iron” (Merriam-Webster). It was meant to be a mark of shame or discredit. The modern definition of the word stigma means: “a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.” (Merriam-Webster).

While both definitions do define the word stigma, I believe that more times than not the first definition is a by far a better definition of what most of us have felt too often regarding the stigma surrounding mental illness.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes:Next week, October 7-13 is Mental Health Awareness Week. A good time to "Cure Stigma!"

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Stop Taking Away Recess
Your American elementary school kid probably gets about 25 minutes of recess per day. Half of that recess time is structured, meaning the activities are planned by an adult. 97% of teachers say recess improves student performance and was especially important for kids who “tended to behave badly.”
Yet 86% admitted to taking away recess as a consequence for that same behavior. And 7% of schools had no recess at all. This all according to a study by the International Play Equipment Manufacturer’s Association and its Voice of Play initiative, which surveyed 500 randomly selected US teachers....
.....Recess isn’t just a lot of running around and yelling, like it might look to outsiders. There is, instead, a lot of complex play and negotiation going on. Recess is where kids practice social skills and role-play with peers after a day spent being told “no talking,” and “sit still,” and “eye forward, please,” according to Peaceful Playgrounds.
   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Play is a child`s work in so many ways that we can`t easily see or measure until it disappears. Are we ready to start teaching kids the way they need to learn yet!? Children don`t go to school so that teachers and staff can have jobs, it`s the other way around.

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Mindful Parenting for ADHD

ADHD is far more than a disorder of attention. It influences social skills, communication, morning routines, bedtime, technology use, eating habits, homework, and anything requiring coordination, planning, or foresight. In addition, your child’s ADHD affects others around him, especially family members.

In fact, ADHD often creates unproductive patterns in parents’ lives. When parents become overly stressed or overwhelmed, that affects their children. None of us are at our best when tapped out. And because ADHD itself increases family stress, it makes it harder for you to manage your child’s ADHD, which then amplifies stress further. Incorporating mindfulness into your life can break this draining cycle.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Dr. Hollowell (expert in ADHD for kids and adults) calls this the "crazy cycle". Mindfullness keeps us "in the moment". This helps decreases stress and increases the ability to cope for parents and kiddos. Why? It stops/slows down the "crazy cycle."

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Attachment as Defense: How Trauma Shapes the Self
The experience of trauma often shapes our beliefs of self, other, and world. In turn, those beliefs shape our relationships, pervade our families, spread to our communities, and stretch across societies. Our attachment styles and strategies, which can be categorized by individual beliefs about dependency and support in the wake of interpersonal trauma, often correspond to early relational traumas....
.....

They may further impact a wide range of interactions between self and other:

  • The ways we approach mindfulness
  • How we react to stress
  • The manner in which we identify and pursue our goals
  • How we tend to our own basic needs
  • The way we create or withdraw from conflict in any given setting.
   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Secure, avoidant and anxious attachments each have unique responses when trauma is experienced and within relationships. Take a look and see if anything seems familiar.

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Self-Discipline Season has Begun

Almost everyone struggles with some aspect of self-discipline, but never more than during the holidays. After all, from Thanksgiving to mid-January, we see-saw back and forth between over-indulging in treats, and making resolutions to exercise in the New Year.

Then, when we fail to carry it all out as pledged, we kick ourselves when we’re down.

I think that most people see self-discipline as far more complicated than it actually is. When you boil it down, self-discipline is actually composed of only two ingredients:

  1. Stopping ourselves from doing things we want to do, but shouldn’t.
  2. Making ourselves do things we don’t want to do, but should.
Notice anything about those two ingredients? That’s right. They’re skills. Skills, and nothing more.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Since self-discipline is a skill, it can be learned. It also gets easier with practice.

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Reverse Golden Rule: Treat Yourself as You Would Treat Others
“What the heck is wrong with you?
“You are an idiot.”
“How could you make such a stupid mistake?”

 These may sound like nasty, abusive comments that someone might say to his spouse during a major fight.

Actually, they are typical, everyday comments that many people say to themselves on a regular basis. Many of these people would NEVER say anything that hurtful to their spouse or anyone else.  These are thoughtful, caring people who would not want to hurt another person that way, because they feel compassion for others. The problem is that they do not have that same amount of compassion for themselves.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Self talk is very important to a person`s sense of self. Can you speak to yourself the way you would to a friend, with understanding and compassion?

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Relationships 7 Small But Significant Habits That Can Improve Your Relationship

Elaborate romantic gestures and effusive Instagram posts aren’t necessary ingredients for a strong, happy relationship.

Rather, it’s the small, simple habits ? like getting enough sleep and kissing hello and goodbye, for example ? that have a major, positive effect over time.

Below, marriage therapists reveal what you can do to make a big difference in your relationship.

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Kathleen Notes: Life is made up of many little things....

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Why Partnership is the Key to a Healthy Marriage (and what to do if you don’t have one!)

You see, I was steeped in the view (thank you, Bill Gothard) that husbands are to reign as demi-gods in their homes while their wives exist to cater to their every desire. I remember thinking these two people were rather liberal. Maybe they didn’t know how marriage was supposed to be done according to the Bible? Their partnership seemed to work for them, and I was only a kid with limited life experience, so I shrugged it off as an anomaly.

Several decades later, I understand why partnership was the key to their healthy marriage relationship. Partnership brings three important things to the table in a relationship.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: God gave each spouse their role as equals...not better or worse, just different.

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Boundaries, Routines and Early Bedtimes: 13 Habits That Raise Well-Adjusted Kids
I keep seeing posts about “entitled kids” making the rounds lately. In fact, you don’t have to look hard before you see things written about how “lazy” and “narcissistic” and “downright terrible” kids are these days.

As a parent of younger kids, you read these articles and feel paralyzed by overwhelm and fear and mixed messages. What exactly is the right thing to do? Where am I going wrong? Should I give up and start a savings account for my kids’ future therapy sessions?....

......Change starts with one parent and one child at a time. You have a beautiful window of opportunity to build the foundation that your child desperately needs but also craves.

The foundation for things like generosity, responsibility, appreciation, warmth, kindness, helpfulness and hard-work ethic all starts during the early years.

Here’s the hard part.

It starts with us — the parents. Kids cannot even think at the maturity level needed to break a behavior cycle, let alone do anything about it. So, as the parents, it has to start with us. The foundation for well-adjusted kids always starts with us.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Parents: you have tremendous power to help your kiddos to become happy, healthy adults. Don`t be afraid to take charge!

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Explore Anxiety with Mindfulness
Anxiety can range from mild to overwhelming. It can be brought on sporadically by various work or relationship issues or other life experiences. Or it may be a chronic state. You may already have sought assistance from a physician, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional, and you may be taking medications to help manage symptoms. You may have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or social anxiety disorder (SAD). In general, these diagnoses are made when symptoms become excessive, when anxiety arises with little or no provocation, or when anxiety reactions seem exaggerated in relation to the situations that bring them on.
Anyone who struggles with anxiety can reap benefits from mindfulness and the practices offered here, regardless of diagnosis. If you struggle with anxious thoughts, worry, fearful anticipation of the future, or a sense of dread, mindfulness will be useful for you.
   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Mindfulness helps us to stay in the present moment. This in turn enables us to deal only with whatever emotions/events are happening at that time.

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Distress Tolerance and DBT: When You Reach Your Tipping Point, Try TIP

It is my job to push you through your comfort zones so you can grow and transform your life. Sometimes that means asking you to sit with painful emotions, thoughts, and experiences. It is also my job to help you develop the tools to be functional in between sessions. After all, there are many more hours spent outside the therapy room than in it.

It can feel a whole lot easier to sit with pain when there is a trained mental health professional around to help contain the overwhelm, someone to help you practice healthy coping skills so you can regroup and ground yourself. However, your brain keeps working and processing after you leave the therapy room, which means it is likely you will experience reminders, or actual discomfort, in between sessions.

This is one of the reasons I focus on coping skills when I start working with people. I need to know you know what to do during and in between sessions when things start getting uncomfortable.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: TIP is an acronym for a set of distress tolerance skills that anyone can use. Read on to learn more...

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Holiday Parties and Kids: Balancing Needs at Christmas Time
The holidays can be a wonderful time of celebration and fun. But for children, our schedules and parties can quickly become times of over-stimulation and exhaustion. Maybe they are overwhelmed. Maybe they go into overdrive. Maybe the Sweets and Treats catch their stomachs off-guard. How can we help them through family gatherings, making the most of the season for ourselves and for them?...
.....God came to earth to claim us as his children. He has heard our needs and drawn us close. I want to teach my children that the parties are fun, but that hope is found in the reason our families gather together. It is hope that I cling to and hope they will need as they learn. May our holiday parties guide our children to know that are loved and seen and comforted in the midst of a raucous world.
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Kathleen Notes: Let the "gauntlet of fun" begin!! Feel free to back away from all of the busyness...you and your kids will benefit.

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Are you just "soldiering" on... doing what needs to be done?

We have all been there. What you’re currently going through is a phase I call soldiering.

Before I dive into this, I want you to know that soldiering is not something negative.  

There’s strength in keeping that steady momentum in order to get necessary things accomplished and/or help others around you. This oftentimes means sacrificing some of the things you want to be doing or putting yourself second for a period of time.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay because as you’re soldiering on, going with the ebb and flow of life, you know that this stage will not last forever. You know that your strength, your perseverance is what will carry you and others around you to a new chapter. You know that there will be a period of time when all of this will be over.

As you’re soldiering, as hard as this may be at times, I want you to keep these 3 thoughts in your back pocket:

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Kathleen Notes: All people have times in their lives when they are just hanging in there and doing what needs to be done, even if it`s hard. Like all seasons, this too shall pass....

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The Difference of 17 Seconds – a quick way to reduce anxiety
I really didn’t want to admit I was an interrupter. Then I read in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts the that the average person doesn’t go more than seventeen seconds before interrupting the person talking.

Seventeen measly seconds? Really? I certainly wasn’t that bad. . . .

I decided to find out. I started by trying out waiting seventeen seconds during conversations with my husband and my kids, counting silently to seventeen before speaking my thoughts . . . and oh dear. I was shocked at how often I was ready to interrupt during that first seven seconds, let alone seventeen seconds. I discovered that frequently when I think one of my family members is done talking, he or she is actually just taking a breath or needing time to think before answering.

Encouraged by how powerful this pause was in conversations, I began to use seventeen seconds as a waiting time when I saw one of my kids struggle. Resisting the urge to jump in to fix something or give a suggestion, I waited. How could it be that in only seventeen seconds so much could happen?

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Wow...who`d have guessed? I`m going to pay more attention to my own interrupting for sure!!

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Marriage Requires Humility
Humility is so beautiful, isn`t it? And yet so elusive. Because we love ourselves so very much, it`s a struggle to consider others more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

One day I decided to pay attention to all those times I felt "fighting feelings" rising up inside. You know the feeling you get when someone offends you, cuts you off, takes too long, doesn`t say "excuse me" or "thank you," short changes you, or is rude in some other way. I kept track of how many times these feelings flared up inside, and it was eye opening. It is a fight to choose humility, to actually be clothed in humility (1 Peter 5:5). 

This is radically different than what we`ve ever felt like doing. This is radically different from the world`s way of thinking. You`re not going to find any magazines on the newsstands with articles encouraging you to show humility. Instead, we are saturated with messages about power, independence, and control. We are bombarded with advice telling us to listen to our own hearts, to do whatever we feel like doing.

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Kathleen Notes: God first, Spouse 2nd and everyone else 3rd.

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The scary truth about what’s hurting our kids
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.

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Spiritual Abuse is Using the Bible as a Weapon of Control

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

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5 Ways to Fight for Your Integrity While Apart for Work (or Otherwise)
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.

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Having an "I Am Third" Marriage
In a world full of iPhones, iPads, iMacs, and iPods, many are not surprised that human nature—at its core—is basically self-absorbed, self-ish, and self-centered. This is simply a result of the fall from grace that occurred in the Garden of Eden. Children come into this life, literally screaming for attention… arms outstretched toward those who give care and sustenance, only aware of their immediate needs or the distress they are feeling in the moment. They learn at an early age what brings mom and dad running. We have to be taught how to be others-centered, how to live an expanded vison with those around us, how to be tuned in and aware of the needs and concerns of someone else. Servanthood must be consistently demonstrated and modeled....
.....
The concept of servant leadership was first coined by researcher and ethicist, Robert Greenleaf, in the 1970`s and is defined by characteristics such as listening, empathy, healing, awareness, stewardship, and commitment. Do you hear the "otherness" in those words?
   ...more

Kathleen Notes: It`s so unnatural for us to place others above ourselves...even when we do it usually is to meet some need within us. A healthy sense of self allows us to see both ourselves and others in the light of how Jesus sees us: his beloved children.

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Family Grieving: Navigating Loss Together
Grief is a universal experience. We all experience loss, but everyone expresses that grief in their own way. When families grieve together it requires grace and compassion....
....

My mother and daughter shed pools of tears. They held one another and laughed at funny family stories. My sons gave random hugs and showed physical affection especially to my mother and me. I kept myself busy; washing dishes, planning a memorial service, writing a eulogy; busy, busy, busy.

But God was in each person’s coping, and He will guide each beautiful individual to a place of peace. Trust that God is leading each family member on a careful journey designed for each one’s healing. Give some space and time. Don’t fall into the immature trap of thinking that everyone must deal with situations the same way that you do. Romans 12:15-16 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Grief and loss touches us all because we live in a fallen world. God didn`t intend for this to be how we lived, but by Grace made a way for us to get back. He promises to be with us all the way, especially in grief.

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Parenting a Stubborn Child: Learning Patience and Grace

I have a confession: my child can out-stubborn me. He is the prototypical strong-willed child – when he sets his mind to something, nothing is going to change his path. At times, I feel ashamed. After all, I’m a psychologist who works with children. I should have all the answers and all the solutions.

But I don’t have all the answers. There is not an easy solution to dealing with a stubborn child. But I do know that God has the same problem that you and I have. He has a stubborn, strong-willed child or two (or 7 billion). By looking to His examples and instructions, I find that parenting my strong-willed little man becomes easier. There are many examples of how God parents us, but two of God’s traits seem particularly helpful when facing this challenge: grace and patience.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Parents are sinful people trying to raise sinful people in a sinful world...what could go wrong?

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When Is Love Healthy? Attachment, Vulnerability, and Respect
Love is a topic that has never lost human relevance or interest. Poetry, songs, essays, novels, movies, and multitudes of self-help books focus on this marvelous, mysterious topic.

Yet, there are questions that remain for many of us regarding the meaning, nature, and scope of love in the most practical terms.

  • How do we define love within the range of our personal experiences?
  • How do we practice love?
  • How and in what situations are we aware of being loved?
  • How do we show love to others and to ourselves?
  • How do we navigate expressing and giving love without getting deeply hurt?
  • When is love healthy and when is it not?
   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Both hurt and healing often take place within relationships. Attachment and vulnerability need respect and safety to be healthy.

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Why Emotional Growth is Scary: 3 Ways To Defeat Your Fear Of Change

Emotional growth does not come easily to most of us.

Some growth actually happens naturally in response to the passage of time, the development of our brain or challenging life events. But in most cases, we do have to fight for our forward steps.

Truth be told, real emotional growth is quite similar to building physical muscles. First, we must decide to purposely build ourself up, and then we must engage in an activity that’s challenging and uncomfortable for us in order to grow.

There are all kinds of ways in which being challenged or uncomfortable makes us naturally want to pull back and take comfort in the familiar (our old ways), even if it means giving up or going backward.

Part of the discomfort we experience as we grow comes from the fact that the more emotionally strong we get, and the more we begin to feel differently and act differently, the more it can upset the important people in our life. They may react with surprise or resentment when we do or say something unexpected, even if it’s it’s a sign of increased strength and health.

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Kathleen Notes: Emotional growth often means hard, uncomfortable work. The analogy of working your muscles is spot on. When we combine that work with God`s Word we can also build our "faith muscles."

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Self-Differentiation and Why It Matters in Families and Relationships
Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to do when someone we care about is going through a challenging time. You might think the advice I’m about to offer is selfish, but if we consider the science behind it, you might discover that the healthiest plan is to take care of yourself first. That involves self-differentiation....
.....What makes the concept of self-differentiation so important? Bowen’s systems therapy was revolutionary in the field of psychology because it was a pioneer in considering individuals’ symptoms as a byproduct of, and interrelated with, the dynamics and structures of their family. We do not exist in isolation, nor are we immune from the interactions and emotions of the people around us. Instead, our emotions and sense of self are shaped by, and a part of, an emotional system created by the family.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Every person has to eventually become an individual apart from their family of origin. If that process is delayed or doesn`t happen, the result is an unhealthy relationship between the person, family members and others.

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Silent Epidemic: Lack of Assertiveness and Low Self-Esteem
The inability to speak up and ask for want we want often stems from a variety of subconscious fears and/or irrational belief systems. We may be afraid of making others mad or hurt, reluctant to put anyone else out, or terrified of appearing demanding or unreasonable. We tend to hold onto irrational belief systems that tell us we are responsible for the feelings of others. Thus, we avoid making requests that may create any form of discomfort or tension. Sometimes we hold deep-seated attitudes that the needs and wants of others are more important than our own. We ultimately wind up shutting down and remaining silent—in other words, being passive or non-assertive.
The problem with an inability to be assertive is that it often goes hand-in-hand with low self-esteem. When we are unable to be assertive, we may set into motion a vicious cycle where feelings of unworthiness are reinforced, leaving us even less empowered to stand up and take proper care of our needs. When we are unable to be assertive, we send ourselves a subtle yet powerful message that we are not good or worthy enough. It’s a form of self-belittling that becomes a destructive habit over time. The portrayal of weakness, indecisiveness, or inhibition is also conveyed to others, leaving us more vulnerable to being depreciated or taken advantage of.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: A good follow up to the previous article. One of the results of a lack of self-differentiation is feelings of low self worth and a sense that our thoughts and feelings don`t matter. They do.

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How Mindful Fighting Can Change Your Relationship

If you are in any sort of relationship with a human, chances are you’ve had similar disastrous fights spring up out of nowhere. Somehow in the midst of reaching for the person you love, your communications take a hard left turn, veers off course and dumps you both in a ditch… leaving you dazed and confused.

“Let go of the battle. Breathe quietly and let it be. Let your body relax and your heart soften. Open to whatever you experience without fighting.” – Jack Kornfield

What if we could take a deep breath and share our own feelings about their behavior in a heart-centered way? And then listen to their feelings without the need to prove that we are right and they are wrong?

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Kathleen Notes:

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How to Know if You’ve Married the Wrong Person

Recently, in the midst of the still-ongoing dishwasher feud, dozens of text messages deep into an argument about why it is idiotic/wasteful to rinse dishes before loading them into the dishwasher, I realized: Once again, I have married the wrong person.

Or had I?

That’s okay. Here’s what I didn’t understand until recently: We all marry the wrong person. Or, rather, we marry people for reasons that don’t really pan out over the long haul.

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Kathleen Notes: Marriage consists of 2 imperfect people. Successful marriage requires the ability to ask for and give forgiveness.

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Stop Blaming Yourself!

This question is followed by a fresh burst of tears. “I have no idea. There’s no reason for it. I’ve worked so hard, I’ve put everything into climbing the ladder. I so deserve this. Everyone tells me so, my friends, my co-workers and my boss. They’re all so happy for me. But every time I think about going to my new position, I get panicky. I feel it now, give me a minute.” She puts her hands over her eyes and takes a few, deep breaths.

As a psychologist, I know that the roots of Elizabeth’s anxiety are not contained within this situation; the roots are in her childhood. And for her to be able to overcome the panic and function well at work, I’ll need to help her dig them out.....

.......Over and over, again and again, I see intelligent, accomplished people fail to make connections between their childhoods and their current struggles. We human beings do not like the notion that those who raised us had such a profound effect upon who we are as adults. Most of us will acknowledge intellectually that it’s true, but when it comes down to owning it, we resist. Instead, we blame ourselves.

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Kathleen Notes: Making the connection between who we were and who we are is vital to understanding the struggles of today. We don`t live in the past but there is much to learn there.

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6 No-Nos for Relating to Your Woman

When I recently asked Jim to go down memory lane and recall why in the world he gave me an outboard motor for Christmas, he said “I knew you’d love it … often there was no breeze on the lake [that we sailed on].” In his defense, he was right about the breeze … but really, who gives his wife an outboard motor for Christmas?

Then he said, “It was a five-horsepower, air-cooled Eska outboard motor.”

I couldn’t believe that after all these years my hubby remembered what kind of outboard motor it was! Yes, many times men and women just think differently. No wonder the apostle Peter said, “You husbands … live with your wives in an understanding way” (1 Peter 3:7a).

Would you like a little help in understanding your wife? I asked some women to send me a list of their “no-no’s” for husbands—the things a good husband should never do. The following are some of their common answers.

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Kathleen Notes: Husbands, I`m just trying to help...

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Redeeming Your Thoughts

I realized that I had to put a stop to my negative thoughts about my husband. He was not intentionally trying to upset me. He was simply learning a new job and a new routine. Allowed to go unchecked, my negative thoughts and feelings could have created fissures in the foundation of our marriage.

My mind needed to be transformed and renewed. Following encouragement from Scripture to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5), I tried to turn each negative thought into a prayer.

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Kathleen Notes: A short but powerful article.

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How to Create Emotional Word Pictures

"We don`t talk anymore!" shouted my wife, Cindy.

"That`s ridiculous," I said. "We talk all the time!"

"But not about what we need to talk about. What`s important to me. What`s important for us!"

"Then drive with me to my softball game. If it`s that big of a deal, you can talk to me on the way to the game about anything you want."

But Cindy wouldn`t go to that game. Soon after, she wouldn`t go to any of my games.

I was convinced she was just emotional or intentionally not explaining what she meant. She seemed convinced that I simply didn`t care about her or anything she had to say.

That was the level of communication in our first year of marriage. We talked about how we needed to communicate with each other — all the time. But we never connected. Cindy became more and more hurt and lonely. And I grew more and more angry and lonely.

And then the day came when things blew up — but in an amazing way. On that day, Cindy used a powerful communication tool, a word picture, to change my life ... and our marriage.

The story that made the difference....

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Kathleen Notes: I`ve been talking about this article to clients all week. To those who heard, you will agree that I didn`t do the article justice. If you only read one article this week, read this one...

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Apologizing with Intention: 4 Reasons Your Apology Didn’t Work
Recently, I sat in session with a married couple named Dara and Mike. Speaking to one of the issues that brought them to therapy, Dara said, “Every time I tell him I don’t feel like a priority, he tells me it’s not true. Yet, he never spends any time with me.”

Dara began to tear up. I asked her what she felt in that moment. “Lonely,” she responded.

I turned to Mike and asked him, “What is it like for you to hear Dara say this makes her feel lonely?”

He turned to her and said, “I’m sorry you feel that way. That wasn’t my intention.”

Imagine a beautiful song on a record player suddenly coming to a screeching halt. What happened here?

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Kathleen Notes: Everyone wants to be heard and understood, that`s the cause of many arguments. If apologies are needed, you need to know what is going on for that other person for it to be effective.

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Are your children stressed out? Check out play therapy
Basically, the therapist creates a safe and comfortable environment (referred to as a playroom) where the sessions are held. The toys—sand trays with miniature figures, play dough, art materials, construction toys, stuffed animals, dollhouses with miniature furniture, puppets and other indoor games—are selected carefully to encourage clients to express their feelings and release their emotions. Storytelling, music, role play and dance are also incorporated in certain cases. Finally, it’s the relationship that develops between the therapist and client during these sessions that facilitates a corrective emotional experience, which is necessary for healing....
.....

What are the advantages of play therapy?

The advantages are innumerable. Not everyone has the language skills to convey what they are feeling in words, especially if traumatic events are experienced at a young age—they can often lead to temper tantrums, bouts of crying, social withdrawal, rebellious behaviour and aggression, among others. Here’s where play therapy comes in—helping clients, especially kids and teens, to make sense of difficult life experiences, giving them an opportunity to express their feelings in a safe environment. Since toys are the words here, it is especially recommended for children who are very timid and shy, as well as anxious individuals who have difficulty in expressing themselves or have faced physical, emotional or verbal abuse.

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Kathleen Notes: Play Therapy is therapy in a child`s natural language. In The Moment Child and Family Therapy, LLC uses play therapy and has amazing spaces for play therapy at both Verona and Monroe locations.

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How to Make a Marriage

I want to say this again: A good marriage isn’t something you find, it’s something you make.

A relationship, by its very definition, can’t be found; it has to be built. It requires two people getting to know each other, and then every day they have to choose to keep relating to each other or risk drifting apart. Intimacy is created stitch by stitch, through verbal sharing, dedicated praying, acts of love and service, expressions of commitment, and building increased understanding through regular communication and by experiencing life together.

In fact, one study suggests that it takes from nine to 14 years—at least a decade, and sometimes a decade and a half—for two individuals to stop thinking of themselves as individuals and to start thinking of themselves as a couple. That’s right—the journey from “me” to “we” takes years to achieve. That’s due in part to the way our brains are wired. In a very real sense, we shape our brains with our lifestyle; the things we do and the habits we choose create neural pathways that become our new norm. That’s how addictions are built; that’s why habits can be so difficult to break.

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Kathleen Notes: Happily ever after takes time, effort and sacrifice. It takes two people to make a wonderful marriage...one can`t do it alone.

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Making Love Last: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

It is generally the case that couples with thriving, strong relationships have well-developed emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence describes a person’s ability to be aware of, control, and express emotions in a healthy manner. In other words, it is the capacity to handle relationships appropriately and empathetically. In a partnership, emotional intelligence translates into the ability to be in touch with your own emotions as well as those of your partner.

A person’s capacity for empathy and ability to talk about emotions in a healthy and loving way are both components of emotional intelligence. In a partnership or marriage, emotional intelligence may be seen in many areas. It is sustained over the course of a lifetime and is vital for making love last.

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Kathleen Notes: It begins by being curious, gaining insight on yourself and others and then being able to talk about hard things....

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10 Prayers to Pray Over Your Husband

Do you spend time each day praying for your husband? Determining what prayers to pray over your husband can be an eye-opening experience. Years ago, I decided to consistently pray for my husband. While that sounds really mature and wonderful, the choice was a selfish endeavor, though I thought I was being helpful. In my immaturity, I wanted a few things to change in my marriage and so I called on the Lord to change them. Funny how I discovered the one who needed to change was ME! Ever been there?

Through God’s work in my heart, I discovered the importance of praying for my husband and the power of praying for him. Over the years, God has shown me his work in my marriage through prayer time and time again. Prayer is a life-changing, uninterrupted connection to our heavenly Father and oh how he loves to hear his children pray! Check out these 10 prayers to pray over your husband using God’s Word.

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Kathleen Notes: How might daily prayers better connect you with your spouse? What if you prayed together daily?

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The Seven False Beliefs About Relationships
When you grow up receiving consistent direct or indirect messages, no matter how subtle, that you should keep your feelings to yourself (Childhood Emotional Neglect), it is natural to assume that your feelings are burdensome and undesirable to others. But the reality is that feelings and emotions are the glue that binds people together. Sharing feelings or troubles with a friend draws them closer and makes you seem stronger.  Fighting out a conflict with someone you care about, when done right, is the best way to get through to the other side of that conflict. And talking about a problem has been proven to help people feel better.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: This pertains to ALL relationships, not just romantic ones. These beliefs come from and help maintain childhood emotional neglect. The solution is in understanding that God gave you ALL of your emotions and for your good!

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The 10 Rules Emotions Follow That Everyone Should Know

Do you sometimes feel mystified by your own feelings? Of course, you do!

Believe me when I say that everybody does.

It’s not always obvious why you’ve felt sad all day, for example. In fact, you may go through an entire day feeling sad without even realizing it until the evening. Then once you recognize how you’ve been feeling, you may still be confused about the reasons.

An experience like this is not at all unusual. You would be hard-pressed to find a single human being who hasn’t been there. And if you find someone who says he has never had that experience, it’s probably because he is not sufficiently aware of his feelings to realize that he is having them.

It is true that feelings are unbelievably complicated. Yet they are an integral part of our everyday lives. In fact, it’s truly incredible how much we are actually influenced by what we feel, whether we realize it or not. Our feelings drive our decisions and our actions. They cause us to get into conflicts and to work out problems. They help us choose our mates, our careers, and everything else in our lives.

So think of your emotions as a strong current that carries you through your life. The better you understand that current and work with it, the better you can harness its energy and use it, and the easier your life will be.

Although emotions are complex, they do follow certain rules. Once you know the rules you have a huge leg up on managing and using your feelings in a healthy way.

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Kathleen Notes: ...that look when I ask a client if they can "sit" with a particular emotion...."are you kidding?! That`s what I`m here to get rid of." Only when we acknowledge and embrace ALL of our emotions can we make friends with them...

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The Worth of a Woman

Just as tellingly, the admonition to shape this world and even to rule over this world is given to women just as much as it is to men: “God blessed them [the man and the woman] and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28, emphasis added).

Women are not told to sit passively on the sidelines and cheer for their husbands as the men run the show. On the contrary, from the very beginning, women share God’s command for humans to rule, subdue, and manage this earth. They are co-regents.....

.......We don’t have to tear down the Bible or men to lift up women; the story of God’s redemption took millennia to unfold and is even yet unfolding. What matters most is that women understand who they are in Christ, and that their husbands and fathers and sons also let their thinking be shaped by Scripture’s arc.

As much as the above Scriptures challenge me however, I still have to confess that few things have motivated me as a man more than having God reiterate to me that Lisa is his daughter and I’m to treat her accordingly. As a father with three children, including two women, this image shapes, corrects, inspires and challenges my every interaction and thought in marriage. The more I respect my wife in particular, the more I respect other women in general.

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Kathleen Notes: A well written article that brings up something I`ve been noticing more than I would like to lately. For some people there is an attitude that christian women need to endure verbal, emotional and even physical/sexual abuse within their marriages to be "good christian wives." Abuse is sin, period.

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How to Bring Everyday Romance into Your Relationship

When we think of romance, we often think of flowers, expensive dates, fancy restaurants, or weekend getaways. We envision candle-lit dinners setting the mood for an evening away from the busyness of everyday life. These things are lovely, but not always practical or accessible. If romance is limited to these things, we miss significant opportunities to enjoy everyday romance in our relationships.

Romance speaks many languages of love. For instance, my husband looks so sexy when he is helping me with a project. Folding laundry or running the vacuum are romantic gestures that say, “I want to demonstrate how much you matter to me.” I love it when my husband comes home from work and after giving me a kiss and asks, “How can I help?” Sometimes my greatest need was soothing a toddler, or running to the store for the dinner’s missing item, or just listening to my bad day. None of these things may sound romantic, but these gestures of caring fuel the good feelings that we have for our spouse.

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Kathleen Notes: Want some hints? Here`s a few: Become a student of your spouse. Investment in demonstrating love. Share your feelings to build emotional intimacy. Grow your faith together to develop spiritual intimacy.

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Device Addiction Is Killing Face Time

For starters, we must set boundaries. We must protect the face time that we have with the people around us. For example, I knew a man who, anytime he`d witness someone at the dinner table sneak a peek at their phone, would say — to much eye rolling — "the most important people in the whole world to you right now are at this table, please put that phone away." It seems elementary that a phrase like that would even have to be uttered, but these are the times we are in. I love seeing that man`s children — those same eye rollers — now using that phrase themselves to protect family time at their own dinner tables.

Setting boundaries includes intentionally turning off and putting down the phone, tablet, computer, remote and gaming device. Contrary to how we may feel, life will not pass us by if we aren`t able to check Facebook every 20 minutes. For some, deleting social media apps may be helpful. If going cold-turkey for a bit is too harsh, set time limits on your use of these devices and set goals to increase how long you can last without using them.

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Kathleen Notes:

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Being Present with Our Kids

It is a reminder to me of what is actually needed. We often hear from the world around us that we must provide for our children big, BIG things. We feel expected to offer expensive vacations and floods of material goods. We hear from others that we must know the right words, share meaningful wisdom, and know, at all times, what we should be doing. While we all wish to give good gifts, the most important gift for us to offer is our presence. 

Meet the need

Our kids need us, not our stuff. They need us present with them. They need us to notice them, and touch them, and hold them, and hear them. They need us to know about their adventures and about their dreams. They need us to wiggle their loose teeth and to laugh at the dog. They need us to revel in their very being just because they are here. We help our children to see God and that does not happen from a distance.

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Kathleen Notes: Here`s a short list of what our children actually need: clothing, food, shelter and to be seen and heard by someone who loves them and invests in them. That`s the recipe....

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You’re Never Going to Be “Caught Up” at Work. Stop Feeling Guilty About It.

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.

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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.

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Necessary Conversations: The Church, Suicide, and Mental Health

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.

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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

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Ketogenic Diets for Psychiatric Disorders

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?

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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.

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What’s all this talk about kindness?

Kindness builds trust. It creates a safety net for relationships.

Behaving kindly describes who we must be in our relationships. It includes:

     - how we treat each other

     - how we speak to each other

     - how we talk about the other person to others

     - how the other person feels in our relationship

When you are consistently kind and considerate, in time, the other person gains a sense of safety in the relationship.

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Kathleen Notes: This is true in ALL relationships, not just intimate ones. Think about your spouse, children, siblings, co-workers, etc. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

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10 Days of Eating Fat, for My Mental Health
Keto may be getting attention as a weight-loss tool now, but it’s been a huge deal in the medical field for years. Doctors have prescribed the ketogenic diet for epileptic patients since the 1920s, and numerous studies demonstrate it can dramatically reduce seizure activity. And now, a growing body of research suggests the ketogenic diet has potential to treat a wide range of mental-health concerns....
.....Campos notes that aside from epilepsy, more evidentiary support is needed before doctors start prescribing ketogenic diets as psychiatric medicine. Yet while few large-scale studies have been conducted, initial research looks promising. At the beginning of last year, Dr. Chris Palmer, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, published a paper on the topic using two of his schizoaffective patients as case studies. These patients, he wrote, initially went “keto” for weight loss. But both noticed dramatic improvements in their psychological symptoms as well; their symptoms measurably diminished as their respective qualities of life went up (and they lost weight while they were at it).
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Kathleen Notes: Still more research needed before we can know if the keto diet might help with mental health concerns. Thanks to my daughter Alisha, who started the keto diet a 2 weeks ago for treatment of epilepsy. I`ll keep you posted how it goes.

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Overcommitment and Lack of Priorities Are Killing Your Marriage
Let me illustrate that need to keep the various components of our lives in perspective. I read an article in the Los Angeles Times about a man named J. R. Buffington. His goal in life was to produce lemons of record-breaking size from the tree in his backyard. He came up with a formula to do just that. He fertilized the tree with ashes from the fireplace, some rabbit-goat manure, a few rusty nails, and plenty of water. That spring, the scrawny little tree produced two gigantic lemons, one weighing over five pounds. But every other lemon on the tree was shriveled and misshapen. Mr. Buffington is still working on his formula.

Isn`t that the way it is in life? Great investments in a particular endeavor tend to rob others of their potential. I`d rather have a tree covered with juicy lemons than a record-breaking but freakish crop, wouldn`t you? Balance is the word. It is the key to successful living and parenting.
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Kathleen Notes: It`s important to intentionally consider what your most important priorities are. Without deliberate thought, it`s easy to lose your way.

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It’s Time To Quit The Abusive Practice Of Mocking Children’s Emotions

Being a parent is hard work. It is hard to keep several small humans safe and growing, emotionally and physically, while also caring for yourself and an entire household. But you know what else is really freaking hard? Being a child.

Feeling a storm of emotions swirl in your little brain, out of control, and not yet having the ability to manage them.

As adults, it is our job to teach our children these skills. As adults, it is our responsibility to be calm when that storm rolls in, and patiently guide those little souls out of the choppy waters.

Nobody else will raise our children to be emotionally stable, self-secure adults. That falls on us. Nobody else is going to teach our children to navigate those tidal waves of big feelings. That also falls on us.

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Kathleen Notes: Children depend on the adults in their lives to teach them how to manage their emotions. People aren`t born with that knowledge and humiliation doesn`t teach it. Attunement does.

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3 Boundaries You Absolutely Need In Your Marriage
A marriage without healthy boundaries is destined for ruin.

Boundaries are important for two reasons.

  1. They keep bad things out
  2. They keep good things in

When you stood (or will stand, if you’re not yet married) at the altar on your wedding day, you made a covenant that drew a boundary around the two of you. A wall was built that is meant to protect you from attack, and allow you to flourish within. You agreed that some things would be exclusively within your boundaries (exclusivity and privacy of sex, as one example). You also agreed that some things would be exclusively outside of your boundaries (divorce, for one).

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Kathleen Notes: " A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." Proverbs 25:28

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Secret financial escape plan for domestic violence victims

If you`re a domestic violence victim, you may still be living with your abuser for a simple reason: money.

It`s common for abusers to keep victims in the dark about household finances and to limit access to bank accounts, victims` advocates say. Your abuser may force you to stay on a strict budget and account for every penny you spend. If you work, the abuser may make you turn over your paycheck immediately.

"Abusers use finances as way to gain and maintain power and control over their partner," says Amanda Stylianou, associate vice president of quality and program development at Safe Horizon, a domestic violence victims` advocacy agency. "We even see situations where the abuser may be doing things to purposely hurt the victim`s credit, like opening credit cards in her name and running them up."

If you can become more financially independent and establish a credit history while you`re still living with your abuser, that can help give you the confidence and security you need to escape, Stylianou says. But it`s important to do it carefully, without raising flags for your abuser or putting your safety at risk.  

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Kathleen Notes: Domestic violence is all about power and control: physical, psychological, emotional and often, financial.

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`Everyone brings their own baggage`: Couples counseling more effective if done in early signs of trouble

Most often, couples go to therapy two to five years after the start of negative feelings, such as increased conflict, lack of communication or intimacy, and discontentment in the relationship, said Amy Padron, a marriage and family therapist with the Glenview Counseling Group in Illinois. And according to relationship and marriage expert John Gottman, couples wait an average of six unhappy years before hitting the counseling couch. That’s a long time to suffer through discontentment, Padron said.

“This unresolved conflict continues to damage the relationship further,” Padron said. “I encourage couples to seek therapy sooner rather than later, as the relational work in therapy for them is so much easier when there are not years of unresolved hurts and resentments.”

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Kathleen Notes: So many times couples wait until counseling is their last option. Going sooner isn`t as much a sign of trouble as one of health.

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Weathering the Storms of Life as A Couple
Some time back, I watched my daughter play soccer. At one point, two players got so caught up in their individual efforts to dribble the ball that they failed to see that they were teammates! Immediately, a chorus of parents piped up: “YOU’RE ON THE SAME TEAM!” Unfortunately, married couples can make the same error. When stress mounts, and patience drains, we tend to lash out at those closest to us-- which can mean aiming our frustration square at our spouse. But you’re on the same team! Picking fights, lashing out, or taking your pain out on your spouse is like sawing off the tree branch that you’re both sitting on. Remind each other that you are partners, not adversaries. Show extra grace with your spouse, overlooking minor annoyances, and be patient when your husband or wife isn’t at their best. Keep in mind that your spouse isn’t the problem–-it’s that storm blowing around you that is causing you grief.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: If one spouse has a problem, the other one does too. Combine your strengths and check your ego at the door....

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What Happens When a Highly Sensitive Person Grows Up with Emotional Neglect?

If you’re highly sensitive, there’s a good chance that you experience emotions in a very strong way — so much so that your emotions can flood you. That’s because highly sensitive people (HSPs) are born with a nervous system that processes and “feels” things much more deeply than the average person. Most HSPs are aware of their own feelings and the feelings of others, which can be a powerful gift.

But what happens when you grow up in a family that doesn’t value this trait at all?

That could mean:

  • Parents who said you were “overreacting” for having feelings
  • Your parents never expressed their own emotions, and were uncomfortable when you did so
  • Being labeled as different (a “dreamer,” a “crybaby”) because you are sensitive

Sadly, this isn’t uncommon. In fact, a growing body of research suggests that many otherwise healthy families raise their children with emotional neglect — a failure to value or respond to emotions.

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Kathleen Notes: An excellent article to help explain highly sensitive people, childhood emotional neglect and what happens when both are present as we grow up. The good news is that you can recover, often with the help of a trained professional counselor.

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Raising children near their grandparents has scientific benefits (besides the free babysitting!)

There is something incredibly special about the bond between grandparents and grandchildren, and it`s so much deeper than fresh cookies and free babysitting.

It`s not always easy, and it can sometimes make for long road trips, but when we foster a positive relationship with their grandparents, our kids benefit. It`s often said that grandparents are prone to babying the next generation, but all that extra love doesn`t make them soft—it makes them strong.

Here are five reasons why a close bond with one`s grandparents is an amazing gift:

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Kathleen Notes: Grandchildren are truly a blessing and it would appear that being an involved grandparent is too! When a close and loving relationship is formed, everyone benefits.

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The Insidious Connection Between Electronics Use and Childhood Emotional Neglect

Let’s face it, the internet is a marvelous thing. If you aren’t old enough to remember what it was like before we had it, I’m sure you are nevertheless aware of the great advantages the internet has brought to the world.

But, as we all know, the internet has a dark side. In fact, it can become a burden for many families in some very important ways.

Most parents are aware of the risks of child predators and the problems caused by reduced physical activity in children that the internet can cause. But there is one major danger that few parents consider.

The internet is a significant contributor to Childhood Emotional Neglect or CEN.

If left unchecked, the internet can come between you and your children and cause significant problems that the children will take forward into their adult lives.

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Kathleen Notes: Technology can often get in the way of communication and connection between people. For a child that can mean a loss of social and emotional development that will impact them in all aspects of their lives.

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It’s Easier to Raise Entitled Kids—But We All End Up Paying For It

As I buckled that tiny toddler into her carseat, I went on a mom-tirade that would put Tami Taylor to shame. I preached about “saying thank you for one instead of throwing a fit for two” and “do you think that makes me want to do nice things for you” and “I’m still waiting to hear a thank you.” Ask me how well that went.

That freshly-turned-two-year-old cried until we got home. Eventually, she said thank you, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t know what she was saying thank you for.

It was not one of my best parenting moments to date. But I was so hell-bent on not raising an ungrateful child that I saw a “teachable moment” and got a little too enthusiastic.

As a former teacher, I had just seen too much. I was still recovering from the ingratitude and entitlement I had seen in the kids I’d taught and had thus sworn that One day, when I have kids . . .

Then I had kids. Now I see how easy it is to just let entitlement happen. It’s what comes naturally – both to us and to them. Fighting against it is gritty work, while letting it go requires a lot less effort. So we do. We let it go. And we accidentally raise brats.

So here are five ways you might (unwittingly) be raising entitled kids:



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Kathleen Notes: As important as awareness is to solving this problem, it`s not enough. To help kids to handle those big emotions (and they are just as big as ours, make no mistake!) we have to learn how to attune to the feelings. Only then can we help them to learn how to handle their emotions in healthy ways.

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12 Secrets to Teaching Your Child How to Manage Their Emotions
Giving children coping skills for their emotions is one of the most important tasks of parenting. Children lacking these tools may blame others for how they feel or demonstrate how they’re feeling in inappropriate ways. If a child has no words to verbalize their intense emotions, they’re at risk for being emotionally stunted for the rest of their lives. Emotionally arrested adults lack the ability to self-soothe when they’re upset, or to delay lashing out on an impulse.....
.....Be kind to yourself if you don’t make the most of every opportunity to teach your child about emotions. You will have many chances before they grow up and leave the home. If you handled a situation poorly, apologize and then model forgiving yourself. How you handle your emotions will be your child’s most influential guide.
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Kathleen Notes: Parents do the best they can with the tools they have. Learning to attune and validate your own emotions helps you to attune to others (children, spouse, etc.). Children count on their parents to teach them this skill.

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The Enemy of Your Marriage

Take a moment to read it again—as if for the first time, as if newly in love, with wonderment.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” . . .

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:18–25)...

.....It is all stunningly good, beautiful, pure, and right. And they all lived happily ever after. The End.

Oh, that it were so.

Next verse: Now the serpent … (Genesis 3:1).

That phrase jolted me in my reading. So abrupt. So disruptive, falling as it does in the midst of such ecstasy. I ended up parked in this passage for the next several hours, meditating on the progression, contemplating its implications for my own life and marriage.

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Kathleen Notes: Fortunately for us, the Enemy is no match for our God....

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Attention Deficit Disorders Could Stem from Impaired Brain Coordination

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and colleagues have discovered how two brain regions work together to maintain attention, and how discordance between the regions could lead to attention deficit disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression.

People with attention deficits have difficulty focusing and often display compulsive behavior. The new study suggests these symptoms could be due to dysfunction in a gene—ErbB4—that helps different brain regions communicate. The gene is a known risk factor for psychiatric disorders, and is required to maintain healthy neurotransmitter levels in the brain.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: ADHD effects both children and adults. This article details some new research to help explain some of what goes on in the ADHD brain.

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We`re Forgetting About Our Boys & That’s Not Okay
Article after article is about our daughters and how dire it is for us to raise them to be strong, self-sufficient, and capable.
How crucial it is that they are encouraged to use their voice, own and tell their story, and never cower in the face of a man -- one or many....
.....

And when I do come across an essay on raising sons, it’s about how and why we need to raise our boys with particular values for the sake of the females and daughters of the world.

This is something I’m not entirely on board with.

Yes, I’m a happy passenger on the train that drives our children to the destination off being “good” human beings, but I don’t agree with the idea that we should be raising our boys (because in a collective sense, children of the world belong to all of us) a certain way for the benefit of the females of the world.
   ...more

Kathleen Notes: As the mother of 3 daughters, a step daughter and daughter-in-law, plus 2 granddaughters I am very invested in their being able to realize their full potentials in life. But...we don`t elevate women by ignoring or debasing men....said the woman with a step-son, 3 sons-in-law and 4 grandsons.

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9 Ways Childhood Emotional Neglect Makes Your Holidays More Difficult

First of all, I apologize for the picture you see above. Why? Because it is emblematic of the pressure society puts on everyone throughout the holiday season. Commercials, ads, and depictions abound which show warm, happy families or beautiful people smiling with gifts.

Be joyous!

Be merry!

We’re a loving, close family!

The pictures call out to us day after day.

As a specialist in Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), I see how this affects many people. There is no time of year when folks are under this much pressure to feel.

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Kathleen Notes: I think this is often difficult even if CEN isn`t a big player for you. For people with CEN, the difficulty is often knowing what the feeling is and is that feeling OK? Hint...whatever you feel is always OK, in fact it`s God`s way of helping you to navigate life.

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When Childhood Emotional Neglect is Combined With Abuse: 3 Effects on Your Adult Life

In the 1980s, the true impact of abuse on children was finally recognized and defined. And since that time, the progress in understanding child abuse has been both significant and rapid.

But still, until recently, childhood emotional abuse and emotional neglect were combined in the minds of laypeople and mental health professionals alike. In fact, it was almost a catchphrase in research articles, books and professional writings, “Emotional abuse and neglect.”

Finally, since the publication of the first book that described the unique effects of pure Childhood Emotional Neglect (Running On Empty, in 2012), Emotional Neglect is, at last, being seen and defined separately from abuse.

I have spent the last 6 years working to help people understand the differences between neglect and abuse, and to see neglect as a unique entity that can happen on its own, and has separate effects from abuse. But in this article, I am going to take a step in the other direction, so that we can address another very important question.

Emotional abuse and Emotional Neglect have separate effects on the child throughout his or her adult life. So what are the effects on you if you grow up in a household where both emotional abuse and emotional neglect are happening?

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Kathleen Notes: Both abuse and neglect are forms of trauma, combined they are a more complex form of trauma. As a profession, counselors are beginning to finally understand and address this. More education is needed by everyone in all stations of life if we are to be effective.

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Own the Inner Child: Breaking Free of Anxious Attachment

There’s some part in all of us that yearns to belong. This is our safety, our security. It means we can relax, that others are there to hold us, cherish us, praise us, and keep guard when we cannot. It means we matter.

When we’ve experienced a single relational disconnection, we generally recover. When it becomes a pattern—when someone who is “supposed to be there” for us finds ways to disengage or disappear on a daily basis—recovery feels intangible and unattainable. We make decisions about the self, saying, “I’m not wanted. I must be flawed.”

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Kathleen Notes: This is foundational to Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Fortunately, our Heavenly Father is always there for us.

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Stop Making Comparisons
As a parent, I must strive to avoid comparing my kids with one another. Be it extroversion or introversion, gifts of music or sports, or even academic ease with math or writing, I somehow expect each child to be like their siblings. I find myself frustrated with one child simply because they aren’t grasping what was easy for their sibling to grasp. Then I get frustrated at myself for the inappropriate and inexcusable way that I handled the situation as well as the expectations I placed on them....
......Remember who created and gifted your children in his own image. God has given each child love and beauty and characteristics that he ordained for them. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." God has filled each individual with his Spirit to bless his kingdom in the way he orchestrates.    ...more

Kathleen Notes: I have 3 daughters who are each individuals with their own gifts. Equal yet different...how marvelous!

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The Benefits of Being a Patient Person

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.

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.

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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...

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God`s Love Makes a Difference

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!

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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

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Four Ways to Nourish Happiness with Mindful Eating
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.

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How to Build a Habit of Listening to Your Kids

To be listened to is to be validated for who you are.

Sometimes the only thing we need is that one person who will truly listen and hear what we need to say. They don’t need to solve it for us or give advice – we just need to be listened to and accepted in order to access our own ability to problem solve or to accept ourselves.

As parents we can get overwhelmed with ongoing chitter chatter and begin tuning our kids out. This is bound to happen sometimes when you’ve got a talkative child, but it’s worth paying attention to whether we’re getting into a habit of tuning them out. If we get into a habit of shutting out kids’ conversation, we won’t notice when they’re saying something important, or worse yet – after years of not really being listened to they’ll stop coming to us to talk.

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Kathleen Notes: "To be listened to is to be validated for who you are." Powerful.

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Quit Trying So Hard

It feels wrong to start this blog post with advice to “quit trying so hard”. Since the beginning, this blog has been about encouraging couples to fight fiercely for their marriages—to never give up and to never give in. I still believe the latter, but I think it needs clarification.

Why clarify when encouraging couples to fight for their marriages seems so obviously good? Clarity is needed because calling couples to simply “fight more and fight harder” is a crushing command without the right truth fueling the fight.

So many husbands and wives we speak with have fought harder. They have fought more. Many have fought longer than you or I will ever understand. Yet, their marriage is still broken. Their spouses refuse to listen, return, and fight alongside them.

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Kathleen Notes: The battle is the Lord`s. Cling to Him and seek His Word.

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Why It`s Brave to Go at Your Own Pace

When we’re tackling a new goal or challenge, people are often quick to give us advice like, “Just push yourself to do it!” and “Just dive in right away—don’t think!” Though they’re attempting to help, it can sometimes feel like peer pressure—like we’re supposed to radically reinvent ourselves right away, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes us feel. Yes, trying new things is an important practice in self-development, but one person’s quick change is another person’s months-long journey.

What I’ve learned: The key is to step out of your comfort zone because you want to, not because everyone else is doing it. The power is in trusting your gut and your intuition....

....It’s not about waiting for your fear to disappear completely, but knowing when you’re ready to get outside your comfort zone. Real growth comes from making decisions for yourself.

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Kathleen Notes: Respect yourself and your ability to make good decisions for yourself. There`s no problem with asking for opinions but you own the choice, no one else.

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Guidance for Making Difficult Decisions
Anxiety can spiral when we over-focus on the problem. The molehill becomes a mountain and we feel powerless about how to manage it. Our focus on the problem can obscure our view of the solution and undermine the understanding that God is big enough to handle it. Most problems require lots of small steps, so it doesn`t have to be solved all at once. Where we choose to focus matters.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: The anxiety of making decisions come from our human tendency to race ahead in our minds, imagining every worst-case scenario and attaching it to whatever decision is considered. When you realize that Jesus is already there, has promised to make all things work for your good and has already met your greatest need you can go back to the present moment and relax a bit.

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Modern Christianity’s Mental Health Stigma Must End

If the Church wants to be seen as a thought leader within culture, a voice for the least of society, then it must change the way it talks about mental health. The dialogue must change. It must work to break down stigma that’s permeating every sphere within our society.

Believe me—if “having more faith” was the magic bullet to eradicating my anxiety completely, then I would ensure my church attendance was peaking around 100 percent.

We need to find a compassionate and informed way to talk about mental health problems and their prevalence amongst men and women in our community. Coming to the understanding that we can be both faithful and broken at the same time is the first step. Recognizing our humanity amidst our faith feels counter-intuitive, but this is one of the most important steps we need to take if we want to combat mental health stigma.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: I will quote my pastor, Pastor Nathan Strutz of Resurrection when I came to him to start a counseling ministry "What better place for people who are hurting to come than to church?"

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Why Are Kids Impatient, Bored, Friendless, and Entitled?

I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet. Clearly, throughout my time as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in children’s social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.

As we know, the brain is malleable. Through environment, we can make the brain “stronger” or make it “weaker”. I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we unfortunately remold our children’s brains in the wrong direction.

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Kathleen Notes: Children need a variety of experiences to grow in healthy ways. Let them get dirty, try stuff out, take a few risks and solve their own problems (with guidance perhaps). Build neural pathways that are confident, healthy and filled with hope!

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Dads, their boys and the ABCs of emotional intelligence.

Emotional literacy is one of the most remarkable gifts we can give our developing boys [1].

Parents and carers, listen up. The development of emotional literacy and intelligence is not a task we can outsource to a school system, youth group or sports club. This training is our task. Our responsibility. It’s true home-work. An inside job.

As a father of two boys under 10, and someone who works in the space of emotional intelligence, I have to admit it’s a challenge to give this gift – even for me. But it’s worth it.

Here are a few things I’m learning (haven’t arrived). These are my ABCs. Three basic things to remember:

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Kathleen Notes: Fathers, you are your son`s first and most important role model. If you struggle with emotional intelligence, it`s worth learning and developing this skill.

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Battling OCD as a Father

When I became a father in 2003, my focus was solely on my family. Being a young father and husband was rewarding and fulfilling. It felt like this was who I was meant to be. I thought I may have found the secret to controlling the monster inside of my head that loved to attack me. However, it reared its ugly head once again 4 years after the birth of my child. I experienced intrusive thoughts about hurting others or myself and feared losing my mind. The intense anxiety over these thoughts lead me to again seek treatment; this was when I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

I always understood OCD as it is often portrayed in films; I thought it was about hand washing, counting, and neatness. I had no idea that it could manifest itself in such a diabolic way. As the “man of the house,” who is supposed to emanate confidence and strength, OCD is a monster that is tough to fight. Men are taught to be strong and to overcome fear; this is especially the case for fathers who are setting the example for their children.

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Kathleen Notes: Kudos to the author for his vulnerability in discussing such a difficult subject!

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How to Keep Your Smartphone from Hurting Your Relationships

By 2016, 77 percent of U.S. adults owned a smartphone. Although they’re just small rectangular objects in our pockets, smartphones are leading to significant shifts in how we interact with the world.

Sensationalist news headlines tell us that “smartphones have destroyed a generation” and “social media is ripping apart society.” But what does the research say?

Indeed, young people who use electronic devices more tend to experience greater depression and worse mood. And smartphones seem to be particularly problematic for relationships, leading to social interactions that are lower-quality and less empathic. But there are a wide range of ways you can use your smartphone—from taking photos with your friends to envious Facebook stalking—and only some of them are detrimental.

So, how do you keep your smartphone from harming your connection to others? These research-backed strategies can help protect your relationships in a variety of social situations.

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Kathleen Notes: Technology is a tool. When it starts using us, there`s a problem.

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Is Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) Finally Becoming A Household Term?

It was not caused by anything that happened to my clients as children. It was instead a product of what had failed to happen for them as children.

I had finally identified the one shared characteristic in all of these clients’ lives.

Their parents had failed to notice or respond to their feelings enough throughout their childhoods.

This small, every day, widespread, seemingly innocuous failure to act was causing scores of lovely people to struggle with a secret question, wrapped in a thick layer of self-blame and shame:

What is wrong with me?

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Kathleen Notes: This is a topic that I am passionate about. The more we know and acknowledge, the more we can teach and prevent!

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How Labels Help: Tame Reactive Emotions by Naming Them

The recommendation comes from a solid foundation. Research has shown that mere verbal labeling of negative emotions can help people recover control.[i] UCLA’s Matthew Lieberman refers to this as “affect labeling” and his fMRI brain scan research shows that this labeling of emotion appears to decrease activity in the brain’s emotional centers, including the amygdala. This dampening of the emotional brain allows its frontal lobe (reasoning and thinking center) to have greater sway over solving the problem du jour.

And this is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness gives us that moment of space as reactive emotions (like anger) are rising up. If we can see the anger, then we don’t have to be it—we can mindfully notice the body and mind crackling with reactivity, and acknowledge (or “name”) our emotions as we’re having them. Doing so seems to help us disengage from them. We can see them, and then we can begin to choose how to react instead of reacting under the sway of intoxicatingly strong emotions. We can choose to act to open ourselves and connect with others, rather than be carried away in a flood of emotional neurochemicals that wash us over the cliff.

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Kathleen Notes: “Name it to tame it.” say psychiatrist and mindfulness expert Dan Siegel

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Why Teenagers Are Like Cats
I have a 13-year-old son who is currently frustrating me. He used to be my fun little buddy but is now a gangly, reclusive kid with a mustache. I don’t know what to do – or not do — with him. Recently, after a long basketball tournament weekend that brought out all the emotions, I realized my mommy superpowers of healing and consoling were gone. I needed a new game plan if he was going to make it to 14.
So, I decided to ask my therapist for advice. My next appointment with her went like this:   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Read on...The irony of this article is that was shared to me by my own daughter...the "former" teenager now awesome parent in her own right.

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7 Ideas for Engaging With Your Kids This Summer

The rest of the year is filled with other obligations, but the summer belongs to us.

One of my goals this summer is to reacquaint myself with my kids. That may sound silly. I mean, I should know my little family pretty well, right?

But the truth is, we all change. My daughter no longer really plays with toys, and her taste in books and music has evolved. My son, who has always been a huge Mama’s boy, has been seeking his own sort of independence over the past few months. They’re growing. If I don’t frequently reacquaint myself with the little people God is growing them into, I’ll miss out on really knowing my family.

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Kathleen Notes: Summer is a great opportunity to spend time with your kids. They won`t stay young forever, this is the time!

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Forgiving When It`s Not Easy
But, you may be thinking, "What if my spouse does something unforgiveable?" Jesus never said forgiving would be easy. But, He did say that we need to forgive, over and over again. There was no caveat that said to forgive only when the other person deserves it or to forgive if they ask for forgiveness. Matthew 6:15 says, "If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." This is serious business....
.....Now, that doesn`t mean she just swept it under the rug and said, "Thanks for letting me know. Just don`t let it happen again." Forgiveness does not mean "forget-ness." Being forgiven does not mean that your spouse will just forget about whatever it was that required the act of forgiving. Depending on the situation, it may require a time of healing, a time of rebuilding that trust you once had.
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Kathleen Notes: Forgiveness and trust are 2 different things. Trust is built through repentance and changing behavior over time. Forgiveness requires understanding how Christ has forgiven you.

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Five Ways to Help Teens Build a Sense of Self-Worth

2018 study of early adolescents suggests that self-concept (your perception of self) plays a central role in emotional well-being. According to the study, a supportive classroom environment and positive social relationships also affect teen well-being—but the impact is indirect. Positive self-concept seems to be the key variable in the well-being equation. If a student feels good about herself, then she may be more likely to connect with others and benefit from the supports provided at school.

So, how can we influence how students think about themselves? This may feel like a very tall order; yet there is a lot of research out there that provides some clues for supporting the teens in your life. Here are five ways to help tweens and teens move toward a more positive self-concept.

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Kathleen Notes:From early childhood we develop our sense of self. These tips work for teens but also for adults. Take a look.

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I Didn’t Sign Up For This

Sharp`s book is chock-full of practical advice, but I want to share the ‘guidepost’ in chapter 1, “Detours and Unmet Expectations,” as particularly helpful. Sharp identifies three problems with our formation of our expectations during a ‘detour’:

  1. Our expectations are uninformed because they involve the future.
  2. Our expectations are inherently selfish or egocentric in hoped-for outcomes.
  3. Our expectations remain unmet because we have a false perception of who God truly is. Sharp continues on this point with some popular false views of God in relation to meeting our needs:
  • God is a slot machine who gives me what I ask for.
  • God is (only) love, so he should allow only "loving" things to occur.
  • God wants me to be happy.
  • God will not give me more than I can bear (alone).
  • God wants Christians to be happy and joyful (always).
   ...more

Kathleen Notes: When you understand that only God knows and controls the future, you can stay in the present moment much easier.

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The Sneaky Way Negative Self-Talk Can Feel Productive

Self-criticism has a sneaky superpower: It can often disguise itself as self-reflection.

When we come up short on something—say, that presentation at work, that friend we keep ghosting, or that promise we didn’t come through on—we can easily start blaming ourselves, replaying our mistake and upping our anxiety with each revisit. The worst part: We often feel like it’s a productive way to learn from the experience. In reality, though, we’re just tangoing with negative self-talk.

So, how do we truly have a moment of self-awareness? We cut the blame. At it’s best, self-awareness is a judgment-free zone. It comes from a place of curiosity, not shame. And it’s a pretty important skill to master if we want to live a fulfilling life.

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Kathleen Notes: Negative self-talk has a purpose...but often not a productive one. Check out this article to gain some insight about this....

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How Your Phone Is Changing Your Brain

Just as a person can become addicted to sugar, alcohol, drugs, or numerous other substances or behaviors, people can easily become addicted to technology.

The Reward Feedback Loop

Dopamine motivates us to seek out new information and pleasurable experiences. In nature this is an important function. Seeking food, water, shelter, companionship, and other necessities of life keeps us alive.

In fact, the anticipation of a reward is more motivating than the reward itself. A study found that destroying the dopamine in rats’ brains (the part that motivated them to seek) caused the rats to starve to death within inches of food....

......Unlike with food though, there is no physical feeling of being “full” from technology. If we’re full from a meal, we aren’t as motivated to seek food (though we will when we feel hungry again). With technology the satisfaction is less satisfying and the desire to seek becomes stronger.

   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Technology is a tool...it`s good to have one, not good when it has you....

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When Our Kids Get it Wrong – Why Criticism Won’t Work, And What to Do Instead
One of the things that makes parenting so tough is that we don’t always see the effects of what we do straight away. Sometimes, getting it right can look the same as getting it wrong, and other times they can masquerade as each other. Are our boundaries too loose? Too tight? Do our words nurture their growth? Make them question their worth? Is this a time for consequences? Connection? How do I have both? ......
.......Our words are powerful. They can light our children up from the inside out or they can land on their shoulders like little spears. When criticism happens too often, those little spears will find their way deep into the core of them. They’ll do damage and they’ll leave scars. This is regardless of how that criticism is wrapped up – whether as discipline, frustration, teaching a lesson, or otherwise. New research explains why.
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Kathleen Notes: With every interaction parents are either drawing their children closer or pushing them away....no one is ever motivated by criticism.

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The Value of Hope—and Hopelessness

Many people experience a sense of hopelessness at times. While it is important to seek professional help if stuck in hopelessness for too long, not all aspects of hopelessness are bad. When we sit with hopelessness for a while, we may begin to see new possibilities emerge. The message embedded in hopelessness, in this case, may be to take some time to reflect on one’s life context or situation. Often, this is best done with a trusted therapist.

As a therapist, I have walked with many people from a place of hopelessness to a place of hope. While it is tempting to try to take shortcuts to get out of pain more quickly, this often produces a false and short-lived hope that does not empower change. It can be valuable to take some time to find a sustaining hope. At times, hope begins to emerge through trusting in someone. Having walked with many people through dark times to places of growth, experienced therapists tend to develop a strong faith that therapy can provide healing. This faith in the healing power of therapy can vicariously provide hope for people in therapy until they can find their own hope. This illustrates another reason it is important to find a therapist whom you trust.

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Kathleen Notes: As a christian counselor, I have the privilege of pointing out that no situation is beyond God`s ability to repair. " Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

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A Daily Mindful Walking Practice

Before you begin your meditation, find a quiet space to walk. It could be outdoors, or in a hallway, or even a large room, walking back and forth.

Walking meditation can be a formal practice, like watching the breath. Or it can be informal, bringing awareness to this everyday activity, whenever you need to travel from point A to point B. Walking meditation gives us an opportunity to gather our awareness which so often becomes distracted or even stuck when the mind is left to its own devices. Whether moving between floors of a building, on a city street, or in the woods, it is an opportunity to guide ourselves out of the distracted autopilot we live in throughout so much of our day.

Paying attention in this way, we stay safe by remaining fully aware of whatever is around. On any walk, hike, run, or other physical activity, without effort we may mentally check out—or we can practice awareness instead.

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Kathleen Notes: What a great way to practice mindfulness! It fits in nicely with everyday activities, making mindfulness more "user friendly." In addition, check out the 10 minute podcast included in this article.

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Does a Good God Want Me in a Bad Marriage?

A friend of mine finally walked out on her husband. She was tired of his excuses and irresponsibility. She was finished with his criticisms and cutting remarks. In her mind, enough was enough, and it was time to end the marriage.

Yet as she described their relationship, I couldn’t help but think that this marriage didn’t need to end in divorce. There was no unrepentant adultery, abandonment, or repeated physical abuse. They were simply struggling with what most marriages deal with: miscommunication, financial disagreements, selfish attitudes—the things often excused as “irreconcilable differences.”

When I later talked with her, I asked if she knew that God said, “I hate divorce …” (Malachi 2:16). Or that Jesus specifically addressed divorce in Matthew 19:8-9 saying, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

My friend said she heard this before and added, “But I cannot believe that a good God wants me to suffer in a bad marriage. He wants me to be happy.”

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Kathleen Notes: From the author: "her intent is to address unhappy marriages in which there is no unrepentant adultery, abandonment, or repeated physical abuse......However, if you are married and are suffering from physical abuse, this article is not for you. You need help. "

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Coping as a Single Parent: Four ways God Showed He Would Not Leave

The breakdown of the marriage found me unprepared spiritually, emotionally, and mentally for the sudden rigors of parenting on my own. No one—not relatives, friends, coworkers, my boss—seemed to “get” what I faced. Adding loads of material issues to the isolation--financial problems, car troubles, home repairs, and too much to do in the day-to-day with no time to do it--I felt stone-cold alone.

It was in this crucible that God finally got my attention and showed me the one person to whom I needed to turn: His Son Jesus Christ. Looking back now on that season as a single parent I see four ways God provided for me in my isolation and loneliness:

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Kathleen Notes: God often uses the hard things in life to get our attention to the real need.

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Healthier Food, Healthier Mood—Conquering Temptation

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.”

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Kathleen Notes: It appears that you really ARE what you eat!

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Why this marriage therapist says a `good enough` relationship is one that lasts a lifetime

What couples in a “good enough” relationship do:

  • They don’t settle for less: Couples in a “good enough” relationship settle for nothing less than being treated with honesty, respect, and affection. They also don’t have unrealistic expectations and manage conflict responsibly.
  • They understand that falling in love is only the first phase: The next and most important step is building trust and commitment together.
  • They are friends: With trust and commitment come friendship and intimacy, essentially ingredients for the ‘good enough’ relationship that lasts a lifetime.
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Kathleen Notes: Good enough sounds pretty good....

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The secret of keeping our cup full is learning to parent ourselves.
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.

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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...

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Bickering in the Backseat: How to Cope on the Way to School
It’s finally the first day of school. Your children are so excited, they took forever to fall asleep last night. They struggled this morning over what to wear. They barely picked at that healthy breakfast you got up early to make for them. Their excitement is tinged with nervousness, naturally. And who better to take it out on than their brother or sister, sitting next to them in the back seat?

Mason: “I wonder what Mrs. Jones will be like. Is she strict?”

Savannah: “She’s mean. All the kids say so.”

Mason: “Oh, no! I hope she’ll like me.”

Savannah: “She won’t. Nobody likes you.”.......

............Mason: “You meany!” (Shoves at Savannah)

Savannah: “Mooommmmm! He hit me!”

Mom (Yelling): “Okay, that’s it! No ipad later for either of you. And no more talking! If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all!”

Before you know it, you’re yelling. By the time they get out of the car, the kids are sullen. Your plans for a peaceful start to the day just evaporated before your eyes. Backseat bickering can completely ruin your morning. 


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Kathleen Notes: Yeah...just about that time, isn`t it? But as the parent, you can change this dynamic...read on.

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5 Steps To Break Down Your Wall

What does Empty feel like? What causes some people to feel it? In last week’s article, Not Sad Not Hurt Not Angry: Empty, we talked about how the Empty feeling is a result of having a wall inside of you which essentially blocks your emotions away.

Having a wall like this is functional in some ways. It can get you through your childhood by allowing you to cope with a family who is emotionally unavailable, ignoring, rejecting, devoid of love, or even abusive. But when you grow up and are living as an adult, you need to have access to your emotions.

When your emotions are walled off, you pay a heavy price.  You pay the price of deep, meaningful, supportive relationships, a feeling of purpose and direction in your life, and a strong sense of self-worth and confidence.

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Kathleen Notes: Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) is more common than we`d like to know. "The fuel of life is feeling. If we are not filled up in childhood, we must fill ourselves as adults. Otherwise we will find ourselves running on empty." Dr. Jonice Webb

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Why Kids Need Routines

Why do kids need routines?

Because routines give them a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline.

Humans are afraid of many things, but "the unknown" edges out everything except death and public speaking for most people.

Children’s fear of the unknown includes everything from a suspicious new vegetable to a major change in their life. Unfortunately, children are confronted with change daily, which is a growth opportunity, but also stressful.....

.....Kids who come from chaotic homes where belongings aren’t put away never learn that life can run more smoothly if things are organized a little. In homes where there is no set time or space to do homework, kids never learn how to sit themselves down to accomplish an unpleasant task. Kids who don’t develop basic self-care routines, from grooming to food, may find it hard to take care of themselves as young adults. Structure allows us to internalize constructive habits.

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Kathleen Notes: I would suggest that parents benefit from routines, too.

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A Calm in the Storm, Part I: Decreasing Emotional Reactivity

It is the union and balance of these two sides—sympathetic and parasympathetic—that brings peace. On our “good” days, there’s a rhythm to this. Breathe in, breathe out. For many, sometimes biologically predisposed and especially in trauma, the rhythm breaks, leaving them with bodily systems more prone to one side or the other: on alert (sympathetic) or frozen (parasympathetic)........

.......Our unbalanced states provide unreliable witness. We cannot trust our own perceptions, intuition, or expectations of self, other, or world. When activated, we revert to internal models, defaults, obsolete (non-present) information. This is the brain: looping, telling stories, repeating old information. Present information comes through our senses, our bodies.

As much as we believe that the brain will save us, in this uncomfortable world, no amount of analysis, planning, or rumination will change our experience of life. We cannot think our way out of this story. The thoughts themselves, more prone to negativity, are working against us.

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Kathleen Notes: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van de Kolk is a wonderful reference to learn more. Emotional regulation skills are vital to decreasing the reactivity the author writes about.

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Relinquishing Control of Adult Children
In his book Little Lamb Who Made Thee? A Book About Children and Parents, Walter Wangerin, Jr. points out that believers pray about their children no matter the age of the child, but the nature of such prayers change depending on the child`s stage of life. When children are young, along with praying for our children, we are doing things to protect them, help them, and prepare them for the future. The time comes, though, when we must let go, for continuing to manage their lives will harm them more than it will help them. Our prayer for them, then, becomes a prayer of letting go. Learn, then, to pray the prayer of relinquishment for your adult child.
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Kathleen Notes: My mother used to say :"First we teach our children to walk, then we teach them to walk away." The goal is to work yourself out of a job.

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Why Afternoon Naps Are A Sign Of Health, Not Laziness

If you’re like most people, you probably find it harder and harder to get through your days without indulging in a short nap. Perhaps you like to take them in the afternoon, or whenever you find the time in between your busy schedule. No matter when you nap, it probably seems like the naps choose you rather than you choosing them.

You might actually feel guilty for needing so much sleep. You probably even call yourself lazy for taking time to rest throughout the day. Perhaps you’ve thought about exercising or changing your diet to try to improve your activity levels. But the truth is that you shouldn’t feel guilty about these naps at all....

.....If you do research on why naps are so essential to our lives, you’ll find a lot of information. Even The National Sleep Foundation recommends that we take 20 to 30-minute naps during the day in order to improve our alertness and reach our peak performance.

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Kathleen Notes: Finally! Validation for one of my favorite indulgences. I`ve always felt like naps were highly civilized...

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Practical solutions for real parenting problems When Your Child Is Hellbent on Misbehaving: Time to Invite a Meltdown?
Sometimes we all just need a good cry. And kids, with their immature frontal cortex, need to cry more often than adults, to heal all those feelings that are making them act out. But that`s only healing if they have a compassionate witness -- the safe haven of a parent. Leaving your child to cry alone just traumatizes her, and gives her the message that she`s all alone with those scary feelings, just when she needs us most.

So when a child is acting out, remember that she`s "acting out" feelings she can`t express verbally.  That`s a signal that she has a full emotional backpack that needs emptying.  She just needs you to connect with her to help her feel safe enough. ...

.....When your child is making you or others miserable, it`s a red flag that he`s miserable inside and needs your help with his big feelings. That`s your cue to step in. He`s signaling that he needs you to hold him emotionally, and maybe literally. And he`ll keep acting out until you help him.

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Kathleen Notes: THIS is how to avoid Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN).

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8 Ways A Child’s Anxiety Shows Up as Something Else
Your child might ask repetitive questions for reassurance and no matter how many times you answer, the question repeats. You might have the perfect child at school that comes home and constantly picks fights with you or siblings. You may have a child that can’t focus, motivate, or even loses sleep at night. Or maybe your child is downright angry. Anxiety, in fact, can manifest in a multitude of forms....
....Anxiety and sleep problems have a chicken and egg connection. Research has shown that anxiety can lead to sleep disorders and chronic sleep disruption can lead to anxiety. In children, having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is one of the hallmark characteristics of anxiety....
....Anger and anxiety are also both activated in the threat center of your brain. When the brain perceives a threat, the amygdala (a small, almond-shaped cluster of neurons in the brain) activates the flight-or-fight response which floods your body with hormones to make you stronger and faster. This genetic wisdom protects us from threats and danger. Because anger and anxiety are both activated from the same brain region and have similar physiological patterns (rapid breathing, heart racing, pupils dilating etc.), it’s possible that when your child feels like there is a threat (e.g. going to a party), the fight or anger response is activated as a form of protection. 

Finally, one of the markers of generalized anxiety is “irritability” which is also part of the anger family.

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Kathleen Notes: Just a sample of a really informative article...anxiety often looks like something completely different for children...and adults.

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Don’t Be a Peg
This isn’t a gender thing, by any means. Men can also be “Pegs.” We’ll call these men “Regs.” One wife told me that the biggest deterrent from her having enthusiastic sex with her husband was his constant criticism. In her husband’s opinion, she didn’t cook correctly; she didn’t clean correctly; she didn’t drive the right way, raise the kids with enough discernment or even chew her food in the correct manner.....
.......In my book Cherish I stress how it’s never our job to judge our spouse. Our job is to cherish our spouse and to encourage our spouse. Constant disappointment, whether it’s expressed through verbal jabs or a nonverbal rolling of the eyes, or worse, expressed contempt in front of others (“Let me tell you what I have to live with…”), rarely achieves the desired aim. Far more likely than getting people to feel sorry for you, it’s probably going to make them feel sorry for your spouse. It’s a losing strategy, but some spouses keep trying it for years. Everyone knows a spouse’s “job description” is to honor, love, respect and cherish. It’s what we promised to do and what God calls us to do. Even more, our job as Christians is to encourage: “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
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Kathleen Notes: No one is ever motivated by criticism.....

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What Is Your Therapist Listening For?
Advice is cheap.

Advice puts the onus on the listener and not the speaker.

Advice is often a quick fix—a mere Band-Aid on a wound that needs more persistent care.

I can usually detect someone’s frustration when, as their therapist, I pointedly do not offer advice. One of the skills therapists learn early in their training is one of the hardest, for both the therapist and the person in therapy: sitting in silence. But drawing out more information from people is a psychotherapist’s most useful tool. After all, your therapist is a trained listener, not advice-giver.

That does not mean your therapist is merely looking at you and listening while you talk. Any skilled therapist will be listening acutely for specific signals, which they then use to guide the direction of the conversation over time.

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Kathleen Notes: In my opinion (backed up by lots of research!) is that the power of therapy lies in the therapeutic relationship. For many people, counseling is one of the few times in their lives when someone has truly listened and accepted them unconditionally.

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Emotional Connection: The Secret to Lasting Love

Many couples come in for counseling because they have become emotionally disconnected. This doesn’t just happen; it’s typically a gradual process. For many couples, it may take years before they recognize that they have become emotionally disconnected.

Many reasons exist for emotional disconnection. Attachment theory sheds light on how some couples may disconnect. It teaches us that our loved one should be a source of comfort, security, and refuge. When our partner becomes emotionally disconnected or unresponsive, we can be left feeling lonely, sad, hurt, and even helpless.

When we feel emotionally disconnected, our sense of security can feel like it is in jeopardy, causing us to feel fearful. The amygdala, the almond-shaped region in our midbrain, acts as a built-in alarm system. It triggers an automatic response when a threat occurs. When we feel disconnected, alone, and afraid, it can feel threatening. The amygdala responds and a sense of panic can set in.

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Kathleen Notes: Feelings of being emotionally disconnected is what is underneath many arguments that couples have.

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Scientists Have Mapped Where People Feel Emotions in Their Bodies
Feelings are a funny thing. Love and heartache both happen inside your head, but they`re felt in very different places. On the flipside, excitement and fear are two very different emotions, but they feel nearly identical. To make things even more complicated, feelings are subjective — it`s hard to know if other people feel things the same way you do. That`s why this new study from a team of Finnish researchers is so fascinating: They`ve mapped emotions to where most people feel them in their own bodies. It turns out that most of us feel our emotions in similar places.....
.....Some of the locations were unsurprising: hunger was felt in the stomach, thirst in the throat, reasoning and recollection in the head. But others were more surprising, even if they made sense intuitively. The positive emotions of gratefulness and togetherness and the negative emotions of guilt and despair all looked remarkably similar, with feelings mapped primarily in the heart, followed by the head and stomach. Mania and exhaustion, another two opposing emotions, were both felt all over the body. "Self-regulation," which you might not expect to be associated with a sensation, was felt in the head and hands — perhaps because controlling your impulses often comes down to controlling what your hands do.
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Kathleen Notes: Compelling evidence of the mind-body connection and how we experience our emotions in our bodies. Awesome stuff for brain geeks like me....

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Two Lessons on Blame from Brené Brown
Blame releases discomfort and pain: We often try to fault others for our mistakes because it makes us feel like we’re still in control. “I’d rather it be my fault than no one’s fault,” says Brown. But leaning into the discomfort of mistakes is how we can learn from them. “Here’s what we know from the research,” says Brown, “blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain. It has an inverse relationship with accountability. Blaming is a way that we discharge anger.”
Blame is faster than accountability: Accountability is a vulnerable process that takes courage and time. “It means me calling you and saying, hey my feelings were really hurt about this, and talking,” says Brown. People who blame a lot seldom have the tenacity and grit needed to hold people accountable. “Blamers spend all of our energy raging for 15 seconds and figuring out whose fault something is,” adds Brown. It’s difficult to maintain relationships when you’re a blamer, because when something goes wrong, we’re too busy making connections as quickly as we can about whose fault it is, instead of slowing down, listening, and leaving enough space for empathy to arise.
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Kathleen Notes: My clients know how I like all things Brene Brown. This article comes with a bonus, check it out.

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5 Mindful Tips for Navigating Holiday Stress

It is officially the holiday season! During this time of year there can be so much pressure that unfortunately the joy, magic, and meaning of the season is lost, often replaced by stress. Especially now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it is hard to ignore the almost instantaneous rush of frenetic energy that ensues as we near the close of the calendar year.

It is more than possible though to not only survive the holiday season, but to even thrive and connect to your particular observance in a deeper and more profound way. Here are some common stressors that pop up this time this year, and mindful antidotes to help you through the discomfort.

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Kathleen Notes: Many things can cause stress this time of the year. Check out this article for ideas to better manage it.

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Why Vulnerability is Your Superpower
When in truth, they’re the exact same thing, like caring what everyone thinks and not carrying what anyone thinks are both super problematic. I mean when you care about what everyone thinks, you lose the willingness to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there. When you stop caring about what anyone thinks at all, you lose your capacity for connection because we’re hardwired neurobiologically to care about what people think. Our job becomes to get specific on whose opinions matter and find the people who love you, not despite your vulnerability, not despite your imperfection, but because of it.

Find the people who will say, “You know what, you’re right, the way you showed up and that meeting sucked, it was inappropriate, out of your integrity, you got to clean it up and I’ll be here supporting you while you do that and I’ll be supporting you again when you’re brave again, but right now …” Not yes people, but real people whose opinions of you matter and carry it with you, so when you’re trying to hack into the back end of Amazon to see who left a shitty comment about your book, you think to yourself, “You know what, you’re not on my list, think what you want, I’ve got my list of people whose opinions matter.”
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Kathleen Notes: ....love this...

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Most people are bad at arguing. These 2 techniques will make you better.

Anyone who has argued with an opinionated relative or friend about immigration or gun control knows it is often impossible to sway someone with strong views.

That’s in part because our brains work hard to ensure the integrity of our worldview: We seek out information to confirm what we already know, and are dismissive or avoidant of facts that are hostile to our core beliefs.

But it’s not impossible to make your argument stick. And there’s been some good scientific work on this. Here are two strategies that, based on the evidence, seem promising.

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Kathleen Notes: Part of being effective in getting your point across is realizing that the other person has an equally valid opinion and showing your respect for them. Only then can you make your facts relevant.

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The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

We honeymooned in Mexico at an all-inclusive resort that some would call a perfect vacation destination. We giggled as the electronically piped-in sounds of “nature” accompanied us along resort trails and decided over a game of 500 Rummy that we’d stick to freshwater lakes and mosquitoes. We returned to the US and settled into our first home in the Northwoods of Michigan.

That winter, we found out who we’d actually married.

I, the neat freak, germ phobic, private, independent woman did not exactly mesh with you, the relaxed, messy, forgetful boy whose mama cooked and laundered and cleaned up after him until the day we married.

Are you going to help me fold these towels?

You had been under the impression that a wife was a maid, and marriage a lifelong sex-fest.

I had been under the impression that a husband was someone who unclogged drains, and marriage meant someone else would help pay the bills for the clothes I wanted to buy and trips I wanted to take.

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Kathleen Notes: Great article about expectations in marriage and how to find the realistic ones.

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Establishing Your Family’s Own Christmas Traditions

The thought expressed by the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is as likely to give someone a knot in the stomach as a longing in the heart. The issue of how to handle family expectations for holiday gatherings probably came up early in your marriage, if not before. Where and how you celebrate may cause culture shock.

Barbara and I had to deal with this because both families have wonderful holiday traditions. We adopted a common solution; one year we celebrated Christmas with Barbara’s family, then went later to my folks. Next year, the schedule reversed.

But during my first Christmas visit to Barbara’s family, I was shocked that they did not open presents in the “correct” way! To me, the orthodox approach was for one person at a time to open a gift. Everyone focused on the person receiving the present and smiled when the gift was opened; the recipient dutifully looked surprised and pleased, and then came the next person’s turn. At Barbara’s house, they distributed all the presents, and then chaos erupted. The race was on to see who could open presents first. I thought, This isn’t right!

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Kathleen Notes: When you marry, you form a completely new family. While loving and honoring the families that you both came from, it`s time to focus on your own family. The adjustment can be tough at first, but necessary and worth it!

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How Self-Care Can Turn a Good Marriage to a Great One

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, offers an enriching life that He wants you to experience: "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10, emphasis added). An abundant life isn`t a bonus: It`s an essential part of the Christian life.

If we as Christians are neglecting ourselves, it`s like driving a car but never doing repairs on the vehicle. Cars need regular maintenance. Similarly, God designed people to need care emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Many of us don`t understand how to care for ourselves. Instead we cling to behaviors and patterns that wear us down.

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Kathleen Notes: As always, you cannot give what you don`t have. Self-care is vital in relationships of all kinds.

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Bipolar & Living: 4 Ways to Simplify Your Life

4 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Taking steps to organize your living space and your life will help unclutter your mind and reduce the disharmony in your life.


#1 Create a system....

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Kathleen Notes: A good article for anyone to read.

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Will Letter Grades Survive?

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.”

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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.

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Anxiety in Children: A Metaphor to Put You In Their Shoes (And Right Beside Them)
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.
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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.

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How An ‘All or Nothing’ Mentality Creates an Obsession with the Future

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.

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Kathleen Notes: We don`t live in the future...we live now.

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Truly, Madly, Deeply in Love… with Myself
There aren’t many personality traits that reference Greek mythology, in this case Narcissus, the beautiful young hunter who disdained human relationships and instead fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. While over 2,000 years would seem to be enough time to figure out where narcissists’ extreme self-love comes from, and what they think and feel and believe deep down, the study of narcissism is still shot through with controversies and unknowns....
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Numerous studies find that levels of narcissism have been steadily rising among teenagers and young adults in North America. In a 2014 review, Miller and colleagues reported that compared to Americans 65 and older, those in their 20s were nearly three times as likely to have symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissism exists within virtually everyone to a degree, since at its core it is “the drive to feel special, to stand out from the other seven billion people on the planet, to feel exceptional,” argues psychologist Craig Malkin, author of the 2015 book Rethinking Narcissism and director of YM Psychotherapy and Consultation in Cambridge, Massachusetts.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: The term "narcissism" gets thrown around a lot these days. True, diagnosable narcissism is a personality disorder and fortunately is rare. It`s not healthy self-worth but an extreme of self-love that lacks empathy or compassion for others.

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3 Guilt And Shame Messages Of Childhood Emotional Neglect And How To Defeat Them

Adults who were emotionally neglected in childhood can be quite perfectionistic and hard on themselves. But for many, it does not stop there.

Why? Because the messages of Childhood Emotional Neglect run deep. They go to the heart of the child, and stay with him for a lifetime. They not only damage his ability to understand and trust his own feelings, they damage his ability to understand and trust himself.

The messages of CEN are like invisible infusions of guilt and shame that happen every day in the life of the child.

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Kathleen Notes: Emotional neglect in childhood impacts so many adults. For a child to be seen and heard equals survival. To not be seen and heard is devastating and traumatic....and many don`t even realize because their childhood felt "normal".

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Eating together as a family helps children feel better

“From a population-health perspective, our findings suggest that family meals have long-term influences on children’s physical and mental well-being,” said Harbec.

At a time when fewer families in Western countries are having meals together, it would be especially opportune now for psycho-social workers to encourage the practice at home – indeed, even make it a priority, the researchers believe. And family meals could be touted as advantageous in public-information campaigns that aim to optimize child development.

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Kathleen Notes: OK, we`ve heard this for a long time but this study provides some additional information, gathered over 20 years in a longitudinal study. This could be one of the easiest ways to bring your children into a healthier adulthood.

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Obedience: Why Do You Have To Tell Them Five Times?
"In one fairly typical encounter, a father asked his eight-year-old son five times to please go take a bath or a shower. After the fifth plea went unheeded, the father picked the boy up and carried him into the bathroom. A few minutes later, the kid, still unwashed, wandered into another room to play a video game."
-Elizabeth Kolbert
This situation may be extreme, but most parents I know have some version of this complaint. It`s a good question: Why don`t kids just do what we say the first time we say it?! And there`s a good answer. Several, in fact. Here are eight reasons from the child`s perspective -- plus solutions that work for parents!   ...more

Kathleen Notes: 8 reasons...not excuses but an insight into what is going on in your child`s brain and emotions. When you have insight it`s easier to respond in ways that work and enhance the relationship.

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For Your Own Protection: How Complex Trauma Changes a Person
Although it remains explicitly absent from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, complex posttraumatic stress (C-PTSD) is a condition that has gained broad acceptance in the mental health community. The symptoms and features of C-PTSD may be similar to borderline personality and posttraumatic stress (PTSD) and are most commonly associated with experiences of chronic child abuse or neglect, though any uneven power dynamic exploited over a prolonged period—such as kidnapping/hostage situations, indentured servitude, cults, or even intimate partner violence—can be the basis for complex trauma.....
.....In fact, when someone has been chronically maltreated during any portion of life as a result of any type of abuse or emotional neglect, they may develop an inner propensity to manifest a variety of external symptoms. These tend to include but are not limited to “airheadedness,” anxiety, somatic symptoms (migraines, stomachaches, etc.), dissociation, and depression.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Complex trauma is unique to the person, and symptoms are also individual. As much as the person might like to, they can`t just "get over it and move on." Treatment to regulate emotions and process the trauma are necessary and can take a long time.

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Yale Research Confirms What You`ve Always Suspected: Nobody Is Normal

Take anxiety, for instance. Is it weird and bad if you`re more prone to worry than most other people you know? Well, science shows that anxiety is probably keeping you safer, pushing you to be better prepared in important areas of your life, and improving your memory, even if it often doesn`t feel good. On net, is that a win or a loss? Or look at risk taking. If you`re a little further on the fearless end of the spectrum, your chances of suffering some life-threatening mishap are likely higher, but so are your chances of starting a world-changing company. Our strengths and weaknesses are intimately tied together.

"I would argue that there is no fixed normal," senior author Avram Holmes commented, summing up the findings. "There`s a level of variability in every one of our behaviors," and "any behavior is neither solely negative or solely positive. There are potential benefits for both, depending on the context you`re placed in."

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Kathleen Notes: I always knew it....

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You Can Get PTSD From Staying In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Stop. Just stop asking why a woman is so stupid and so weak when she stays in an abusive relationship. There’s no answer you can possibly understand.

Your judgment only further shames abused women. It shames women like me.

There was no punch on the very first date with my ex-husband. That’s not normally how abusive marriages start. In fact, my first date was probably pretty similar to yours: he was charming, he paid attention to me, and he flattered me.

Of course, the red flags were there in the beginning of my relationship. But I was young and naïve, probably much like you were in the beginning of your relationship.

Except my marriage took a different turn than yours.

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Kathleen Notes: An abusive relationship is very complex and can be difficult to understand from the outside. While harm often happens in the context of relationships, so does healing. Your relationship with Jesus is the ultimate in healing relationships!

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Kids Need Mental Health Days Too

As my dad drove me to school, I could feel it welling up inside — the pressure, the overwhelm, the exhaustion. I looked out the window and tried to pull it together, but my dad could sense something was wrong. He asked if I was okay, and the dam broke. “I think I need a mental health day,” I squeaked, as the tears started to fall.

My dad did the best thing he could have done in that moment — he immediately turned the car around. I told him I had a test that day, and he said he was sure I’d be able to make it up. “I need mental health days sometimes, too,” he said. I exhaled, the weight of my young world slipping off my shoulders.

It was one of those moments from my upbringing that really stuck with me. That sense of understanding from my father, the message that self-care is important, the permission to take time when you really need it. That simple act of turning the car around without question was one of the most validating things I’ve ever experienced.

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Kathleen Notes: Childhood is when we learn many things that are necessary for adult life i.e. life skills. Self care is a necessary life skill.

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The Hallmarks Of A Resilient Relationship: Harmony Rupture Repair

Nevertheless, common culture continues to promote the notion that when you find the right person, things should naturally flow in a positive direction. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the worst enemies of happiness in a relationship is stagnation. The couple that stops growing together ends up growing apart. In every successful relationship, each member of the couple must be challenging the other to grow and change in meaningful ways.

It’s not about changing into a different person for your partner; it’s only about listening to your partner’s feelings and needs and making an honest effort, out of love, to meet them. As long as your partner is asking for healthy things (even if they’re painful or difficult), this is a process of pushing each other to grow. That is the hallmark of a successful relationship.

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Kathleen Notes: Conflict is a normal part of any relationship. How you handle it is what makes the difference.

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How Nature Makes Kids Calmer, Healthier, Smarter

Did you grow up as I did, building dams in the stream, climbing trees, and chasing fireflies as the evening darkened? If you did, you`ll agree with me that all children deserve those experiences.

Nowadays, though, many of us don`t have yards. Even if we do, when we try to send our kids outside, there`s often no one to play with. And most parents worry that we have to stay outside with them to keep them safe -- but we have to make dinner! 

So most kids spend most of their time inside.  As a result, the average fifth grader, given a choice, prefers to stay inside, close to electrical sockets and all the entertainment sources they power.

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Kathleen Notes: Free Range Kids!! BTW, this is great for adukts, too.

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10 Things Grandchildren Need to Hear
Kids learn best how they are loved when it is demonstrated to them through loving actions. Saying “I love you” without showing love can feel like empty words to a child––or anyone really. In the same way, God, who is the perfect loving Father, displayed the depth of His love by sending his only Son whose sacrifice would pay the price for our sin. Reminding your grandchild of how God lovingly offers new life in Christ to anyone who would turn from their sin to follow Jesus is a great way to help them realize how great the Father`s love is for them....
......Jesus said, “The student will become like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Your grandchildren will learn to love by how they observe you loving others––not by how you tell them they should be treating people. You will bless your grandchildren if you teach them the secret to loving others deeply is not found in how well they measure up to your expectations, but in how well they love God. And let it begin with you.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Grandparents, you are in the position to be a blessing to your grandchildren in so many ways! What you do and say matters.

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How to Recognize Your Inner Critic
We notice that the critic lives in a world of absolutes, with little room for nuance or gray areas. Her favorite words are should, always, and never, and blame is her operating system. “You’ve blown it, you always do.” “You should just give up.” “You’re so different, no one will ever love you.” “You’re so flawed, you’ll never be able to help yourself, let alone anybody else.” Instead of creating a wide and open space for embracing our lives, the inner critic causes us to question our worth and collapse in on ourselves.

For some, the inner critic is a specific voice from the past—your mother, your aunt, a child, the boss who fired you. My friend Joseph Goldstein still remembers the first-grade teacher who gave him a big red F in cutting and pasting. (This was in the days when you mixed flour and water to make paste, and Joseph’s work was apparently very messy.)

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Kathleen Notes: It can also be the voice of the Enemy, trying to drown out the voice of Jesus that tells you in Scripture that you are a new creation in Him. Either way, that voice needs to be recognized and disputed with Truth. God`s Word IS truth...

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How Mistakes Can Strengthen Our Families
I used to have a very hard time seeing anything but the ways I had failed when I faced struggles as a parent. If I was dealing with siblings fighting, I figured it was because I had done everything wrong and failed to teach the kids to get along. If one of my kids struggled to focus when doing school work, I chastised myself for not knowing the way to help them learn better......
.....Each time we solve a new problem, or make a mistake and learn from it, we’re gaining resilience. If we spend our life constantly running from struggle, we stay stuck.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Don`t run from your mistakes, embrace them as a learning opportunity!

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Before the Hormones Hit

If there ever can be such a thing as pure pleasure in parenting, preadolescence is it. The terrible twos are a fading memory. Your child now dresses and feeds himself—even takes a shower without nagging. You and your child have conversations where he expresses his thoughts and wishes. And best of all, he admires you!

We call this oasis of tranquility, when the child is nine to twelve, the “golden years,” a time as blissful as a lazy boat ride down the river on a pleasant summer afternoon.

Sure, you know adolescence is just around the bend, and there may be some rapids ahead, but for now parenting is good.

It took a unique experience before we fully realized the incredible opportunity parents have during those golden years to prepare their children for adolescence. There’s almost no current, the river is as placid as a sheet, there’s no waterfall creating a roar that makes hearing one another difficult. It’s a great time to talk calmly about what lies ahead.

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Kathleen Notes: Just when you think you have "this child" figured out he/she becomes "that child"...

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Give Me Patience – Now!
Frustrating circumstances compete for our attention, drawing our focus from God and his plans toward the obstacles in our way. But God can be in fellowship with us in our sufferings. Jesus knows what it is like to deal with the annoying, everyday situations that tug on our patience like a pesky three-year-old pulling on our shirttails in a candy store. Jesus was constantly interrupted along the way, yet he wasn’t impatient or unkind. He didn`t respond as if people were an inconvenience to his goals but rather as if they were the purpose behind his goals. The question is, how can we be more like Jesus and improve our patience walk?   ...more

Kathleen Notes: A tough one but nothing is impossible with God.

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15 Common Cognitive Distortions
What’s a cognitive distortion and why do so many people have them? Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.......
......Cognitive distortions are at the core of what many cognitive-behavioral and other kinds of therapists try and help a person learn to change in psychotherapy. By learning to correctly identify this kind of “stinkin’ thinkin’,” a person can then answer the negative thinking back, and refute it. By refuting the negative thinking over and over again, it will slowly diminish overtime and be automatically replaced by more rational, balanced thinking.
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Kathleen Notes: So common that we gave them a name....and....this article only lists the top 15...

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Handling Boredom: Why It`s Good for Your Child

“Mom, Dad....I’m bored.”

Makes you feel put on the spot, right? You might even feel like you`re a bad parent. Most of us pressured to solve this "problem" right away. We usually respond to our kids’ boredom by providing technological entertainment or structured activities. But that`s actually counter-productive. Children need to encounter and engage with the raw stuff that life is made of: unstructured time.

One of our biggest challenges as adults, and even as teenagers, is learning to manage our time well. So it`s essential for children to have the experience of deciding for themselves how to use periods of unstructured time, or they`ll never learn to manage it.

Maybe even more important, unstructured time gives children the opportunity to explore their inner and outer worlds, which is the beginning of creativity. This is how they learn to engage with themselves and the world, to imagine and invent and create.

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Kathleen Notes: Yes!!!

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Take a Mindful Moment: 5 Simple Practices for Daily Life

How often have you rushed out the door and into your day without even thinking about how you’d like things to go? Before you know it, something or someone has rubbed you the wrong way, and you’ve reacted automatically with frustration, impatience, or rage—in other words, you’ve found yourself acting in a way you never intended.

You don’t have to be stuck in these patterns. Pausing to practice mindfulness for just a few minutes at different times during you day can help your days be better, more in line with how you’d like them to be.

Explore these five daily practices for bringing more mindfulness into your life:

1) Wake up with awareness
2) Enjoy every mouthful
3)Give your fast brain a break
4) Activate your mind and muscles
5) Drive yourself calm, not crazy

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Kathleen Notes: Mindfulness is simply staying in the present moment, intentionally. Too often we try to live in the past (depression) or the future (anxiety). Only God can live in those places.

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13 Signs of High Emotional Intelligence

In 1995, psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman published a book introducing most of the world to the nascent concept of emotional intelligence. The idea--that an ability to understand and manage emotions greatly increases our chances of success--quickly took off, and it went on to greatly influence the way people think about emotions and human behavior.

But what does emotional intelligence look like, as manifested in everyday life?

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Kathleen Notes: When a person has awareness of both their intellectual and emotional intelligence, the sky is the limit. This is one to read!

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Four Lessons on Burnout from a Combat Pilot

Jannell MacAulay was doing something that her father only dreamed for her when she was a child — working as a military leader and pilot, a job not open to women in the ’80s. In this TEDx Talk, she describes how powerful that experience was — becoming a military leader, commander, academic, and wife — but also how she struggled to stay at the peak of her game while experiencing intense pressure to attain perfection in every role. The drive to succeed and avoid failure at all costs caused her to burn out.

Here are four takeaways from her talk:

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Kathleen Notes: Burnout isn`t just for combat pilots, everyone is at risk if you forget good self care!

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8 Things You Can Do When Your Child Is Belligerent
When children are having a hard time, their feelings usually explode at the people with whom they feel safe -- Us! It`s natural for us to get angry, reprimand, tell them to behave, or send them off to calm down. 

But when kids act rude and belligerent, they aren`t trying to give us a hard time.  They`re trying to send us an SOS.

If we respond by yelling, threatening, or sending them away to "calm down," we shut the door they`ve opened, and leave them to struggle on their own. Of course, your child`s belligerence might look more like a mine field than an open door!

Here`s how to find your way through that minefield to connect with your child and stop the drama.

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Kathleen Notes: ALL behavior is communication. When we look for what is behind the behavior, we discover how to solve the problem.

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Trying to Parent Your Stepchildren – Is It a Good Idea?

The best parenting advice you can follow regarding how to deal with stepchildren is to communicate with your spouse. How do they want you to move forward as a stepparent? Odds are they will have strong opinions about whether you should be involved with the discipline process.

It’s beneficial to talk about the core issues that you and your spouse agree on and narrow down your differences in how you approach parenting. Doing so will help you further define your role.

In the end, it is up to your spouse to decide what role you will play in their child’s life regarding discipline.

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Kathleen Notes: This is a very delicate situation. Before you try to parent, I suggest taking the time to develop a strong relationship, perhaps as more of a mentor than a parent. In the meanwhile, support your spouse in their parenting and vise versa.

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WHEN OTHERS DON’T UNDERSTAND

I know it’s important to release and work through these feelings. For years I too banged my head against the wall when it came to reacting to all of the above. But at a certain point, I realized that is exactly what I was doing.

I was banging my head against the wall.

I wasn’t working through these feelings. I was just repeating them, and feeding my anger and frustration. And in so doing, I was giving these non-productive feelings precious time and energy; time and energy that I could have be dedicating to something else. I wasn’t helping myself any, and I more than likely wasn’t encouraging others to try to come around and gain the understanding that I so desired. (I don’t know about you, but I know of very few people who decide to “jump on board” after being berated, whether they were in the right or in the wrong…)

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Kathleen Notes: No matter what the "invisible illness"is, physical, mental or emotional, you aren`t obligated to anyone`s response except your own. You have nothing to prove. “People are going to judge you. People are going to give you a hard time,” Smith says. “Educate them as much as you can. But at the end of the day, it’s not your job to prove that you’re sick.” U.S. News and World Report article on Life with “Invisible” Illness

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6 Sad Reasons Why A Family Creates A Black Sheep

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.

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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.

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Things God Never Said
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"

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The Difference Between an Emotionally Neglectful Parent and an Emotionally Attuned One

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.

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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.

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Are You An Externalizer Or An Internalizer? 4 Ways Of Handling Blame

4 Ways Of Handling Blame

  1. Externalizers: These are folks who automatically look for someone or something to blame when things go wrong, and it’s almost never themselves. Externalizers are like Teflon when it comes to blame.
  2. Internalizers: Take too much responsibility for problems when they arise, and turn the blame toward themselves, even when they don’t even remotely deserve it.
  3. Balanced: These people recognize and own their own mistakes, while also taking a realistic and balanced account of the contribution of other people and circumstances.
  4. Inconsistent Internalizers: This involves blaming yourself harshly and often, but also flipping over to the extreme opposite at key times, letting yourself off the hook and failing to hold yourself accountable when you should. There is little in-between these two extremes. This style is common in people who grew up with Emotional Neglect.

The best way to become an Externalizer or an Internalizer or an Inconsistent Internalizer is to grow up in a family that handles blame in an unbalanced way. A family’s unbalanced approach to blame sets its children up to be either overly harsh with themselves or to be Teflon. Or to be Category 4, someone who flips.

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Kathleen Notes:This is the Judge, Blame and Punish cycle in action. What`s the cure? Attunement of both your own emotions and others can give the necessary insight needed to become a balanced "blamer."

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Relational Drift
It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to predict this one: extreme pressures at work, serious problems with a child, no sex, and little communication. Of course one partner began to feel as if he were no longer in love. “If you don’t water your plants,” Diana admits in retrospect, “eventually they’re going to die; you have to nourish your relationship.”....
......Our kids have often remarked that Lisa and I don’t seem all that “compatible.” We don’t like the same foods. We have different definitions of “vacation.” But what outweighs these differences by a ton is the fact that we are as committed as a couple can be to seeking first the kingdom of God. We share articles on various issues, pass around books, talk about sermons and podcasts.
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Kathleen Notes: If you starve something long enough, it will die. Marriages are like that too.

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What Didn’t Happen

First, I’d like you to think of an event that happened yesterday.  It can be anything, big or small…just something that happened.

Second, I’d like you to think of something that didn’t happen yesterday.

My guess is that the second request was quite a bit more difficult to fulfill than the first.  That’s because our brains record events as memories.  Things that fail to happen go unnoticed, unseen, and unremembered.

Mental health professionals, as well as most of the general public, have long been aware of the fact that what happens to us in childhood has a tremendous effect upon who we become as adults.  I have become aware that the opposite of this is also true; that what doesn’t happen for us in childhood has an equal or greater effect.

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Kathleen Notes: This is why Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) is so tough to spot.

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6 Mindful Ways to Make Your Snacks More Satisfying
“Many of us just eat because food is there. We see it, and we respond automatically because it looks good,” says Dr. Susan Albers, Psy.D., New York Times bestselling author of Eating Mindfully. That can mean that no matter the portion size of your snack, or how often you eat, you’re not satisfied by it. “You get to the bottom of the bowl and say, ‘I didn’t really enjoy it.’ That’s when you look for more.” (SOURCE: Mondelez video with Dr. Albers from YouTube)

Just by shifting our focus from what we eat to concentrating more on why and how we’re eating, we can get much more satisfaction and enjoyment from our snacks, Albers says—even with a portion that’s better for your health.

“One of the common misconceptions is that if you give yourself permission to eat the foods you love, you think you are going to go overboard,” she says. But if you snack mindfully, that’s not the case. “By practicing mindful snacking you can eat the foods you love, enjoy them more and have more satisfaction. It doesn’t take a lot of effort. It just takes focus. And it’s a tool you can use anywhere.”
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Kathleen Notes: Mindfullness can happen anywhere and will enhance the experience of being alive. All you need to do is slow down and pay attention.

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The Bloody Hope for Every Marriage

Some desires in marriage are never going to be fulfilled and need to be “crucified.” In fact, various studies have suggested that more than fifty percent of marital issues will never be resolved. You can fight against this all you want. You can resent it. You can say it’s not fair. But it won’t change what is. If you want your marriage to move forward, you have to live with what is.

Fortunately, life in Jesus provides a brilliant but severe remedy for living with unfulfilled desires and unmet expectations: the cross. We need to constantly remember that our lives shouldn’t be defined first and foremost by our marital happiness, but by seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness. That pursuit will, in the end, produce happiness, but we have to keep first things first.

So here’s the spiritual trick. Transform the focus of your expectations from what you expect of your spouse to what your God expects of you. We can’t make any one person do what we think they should do (that just leads to futility and frustration), but we can surrender to what God would have us do in light of that (which leads to peace with God and divine affirmation).

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Kathleen Notes: No one gets the perfect spouse. If you can adjust your expectations to that reality, you can find happiness and contentment. Note: this does not apply to abusive situations, ever.

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Delaying School May Protect Against Developmental Disorders

I was my son’s age when I started school, which at four and a half years old, made me one of the youngest kids in my class.

Luckily, I was a child of the ‘80’s when kindergarten wasn’t the new first grade and the academic pressures on kids were dwarfed by modern standards.

But, times have changed. We’ve moved on and become more sophisticated. Modern kids, it seems, are more advanced. They can read and write and add and subtract at younger ages than ever before, with one friend telling me recently that second graders are mastering computer coding. Seriously?....

...A 2015 study titled, The Gift of Time? Starting School Age and Mental Health found strong evidence that delaying kindergarten by one year provides mental health benefits to children, allowing them to better self-regulate their attention and hyperactivity levels when they do start school. The effect was long-lasting, virtually eliminating the probability that an average eleven-year-old child would have an ‘abnormal’, or higher-than-normal rating for inattentive-hyperactive behavioral measures.

This is powerful information, yet public education policies in western nations fail to evolve.

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Kathleen Notes: Amen! Children need time to develop on their schedule, not according to the schedule of whatever school they might attend.

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Why Relationships Are the Key to Longevity

Plenty of exercise. Healthy food. Positive attitude. Plain old good luck. There’s lots of advice out there about how to keep body and brain in optimal shape as the years roll by.

But Louis Cozolino, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, is deeply engaged with another idea. In Timeless: Nature’s Formula for Health and Longevity, he emphasizes the positive impact of human relationships.

“Of all the experiences we need to survive and thrive, it is the experience of relating to others that is the most meaningful and important,” he writes.

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Kathleen Notes: Both injury and healing take place within relationships. God made us to be relational beings: with Him and with each other. It makes sense that it would play a big role in living a long and happier life. However, that being said...check out the following article...

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God Used a Parakeet to Love Our Daughter

When our daughter Deborah, aka Peanut, was 16, we had one of those father-daughter kitchen conversations. Amid the mealtime mess and clamor came this declaration: “Dad, I want to be able to do what I want to do … with whoever I want to do it with … whenever I want … for as long as I want.”

I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly. “What did you say?”

When she repeated her statement, I smiled and said, “Peanut, what if your parakeet came to you and said, ‘Deborah, I’d like to go do what I want to do, with whoever I want to do it with, whenever I want to do it, for as long as I want to do it. And right now, I’d like to go on the porch and play with the cats!’”

Deborah loved her parakeet, affectionately named Sweet Pea. “Would you let Sweet Pea go play outside, Peanut?”

She quickly dismissed my fatherly attempt to reach her. “That’s a silly illustration, Dad.”

I said, “No, it’s not. There’s a cat on the porch right now. Sweet Pea is in the cage right now. The cage is actually a protection for Sweet Pea, don’t you agree?”

Feeling uncomfortable, Deborah attempted to change the subject … and I let her. I knew she had heard.

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Kathleen Notes: Wonderful story and analogy of how/why parents can protect their children until they`re ready to do it for themselves.

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Creating Successful Children By Emphasizing Values
How much should parents focus on achievement? Should we constantly push our children to do their best? Or should we put more effort into helping them become well-rounded individuals who care for the needs of others, even if they might not be quite the students they could have been otherwise? A 2017 study of parents` values suggests that framing our choices this way may create a false dilemma. Children whose parents emphasized values, such as respect and kindness, as much or more than they emphasized achievement were not only better adjusted; they also did better in school.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: If parents can focus on raising "good people` vs high achieving people, it would appear to be a win-win.

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What Everyone Should Know About Emotional Affairs

As a couple’s therapist, I’ve worked with many people whose marriages are threatened by an affair. When it comes to affairs, there are two types: sexual and emotional. In my experience, these two types of affairs are different, and happen in different kinds of relationships.

While sexual affairs are often born of anger, emotional affairs are frequently a result of loneliness.

Before we go on to talk about emotional affairs, one large caveat: none of the reasons I’ll talk about in this article are meant to excuse or justify affairs in any way.

Always, without exception, the healthiest way to deal with marriage problems of any kind is directly with one’s spouse, not going outside the relationship.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: When a marriage struggles, an emotional affair is frighteningly easy to fall into. God created us to be relational. When our most important relationship doesn`t provide the connectiveness we seek it`s a danger to be aware of. Counseling can help a couple to reconnect.

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Challenging the Myths of Talking to Your Kids About Sex

If Christian parents are not talking about God`s design for sex, where will our children learn God`s truth? There are a number of myths or excuses out there that we accept as true that keep parents from talking honestly to their kids about sex.

We don`t talk about sex. 

Our culture talks about sex all the time and just not from a Christian point of view. Traditionally, sex talk has been taboo within our Christian circles. We don`t talk about it much at church or at home. But, if Christians are not talking about sex, we are giving the world the opportunity to fill in the gaps and to educate our children for us. Our schools may offer a onetime lecture, but the majority of the education our children receive should come from their parents. But parents are often shy about discussing sexuality. We may be unsure about how to broach the topic, so we need to see the need and develop some confidence in sharing God`s story about sexuality.

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Kathleen Notes: If we don`t teach our children, the world will. I`d rather they learn from someone who loves them and loves the Lord.

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You Can’t Change Others, but You Can Change Your Seat

Many of us have relatives who make us feel really bad, who don’t respect us, who we wouldn’t even talk to if they weren’t our cousins or sisters or whatever. Of course, you’ll meet one another at various family affairs, and you have to be polite, but how do you stand it? An afternoon with some people can make you ready to hide under your bed and never come out, you feel so terrible about yourself.

Notice I said, “You feel so terrible about yourself.” You feel terrible because of the nasty way they have treated you. They, the aggressors, are the ones who should feel terrible. Why take their nastiness inside? It doesn’t belong to you, after all; it belongs to the person giving it to you. Don’t pick it up. Don’t own it.

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Kathleen Notes: My clients hear this all of the time..."you can`t change anyone else, just yourself." But....how you respond can certainly influence others and in the meanwhile you are taking care of a very important person...you.

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4 Things You Should Never Ever Do in Marriage

That quote has relevance to marriage as well. In marriage, there will be times when you “step on each other’s toes,” so to speak. But the really hurtful moments happen when you “step on each other’s hearts” and wound your spouse on an emotional level. There are times when one spouse might intentionally try to hurt the other, but I’m convinced that many of the most damaging wounds in marriage are inflicted unintentionally.

I’m convinced that there are times when we step on our spouses’ hearts and hurt their feelings or damage their trust without even realizing that we’re doing it. Most of us have blind spots that lead to unnecessary pain and conflict in the marriage.

If you want to protect your spouse’s heart, prevent unnecessary conflict and keep a solid foundation of trust in your marriage, then please DON’T do the following four things. You’ll unintentionally hurt your spouse every time you…

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Kathleen Notes: An eye opening list...I confess that I`m guilty of each of these from time to time......

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One of the Most Important Things Our Teens Need From Us – What, Why, and How to Give it To Them

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Kathleen Notes: Love and support coupled with responsibility and the freedom to fail.....a delicate balance but do-able!

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5 Fundamental Relationship Rules From an Expert Marriage Counselor
Don’t judge or criticize your partner. These negative relationship behaviors are some of the most destructive. When you criticize your partner, they feel a sense of disapproval which puts them on the defense. They take in the message, “I’m flawed and need fixing” or “my partner doesn’t accept me.” No spouse wants to feel inadequate or not good enough and constant judgment or criticism portray that. Stay away from blanket statements like “you always” or “you never” or the instinct to scoff at your significant other’s new idea. Instead, state your needs using “I” statements (“I feel like you’ve been neglecting me when you don’t come home as promised”) and show support (“I love that idea! You can do it. I’m behind you.”) We all want to feel like our partner has our back and is on our side....
.....Listen to Understand. We often approach conflict right out of the gate with guns blazing. Unfortunately, this tactic leaves us feeling more at odds and hopeless as ever, especially if our partners fire back. Understanding must precede advice. Seek to listen first with empathy. See where they’re coming from even if you don’t agree. Common ground can’t be obtained without first seeing the situation from your spouse’s perspective. As you listen, refrain from building more ammunition for your difference of opinion. You end up hearing less of what they are feeling and instead, counter attack.
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Kathleen Notes:...and many more! Check out the article!

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Dear Dad: “You Need to Love Your Wife as You Want Your Daughter to Be Loved”

Besides the one with our Heavenly Father himself, there’s hardly a relationship that can compare with that of a father and daughter. For so many, the way a father interacts with his daughter is the representation that a young lady holds of her relationship with God for the duration of her life.

Even more important to note, little eyes are always watching and soaking up more than most of us as busy adults can imagine.

She watches the way you hold her mom’s hand, the way you kiss her good night, and the way you speak to her with words of love, respect, and adoration.
Daddies are often protective of who their daughters will date and how they will be treated — but with a world spewing all sorts of distortions of love at them, there’s no way to better represent the way she deserves to be treated than by serving your wife well.
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Kathleen Notes: Never say/do anything to your daughter that you wouldn`t like to hear/see her husband do to her someday.

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Uncomfortable Truths About the ADHD Nervous System

Most people with ADHD have always known they are different. They were told by parents, teachers, employers, spouses, and friends that they did not fit the common mold and that they had better shape up in a hurry if they wanted to make something of themselves.

As if they were immigrants, they were told to assimilate into the dominant culture and become like everyone else. Unfortunately, no one told them how to do this. No one revealed the bigger secret: It couldn’t be done, no matter how hard they tried. The only outcome would be failure, made worse by the accusation that they will never succeed because ADHD in adults means they don’t try hard enough or long enough.

It seems odd to call a condition a disorder when the condition comes with so many positive features. People with an ADHD-style nervous system tend to be great problem-solvers. They wade into problems that have stumped everyone else and jump to the answer. They are affable, likable people with a sense of humor. They have what Paul Wender called “relentless determination.” When they get hooked on a challenge, they tackle it with one approach after another until they master the problem — and they may lose interest entirely when it is no longer a challenge.

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Kathleen Notes: I don`t see ADHD as a disorder but a different way of thinking and experiencing the world. However, it often runs afoul of how the rest of the world works. Learning more is really helpful in figuring out how to thrive.

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Stress and Emotional Eating: Exploring Our Relationship with Food
For many of us, stress is a fundamental part of life. Perhaps we tend to overextend ourselves with work, social commitments, and our personal lives. Or maybe we never turn off our many devices, which can prevent us from being able to simply relax and enjoy each moment. As a result of this overstimulation, we often end up seeking out ways to self-soothe.

Food can be a source of comfort for many people. And while emotional eating can help us feel good in the moment, it can often have negative effects over time.

How can we know if we have an unhealthy relationship with food? Signs that indicate emotional eating may be having a negative impact can include:

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Kathleen Notes: Holidays + stress and busyness = emotional eating.

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The First Step to Getting Out of Survival Mode – I Had to Let Go of the Fantasy

I kept looking for the perfect solution to things like sleep, tantrums, eating . . . Each time I thought I had it figured out though, things would change, my kids would hit a new stage, and I’d be back to searching for another solution.

One day, I realized I was spending most of my time in survival mode, not enjoying the moment, enduring my kids rather than noticing them, and anxious the whole time that I was screwing it all up. I was worried I’d be filled with regret later if I couldn’t stop feeling so frantic and exhausted.

I needed a starting place to change how I was feeling. I didn’t want to spend their entire childhood in survival mode.

I thought about the brightest moments in my own childhood—they were often simple, like my mom teaching me to shuffle cards, or my dad teaching me to whistle with a blade of grass. I thought about the most treasured moments in our family life. Many of them were just as simple, and yet nothing like I thought they would be.

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Kathleen Notes: Oh goodness...I think almost all parents start out with a fantasy of who they will be as parents and with "fantasy children." The real ones are so much more interesting!

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Want Your Children to Be Great Adults? Don’t Teach Them Self-Esteem—Teach Them This

Since the 1980s, parents have been told by child psychologists, doctors, and other parenting experts that self-esteem is KEY to raising a successful child. But after about 30 years of everyone thinking they’re the best at everything because mom said so (and because they got a trophy for showing up), professionals are changing their tune. Desperate to raise kids who would become responsible, functional adults, and not liking what she was seeing in her four kids at home, mom Heidi Landes went on a search to find out what she was missing.

“How am I going to get them to college, when I can’t even get them out the door with two shoes on?” she asked herself....

.....So what should our kids be taught instead? Not self-ESTEEM, but self-CONTROL.

Why? Well, because studies have shown that kids who are taught to have self-control will grow up to be adults who are less likely to have drug and alcohol problems, commit a crime, or struggle financially. They go on to become adults who are more likely to be in good health, earn more and save more money, volunteer and give to charity, and be satisfied with their lives.

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Kathleen Notes: So happy to share this article, I`ve been "preaching" this point for decades! The foundation of good self-esteem is self-efficacy. Knowing that you have the ability to handle life`s struggles (because you have been able to previously) lends "waypower" to willpower.

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Intrusive Thoughts: 5 Ways to Help Your Child Take Back Control

She talks through her tears about how overwhelming it is to live like this. She keeps having these thoughts – that her friends won’t like her, or that something might happen to you when she isn’t with you, and now she wants you to know. When this happens, it can feel as if you are watching your life from afar. As if it isn’t even yours anymore.

As a parent, the desire to control your world can feel overwhelming. Especially, if your child struggles with unwanted thoughts. In the same way you try to control your world, so does your child. This need your child has to control their world is the birthplace of a vicious cycle of unwanted thoughts. Here are five ways to help your child manage any intrusive thoughts that might be pushing a little too hard for attention:

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Kathleen Notes: These thoughts not only make your child feel out of control, but can be a source of shame.

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How I Learned to Honor My Emotions and Support My Own Well-Being

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.

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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.

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Celebrating Singleness: Dating is Not a Goal

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?

 

  • You are already complete on your own. God has gifted you and loves you. Focus on an intense search for a partner might circumvent your growing contentment with God and with self.
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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.

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My child gets on my nerves!! 5 Strategies to Help You Take Your Kid’s Behavior Less Personally

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.

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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.

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Affect Tolerance: What Can I Do About All These Darned Feelings?
“Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful parts of us.” —David Richo, PhD, MFT

“Everyone is down on pain, because they forgot something important about it: Pain is for the living. Only the dead don’t feel it.” —Jim Butcher, author

“The sweetest pleasures are those which are hardest to be won.” —Giacomo Casanova, adventurer and author

According to Sigmund Freud, we’re all pleasure seekers; it’s our fundamental nature. He said maturity is the ability to postpone desire for comfort and pleasure in order to deal with reality. Despite ongoing controversy about some of his more unusual concepts, I think he was right about this one. Humans have come up with an astounding variety of ways to change pain into pleasure.

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Kathleen Notes: Riiight...most of us would do anything not to feel what we think of as "bad" emotions. But if you can stay with them, you`ll find a wealth of self-understanding and better coping. After all, they don`t go away just because you ignore them. They just gain strength.

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15 Common Cognitive Distortions
What’s a cognitive distortion and why do so many people have them? Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.

For instance, a person might tell themselves, “I always fail when I try to do something new; I therefore fail at everything I try.” This is an example of “black or white” (or polarized) thinking. The person is only seeing things in absolutes — that if they fail at one thing, they must fail at all things. If they added, “I must be a complete loser and failure” to their thinking, that would also be an example of overgeneralization — taking a failure at one specific task and generalizing it their very self and identity.

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Kathleen Notes: Wrong or distorted thinking is so common to the human race that we gave it a name: Cognitive Distortions. We ALL do these but each of us have our personal favorites. Take a look to find yours...after all, you can`t fix what you aren`t aware of.

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5 Don’ts of Family Rule Making
You’ve set a curfew for your teenage child and every time they go out they seem to have a wonderful excuse as to why they are late. You’ve set a dating standard for your home, and your kids seem to want to debate as to why it doesn’t apply to their current situation. Perhaps you have an adult child living at home who challenges your decision to make church attendance a requirement for living in your home. Whatever the case may be, it seems like standards, whether big or small, are challenged almost before they are set. How does a parent navigate through this journey, and how does one know if and when to reassess?   ...more

Kathleen Notes: I`m an advocate of weekly family meetings where the kids get to help identify and solve problems. Parents still have all of the authority but use the meeting as a way to teach problem solving, cooperation and also to gain insight on what`s important to their kids.

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Study: Alcohol Abuse Is Biggest Dementia Risk Factor
The Lancet Public Health has published the largest study yet on the link between alcohol abuse and dementia. The study gathered data on all adults discharged from French hospitals between 2008 and 2013. The research found alcohol is the most significant modifiable risk factor for dementia....
.....The study authors say the connection between alcohol abuse and dementia could be even stronger than the research suggests, since they only studied heavy drinkers who had gone to the hospital. The authors believe early detection of alcohol abuse could help prevent many cases of dementia.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: While genetics has an impact, lifestyle also plays a significant role for many health related conditions. If alcohol abuse is a problem, counseling can help you to overcome it.

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The Dimensions of Self-care
Are you tired of hearing the word self-care yet? These days, the whole world seems to be talking about making time for you and starting your own self-care routine (oh wait, I totally did that too). Even though this topic is all over the interwebs, I’m definitely glad to see people retreating from the culture of busy and realizing that finding time for ourselves is vital to living a happy and fulfilling life.

But, of course, with all of this talk about self-care comes a lot of misconception. It’s important to take a moment to make sure we actually know what we mean when we say self-care. Is it taking a bath, getting a massage, and painting your nails? Maybe, but there’s more to it than that.

Today, I’m going to break down the meaning of self-care, tell you all about the five different dimensions (which are totes fascinating if you ask me), and give you tons of practical ideas that you can start incorporating into your self-care regime. Boom.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: I really appreciate this article because it breaks "self-care" into the many pieces of life. Self-care is an everyday opportunity for mental and physical health.

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Sex: It doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means
Your spouse probably doesn’t view sex the way that you do--and that’s a good thing. When God created men and women, He did it in such a way that our differences work together to strengthen the bond between a husband and a wife. Unfortunately, we sometimes assume that our spouse values sex for the same reasons that we do. This is a recipe for frustration and conflict. How do men and women view sex differently--and how can these differences strengthen your marriage?........
.....Sex is an important ingredient in a healthy marriage. Good sex requires understanding how God created men and women differently, and embracing these differences in your marriage. Enjoy your spouse in all the ways God made you to connect.
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Kathleen Notes: In His wisdom, God created men and women differently. Exploring and understanding the differences is a blessing!

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The 5 Special Challenges of the Doubly Emotionally Neglected Couple

When you grow up with parents who do not validate or respond to your feelings, your child brain knows just what to do. It builds a wall to block off the most deeply personal, biological part of who you are: your emotions. Safely tucked behind the wall, your parents (and you) can pretend that your feelings aren’t even there, or don’t matter.

Decades later, when you are in a serious relationship, a series of very predictable problems ensues. That wall that helped you as a child interferes. It blocks off the invaluable internal resource you need to bind and connect you to your partner: your emotions.

Interestingly, those who grow up with Childhood Emotional Neglect tend to be attracted to one another. When your own emotions are blocked off, you are bound to feel most comfortable with a partner whose emotions are also tucked safely away.

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Kathleen Notes: Two wounded people, each looking for the other one to validate them are bound to be disappointed. A Christian counselor can help you to understand yourself, your worth and the worth of your spouse. You are God`s child and Jesus loved you so much that He died to make you His.

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Who does more work in your house? Create a fair division of labor

Sharing household chores was in the top three highest-ranking issues necessary for a successful marriage, according to a 2007 Pew Research Poll. The first two were faithfulness and good sex.

In the past half-century, the majority of mothers have moved into the paid labor force. The labor force participation of women with children under the age of 18 has risen to 70 percent.

Mothers are the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census data.

In an age when nearly half of two-parent households have both parents working full-time, the distribution of household labor becomes an issue of fairness and respect.

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Kathleen Notes: Yup! This article includes a PDF of chores to help sort out a fair division.

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Relational Hurt or Attachment Injury? How to Tell the Difference
If you have ever been in a relationship, you have experienced hurt. It is inevitable. Even when two people have a connected, secure, and healthy relationship, they will experience hurt at some point. When couples come to therapy, it is often due to an experience or pattern of experiences that created hurt for one or both partners. They decide to pursue therapy because they are having a hard time resolving this hurt in order to feel safe with each other again.

When working with couples, I seek to understand the nature and significance of the hurt before moving toward resolution. How bad is it? How deep is the impact? First, we must understand the two levels of hurt: relational hurts and attachment injuries.

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Kathleen Notes: Attachment has to do with how we form emotional bonds with people. It begins in us before we even have words to describe it. It`s foundational to a person`s sense of self and understanding of others.

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Spiritual Formation: Springing to Life

I don’t want to forget to tell them. 

Soon, all of creation will sing with the glory of God’s creativity and joy! And I don’t want to forget to tell them that those bulbs that are pushing up from the newly thawed ground and the buds that are stretching forth on the limbs of our trees and the breeze that smells of warmth and soil are all completely covered with the hand prints of God.

Because sometimes, it is easy to forget.

In a world where we more often Google than pray, it is easy for us stand awash in scientific explanation and assume that the spring that is surging forth is nothing more than an explainable event that we can understand and dismiss. But there is more here to see. And if we stand still and squint our eyes, perhaps it will come into view.

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Kathleen Notes: Sharing the glory of God`s creation is just one way to build your child`s relationship with God and with you!!

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Heal Your Childhood
When you get triggered with your child, you automatically move into "fight or flight."  It`s hard to love unconditionally. Of course, your child might need you to set a clear, kind limit, but you`ll do that better if you aren`t seeing him as the enemy while you`re doing it.

Often, we think it`s our child`s fault that we get triggered. But do you ever wonder when those triggers were built into your psyche?  That`s right -- during your own childhood. Those are your triggers, and life will keep triggering you until you heal them. 

In addition to making us yell and shout, those triggers can affect our moods, creating low grade irritability and smoldering resentments that close off our hearts to the joy and love that are constantly available to us. If you want to liberate your heart to love unconditionally, you have to heal your old wounds.

Most of us didn`t have perfect childhoods, even if we had parents who really loved us. Our parents, however well-intentioned, were products of their time, and most of us didn`t get the message that we were wholly loved, human imperfections and all.

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Notes:

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Should You Go To Couples` Therapy Just Because, Even If You`re Not Arguing?
There are ways to understand your partner better that don`t entail a personality quiz (although sitting down together to fill out your Myers Briggs types could be a fun date, but I`m a dork so what do I know?). Couples` therapy is one way to do that. "But Elana!" you protest. "We never fight. Why would we go to therapy together?" Ah, see, couples` therapy isn`t just for couples who are on the brink of breaking up. It can actually be a beneficial tool to know your partner better in many aspects of your relationship. Couples` therapy can help you learn about those little quirks a little bit faster, and in a setting that allows you both the space to air your thoughts in a safe manner.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Yeah! Just like counseling isn`t for "crazy" people. It`s for anyone who wants better insight and functioning in their lives and relationships.

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Stages of Trauma Recovery: What It Means to Be a ‘Survivor’
I was recently reading a blog post and noticed that someone in the comment section asked the question: “What does it mean when we refer to someone as a survivor?” We hear about “survivors” of domestic violence and “survivors” of sexual assault all the time, but what does it mean when we refer to people in this way? I thought this was a good question to explore. The description provided by the National Crime Victim Law Institute states a survivor is “a person who endures adversity, moves through it, and perseveres, or a person with resiliency who remains undefeated.” I like that definition.    ...more

Kathleen Notes: Trauma treatment is long and difficult work, but worth it in every way. I am honored by my clients who allow me to come along side them on that journey.

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Anxiety in Children – 10 Practical Strategies to Help Kids Manage Perfectionism
An anxious mind is also a beautifully creative, imaginative mind. This is a great thing, except for when that imagination and creativity is being used to imagine outcomes that feel unbearable, however unlikely they may be. These thoughts of what ‘could’ happen, drive self-talk, which in turn directs behaviour towards doing whatever is necessary to avoid a bad outcome. Hello perfectionism.

When perfectionism takes hold, it’s not so much with a gentle, ‘I’ll be over here in case you need me’, kind of way, but more in a, ‘oooohhh let me stay with you and protect you and never let you go’, kind of way. Perfectionism can be relentless, and although it can be helpful, it can also be suffocating – and so exhausting!

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Kathleen Notes: "Perfectionism" isn`t always what it seems on the outside. All behavior is a form of communication...what`s being said?

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10 Way to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries
Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and, really, a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn, according to psychologist and coach Dana Gionta, Ph.D. We might pick up pointers here and there from experience or through watching others. But for many of us, boundary-building is a relatively new concept and a challenging one.

Having healthy boundaries means “knowing and understanding what your limits are,” Dr. Gionta said.

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Kathleen Notes: Another life skill, one that comes from knowing what is yours to solve and what isn`t.

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Letter to My Anxiety: I’ve Met Someone Else. Her Name Is Hope.
Sometimes you remind me of the people who told me the same things when I was younger—especially my mom and dad. Sometimes you even remind me of that teacher in elementary school who liked to sit me in the back of the room with the other kids who didn’t get the best grades....
.....

But then my new friend started telling me that things could be different.

I know. It sounded crazy to me, too, but I knew I had to start somewhere if there was a chance things could get better.......

I realized the other day when I was talking to her that my parents and those others from my childhood were wrong about a lot of things—and that might mean they were wrong about me, too.

I don’t think you and I had ever thought about it like that.

In fact, I’m starting to realize that you and I hadn’t considered a lot of things.

I’m starting to wonder if our late-night conversations about what might happen tomorrow, next year, or when I’m older are healthy for me.

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Kathleen Notes: Challenging the thoughts and beliefs that you are SURE are "true" is one of the first steps...

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How to battle negative thinking and win

Even if you’re not dealing with a major challenge like a break-up, job loss, or a health problem, a negativity spiral has the power to paralyze. Whatever the cause, your happiness depends on being able to stop those critical or defeatist forces in their tracks.

A mindful end to the negative thinking

Negative thinking can be a hard habit to break, but it’s possible to interrupt the automatic cycle if you stay AWARE — a simple mindfulness practice that’ll help you rewire negative thinking into something more positive. Here’s an easy guide to the practice:

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Kathleen Notes:...another tough one...still possible with God`s help.

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How Dance/Movement Therapy Can Help Kids Learn to Regulate Emotions

Under-regulation may occur when:

  • Children cannot sense their emotional experience.
  • Children cannot sense environmental triggers.
  • Children have little to no internal mechanism to soothe themselves. This can be seen in some children who have experienced traumatic events and children with neurodiversity.

Under-regulation can result in behaviors such as impulsive actions, physical acting out, frequent meltdowns, poor concentration, and irritability.

Over-regulation may occur when:

  • Children can sense emotions but have trouble listening to them.
  • Children modify or suppress their emotional experience.

Over-regulation may lead children to lose a sense of connection with their emotions and with others. It can result in behaviors such as withdrawal, isolation, compulsions, and even outbursts of anger and aggression.

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Kathleen Notes: Emotional regulation is something that children must learn from their parents and other involved adults. To teach it you must learn it...

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Answering The Question: How Does Emotional Neglect Affect A Child

Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) happens when the parent fails to respond enough to the child’s emotional needs.

The truth is that parents fail to notice their children’s emotions in every family in every household in the world every single day. And that is A-Okay. No parent can, or should, be 100% aware of his child’s feelings all the time, and that is not a requirement to be a good parent.

Childhood Emotional Neglect only happens when the parent fails to notice the child’s emotions enough.

Every child is born with a certain threshold of need for emotional connection, validation, and responsiveness from his or her parents. As a child, your parents may meet your needs sometimes, in some ways. But they may fail you in small, everyday ways that add up over time. And this may leave the footprint of Childhood Emotional Neglect upon you.

First, let’s take a painful peek at Emotional Neglect in action, actually happening to a child.

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Kathleen Notes: I believe that CEN is an epidemic. Parents do the best they can so it`s not about throwing them under the bus. It`s about understanding how it happens so we can stop it, process it and thrive in spite of it. If you only read one article this week, pick this one.

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Don`t Let Your Spouse Make You Angry

We`ve all said, "You make me so mad!" But when we blame others for the way we feel, we`re giving them the ownership of our emotions. That means they`ll become the landlord of our feelings, and we`ll expect them to fix everything.

Renting a house is easier than owning one. But renters aren`t nearly as committed to maintenance and repair, and they`re restricted on making improvements. When someone owns a home, he or she dreams of the possibilities and makes the changes happen. The sky`s the limit — but owners often have to do the work themselves.

Marriages never thrive when spouses rent the relationship, expecting their husband or wife to be responsible for fixing their feelings. If we become the owners of our emotions, we`re free to be co-owners of the relationship. Together with our spouse, we have the potential to build something great.

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Kathleen Notes: If you struggle with uncomfortable emotions, it`s important to first understand yourself and why you feel as you do. Get curious and if you need to, get some help from a counselor.

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Go Outside: Engaging Children in Creation
Driving through the neighborhood, it seems that yards are empty and streets are quiet. As I head out to run errands, I am reminded that children do not play outside as they did years ago. I don`t see kids riding bikes off in a myriad of directions, or wondering at the spray of a water hose, or lying in the grass and finding shapes in the clouds. It seems like children play indoors more than they used to. With screens in their hands, in their rooms, on their desks, throughout their homes, children spend time plugged in and looking down rather than running around. Plus, our schedules have become busier, such that children struggle to find time for unstructured play—to run for the sake of running, to yell and laugh and jump and climb for the sheer joy of the action and not out of a driven purpose. Yes, times have changed. And children are changing too.    ...more

Kathleen Notes:...as important as food, water, clothing and shelter...

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Marriage Conflict: Rules of Engagement

Conflict is Important

Over the years, as couples have shared their stories with me, several have described a pattern of hiding from conflict. Often, this can be traced to negative childhood experiences with conflict: perhaps you witnessed your parents wage World War Three in the kitchen, and you vowed never to repeat that pattern. Or perhaps your fear of disappointing a parent who withheld their approval and affection from you now fills you with anxiety at the thought of anger and rejection with your spouse. Unfortunately, as you ignore conflict, resentment builds. The same disagreements crop with increasing intensity. Eventually, the trust and intimacy in the relationship erodes significantly. 

Handling conflict well begins when we acknowledge that, properly handled, conflict is not only inevitable, but it is an opportunity for deepening intimacy together, each maturing as a person. For that reason, don’t avoid disagreements and don’t gloss over problems. Rather, agree that as a couple you will approach disagreements understanding they are an opportunity to work together and in so doing, to grow closer together as a couple, and to mature as Christians.

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Kathleen Notes: Conflict is normal and necessary in human relationships. It`s how we handle it that`s important. Done well both people can learn, resolve the problem and strengthen the relationship.

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Love and Power

Although many people associate power with manipulation and coercion, contemporary psychologists and philosophers have forged a new power paradigm: They view power as the capacity of an individual to influence others’ states, even to advance the goals of others while developing their full self. It doesn’t require observable behavior, let alone force.

If a woman is as influential as her partner is, then a relationship lasts, says John Gottman. But if he’s much more influential than she is, the relationship doesn’t last. For the dean of relationship researchers, an “interlocking influence process” is at the heart of a balance of power. “It’s really about responsiveness to your partner’s emotions. If you have power in a relationship, you have an effect on your partner with your emotions. That’s a good sign for the long-term stability of the relationship and the happiness of the partners. But some people have very high emotional inertia; they weigh a lot emotionally; it’s hard to move them.”

And responsiveness to a partner is what makes a relationship feel fair, says Gottman, professor emeritus in psychology at the University of Washington and head of Seattle’s Relationship Research Institute. Housework and childcare chores don’t even have to be divided 50/50 to establish equality in a relationship. “A relationship has to feel fair. And that requires flexibility and responsiveness to emotions. People try to get their partner’s attention or interest, or open a conversation or share humor or affection. We look at what proportion of the time a partner turns toward such a bid or a need. The turning towards needs to be at a very high level.”

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Kathleen Notes: I think this article takes us back to how God sees both men and women. Equal yet different...I like that!

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10 Steps to Setting Healthy Boundaries

Setting boundaries doesn’t come easily or naturally to a lot of people, but  you can learn to set healthy boundaries.  I’m going to share ten tips that I find helpful.

In my last post, What Are Healthy Boundaries and Why Do I Need Them?, I told you about my friend Chris who struggled to set boundaries with his neighbor. Chris’ experience demonstrated that we need boundaries in all of our relationships, and that boundaries establish expectations and communicate how we want to be treated.

Examples of Boundaries:

  • Karla and Mark have two young children. Mark’s parents have a new dog that seems aggressive, and he doesn’t feel comfortable with the dog around his kids. Mark tells his parents that their dog isn’t welcome at his house and he will not bring his kids to their house unless the dog stays in the garage.
  • A roommate agreement (the concept isn’t as ridiculous as it seems on The Big Bang Theory) that identifies expectations about cleaning, food, and noise.
  • Telling your boss that you can’t work late tonight.
  • Having a personal policy of not loaning money to family members.
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Kathleen Notes:Boundaries go hand-in-hand with a secure sense of self. Often a person needs to work on that before healthy boundaries become possible.

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The Common Difference between Single Men and Women

During a recent sermon, I got a few laughs of recognition when I described what I see as a huge difference between Christian women and men who are looking to get married. Of course there are many exceptions, but quite often I see this:

A Christian woman is in a serious relationship with a man when she recognizes some warning signs and red flags. Her first instinct isn’t to “run,” it’s “How can I make this relationship work?”

When I talk to Christian guys, however, it’s often comically the reverse. They are dating an attractive, healthy, personable, funny, intelligent, godly and wise woman who earns more money than they do. When I ask when they plan to pop the question, their response is often, “I can see all those qualities, but what if there’s someone even better out there?”

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Kathleen Notes: This causes many women to accept the unacceptable with the idea that she can "fix" him. In the other case, if men are looking for "the one" that`s perfect, she doesn`t exist.

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5 Ways To Nurture Yourself while Nurturing Your Child

No matter what our child does, it`s our response that determines the weather in our home. If you`re finding yourself frequently resentful, depleted or exhausted, if your mind chatter often includes negative thoughts about your child, or if you`re yelling at your child on a regular basis, you may be suffering from what I call SAP Disorder -- Sacrificing yourself on the Altar of Parenthood.

That`s when we forget to give ourselves the loving attention we need. It isn`t good for us to feel deprived. It kills our natural joy. And it isn`t good for our kids, who end up with a resentful, negative, impatient parent. (Guess whether that helps them behave better.)...

.....That can seem impossible, when at any given moment there are so many demands on your time. The solution is to tend to ourselves as well as we can each moment of the day, just as we do our child. To honor both our needs and theirs. How?

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Kathleen Notes: I really like this article because it helps to answer the seemingly impossible question: how to give your child AND yourself what you need. Remember that you can`t pour from an empty cup.

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Letting Go and Sticking Together

Stuck together

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

The 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.

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Kathleen Notes: Here`s how it works: God first, then your spouse, then everyone else...yes, that includes parents, children, friends, etc.

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8 ways you can master self-care without spending a dime

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."

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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.

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Moving the Body to Heal the Mind

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:

  • More energy and stamina
  • More endurance
  • Reduced stress 
  • Enhanced mood
  • Calmer mind
  • Better sleep
  • Higher self esteem
  • Sharpened thoughts and memory
  • Weight control
  • Better heart rate
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Kathleen Notes: For more on this topic, I highly recommend the book "Spark" by John Ratey.

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Unrealistic Expectations Almost Destroyed My Marriage

Entering marriage with such high expectations set my husband and me up for ruin. For example, trusting in my husband to be my everything was one of the most detrimental ways I hurt our marriage. I set my husband up for failure when I expected him to fulfill me completely.

When I wanted to feel worthy, I sought my worthiness in my husband. When I wanted to feel loved unconditionally, I sought love from my husband. When I wanted to feel comforted, cherished, validated, or encouraged, I sought those things in my husband and only in my husband. However, because my husband is human and prone to sin, inevitably he let me down and could not fulfill my needs completely. And in those times, I felt unworthy and unloved.

While some expectations are good—for example, I expect my husband to be faithful to me—when they move into unrealistic and unattainable places, they become destructive. My expectations were so lofty they hurt him. Aaron could never be my everything—he was never designed to be! And whenever I tried to make him fit that role, I unintentionally placed him as an idol above God, believing that he had the capacity to do more for me than God Himself.

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Kathleen Notes: I think many people enter into a marriage relationship expecting their spouse to "complete" them. A human being can ever do that, but a relationship with Jesus can.

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Big Boys Don’t Cry: The Emotionally Neglected Man
A new study by Spalek et al., 2015 provided new evidence of how men and women process emotion differently. Men’s brains are less reactive to emotion, and men remember emotional images less well than women. This makes emotional responsiveness and validation from parents extra vital for boys. Boys who don’t receive enough grow up to be baffled by all things emotional.

Children are highly adaptive creatures. Boys who grow up this way do what is needed to get along in their family home. They push their own emotions and needs down and away, so that they will not be seen or felt. As men, they live their lives virtually walled off from the most intensely personal, vital part of who they are, their emotions.

If you are a man and you see yourself in these words, or if you are a woman and you see someone you love here, do not despair. There are answers.
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Kathleen Notes: I often feel like society isn`t very helpful in the messages that we send to boys and men. Accessing both the "logical" and emotional intelligence helps men to be more responsive to the roles that God has given them.

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Does your own childhood affect your parenting?

But often it`s our thoughts and attitudes, which means the way we`re interpreting the situation. So where one parent might respond to a child`s rudeness with quiet dignity and curiosity about why the child is so upset, another might get triggered, assuming that defiance is dangerous and needs to be quashed.

We don`t even notice such beliefs, which are usually unconscious and were often shaped in early childhood....
....But any time the memory was so upsetting that your brain wasn`t able to process that memory as usual, the memory was stored unprocessed -- with all the emotions you felt at the time. That`s why when you experience something similar to that event -- maybe not in actual content, but in the way it makes you feel -- you are suddenly swamped with body sensations that are an over-reaction. Those feelings aren`t actually from the present experience. They are stored with that earlier unprocessed memory, which is getting triggered by the current experience.
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Kathleen Notes: The answer is yes...in fact your childhood affects your entire adult life because it is foundational to who you are.

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Getting Help for Grief, Loss, and Bereavement

Each experience of grief is unique, complex, and personal. Grief may concern the death of a loved one, or it could involve a life change such as divorce or job loss. Your culture, personality, and experience can all affect the grieving process. Therapists will tailor treatment to meet your specific needs. 

For example, therapy may help you maintain healthy connections with your lost loved one. Many people find catharsis while talking about their loved ones. Reflection on positive memories can strengthen your bond with the lost person. As you reaffirm your bond, you may feel less sting from your loss.....

....Children often look to their guardians for how to grieve. If an adult hides their sadness, a child will likely try to do the same. When adults talk about their emotions, children can learn to recognize and accept the feelings in themselves. Adults can teach healthy ways to cope with strong feelings, as opposed to withdrawing or lashing out.

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Kathleen Notes: Grief is so unique from person to person, treatment must also be individual to be effective and healing.

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Reframing Your Story

Imagine your life is a book and you are the author.

Certain plot points are predetermined: your bipolar diagnosis, say, or a trauma in your past. But as the narrator of this tale, you get to explain and interpret those events—for better or worse.

If the story now is all about shame, sadness and feeling stuck, you get to create a different, more compelling version where you’re a hero and your future is full of promise.

That’s the idea behind narrative therapy, a collaborative approach to counseling based on the premise that we human beings construct stories about our experiences in order to give our lives meaning—and therefore, that we can deconstruct those stories to change that meaning.

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Kathleen Notes: How would you change your story?

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Continuing the Date

I remember fondly the period of dating my wife. I remember going to pick her up and stopping at the store to pick up flowers. I would swing by the coffee shop and buy her a gift card because she loved their drinks. One day she came down with a nasty cold that put a stop to our plans for the day. But it did not stop me from seeing her or spending time with her. I stopped by the store and picked up chicken soup, soda, crackers, and tissue, and I hung out with her at her house. 

It is not unusual to show affection and appreciation towards someone we care about during those dating years of getting to know one another. The relationship is new and interesting and we are eager to spend time and get to know one another. We desire to show the other person that we sincerely care for them. We desire to help when they are in need, show love when we can, and make them feel good throughout it all. So what happens when we get married and the newness of the relationship wears off? Why do some of those loving dating behaviors seem to fall to the wayside?

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Kathleen Notes: Date night doesn`t have to be pricey...embrace cheap fun!

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Four Tips for Handling a Difficult Family Member
Few people can hurt us as much as the people closest to us. Usually, that’s family. Most people have at least one family member who is verbally brutal, judgmental or just plain thoughtless.  Unfortunately, when we react to the rude comments these people make, our reaction can easily make us look worse than them.....
...The worst thing you can do is let a critical or verbally brutal person hurt you. If you prepare yourself in advance, stay calm, and say something assertive, you will appear unscathed and will earn the admiration of all those around you. Then, when you go home, think it over and remind yourself that this person is attacking you because of his or her own weakness. Don’t take it in. Be Strong.
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Kathleen Notes:...and who doesn`t have at least one difficult person in their family....?

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3 Steps to Healthy Emotional Regulation

It often appears that perceptions of truth define reality in the sense that our learned beliefs about self and others become so ingrained that they often go unchallenged and take on a life of their own. Such may be the case with our emotions—they may be categorized as good or bad, negative or positive. By categorizing emotions in this way, we may consciously or subconsciously attach more value to some emotions while negating, minimizing, or avoiding others.

This selective approach to categorizing emotions has far-reaching effects on how we deal with a wide range of emotional content, including our ability or willingness to accept what feels uncomfortable. By seeking out so-called “good emotions,” we may neglect uncomfortable or painful emotions including worry, fear, frustration, anger, rage, bitterness, resentment, sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness, to name a few.  It can be argued that establishing a dichotomy or differentiation of good vs. bad emotions inhibits emotional and mental health.

Much is known about the deleterious effects of stuffing one’s emotions, and the same can be said about the harmful effects of burying uncomfortable or painful emotions. In order to establish good emotional health, all emotions must be given a voice. Keeping in mind this framework of viewing the entire range of emotions with equal value or validity, we can now explore three steps to emotional regulation.

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Kathleen Notes: Good mental health is all about emotional regulation. Emotions are normal, helpful and never, ever right or wrong. They just are. It`s what we think, say and do about those emotions that can be wrong or sinful.

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The Benefits of Being a Patient Person

As virtues go, patience is a quiet one.

It’s often exhibited behind closed doors, not on a public stage: A father telling a third bedtime story to his son, a dancer waiting for her injury to heal. In public, it’s the impatient ones who grab all our attention: drivers honking in traffic, grumbling customers in slow-moving lines. We have epic movies exalting the virtues of courage and compassion, but a movie about patience might be a bit of a snoozer.

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.

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Kathleen Notes: Yup, but what if you`re NOT a patient person? Read on for strategies to help cultivate patience and reap it`s benefits.

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Seven Steps to Speak Your Uncomfortable Truth
From time to time, we all find ourselves in a tough spot. Something looks wrong or feels wrong, and we need to say something difficult. Something painful that may hurt someone we care about, but which nevertheless must be said....
.....

Many people in these situations choose the last option. Sometimes it feels easier and kinder. Unfortunately, that is typically the worst choice. Uncomfortable truths seldom disappear on their own. And they have far more power to hurt when they remain unspoken.

If you grew up in a family that discouraged frank discussion, emotional expression, or honest discourse (this is Childhood Emotional Neglect, or CEN), having a conversation like this may feel simply wrong to you. And even if you do decide to speak your truth, you may not have been able to learn the emotion skills you need to do it right.

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Kathleen Notes: Difficult emotions become easier to handle when spoken about. It`s when we wall them off that they get bigger...and uglier.

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Here’s Why ‘Repair Attempts’ Are Even More Powerful Than Saying ‘I’m Sorry’

In romantic relationships, "I`m sorry" is often a dramatic event that takes place at the end of a long and painful journey—after a fight where we can`t take back the hurtful things we said, after weeks or even months of withdrawing from our partner emotionally, or after just one snide comment. But it`s doesn`t have to be that way. This is where "repair attempts" come in. A way to mediate regret and hurt, this might be your best strategy for healthy conflict.

By the time you say ‘I’m sorry,’ the damage is already done.

Happy couples have to say "I`m sorry," and they say it a lot. But instead of saying it after the damage has been done, happy couples say it to prevent the relationship disaster in the first place.

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Kathleen Notes: It`s worth the effort to show your spouse that you really mean that apology and are willing to put some effort into making things better.

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Life Skills: Teaching Children Empathy

“Love one another, as I have loved you”

Parents spend much time and energy teaching children social skills for living. We teach them manners, to say “please” and “thank you.” We teach them hygiene, to brush their teeth and wash their hands. We teach them diligence, to do their homework, to do their chores. We teach them skills, to tie their shoes, to drive a car, to dress for a job interview. Throughout their lives, we are modeling and teaching countless techniques as building blocks of life. 

A skill everyone needs

Yet there is one skill that is necessary in every phase and every situation in human life, yet parents often overlook it or are unsure of how to teach it. That skill is EMPATHY, or the ability to perceive, understand, and share the feelings of others. It is simply wondering and caring about another`s experience. As 1 Corinthians 12:26 describes this skill, if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Teaching children empathy results in their increased capacity to see the face of Christ in others. Children who cultivate the skill of empathy are more respectful, thoughtful, and kind. Empathetic children are less likely to bully, and less likely to tolerate bullying behavior in others.

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Kathleen Notes: Brene Brown says "sympathy is `poor baby` while empathy is `me too`." What a gift to teach to your children!

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Relationships 12 Little Ways You Can Support A Loved One Who Has Anxiety

Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million adults in the U.S. in a given year, making them the most common mental health condition.

If you don’t struggle with anxiety yourself, chances are that someone in your circle, a partner, co-worker, friend or relative does. So how do you support a loved one who may be dealing with this condition?

It can be hard to figure out what’s truly helpful when certain comments ? even well-intentioned ones ? sometimes do more harm than good. That’s why we’ve asked people living with anxiety to share the words, gestures or other forms of support that mean the most to them.

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Kathleen Notes: Anxiety is very common. Here`s some ideas to help.

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How To Change Your Child`s Behavior -- Without Punishment

That doesn’t mean we renege on our responsibility to guide our children by setting limits. No running into the street, no hitting the baby, no peeing on the carpet, no picking the neighbor’s tulips, no hurting the dog. But we don`t need to punish to set or hold such limits.

Are you wondering how your child will learn not to do these things next time, if you don’t “discipline” him when he does them? Then you’re assuming that we need to punish children to "teach a lesson."....

.....That`s not really surprising. If your boss criticizes, yells, humiliates, or docks your pay, does that make you want to follow his lead?

Being punished erodes the parent-child relationship so kids don`t want to follow our lead. It makes the child angry and defensive. It floods them with adrenaline and the other fight, flight or freeze hormones, and turns off the reasoning, cooperative parts of the brain. Kids quickly forget the “bad” behavior that led to their being punished; they just go on the defensive. If they learn anything, it’s to lie so they can avoid getting caught. Punishment disconnects us from our kids so we have less influence with them. Quite simply, punishment teaches all the wrong lessons.

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Kathleen Notes: Yes!!! There is a HUGE difference between discipline (to teach)and punishment (making people pay for having a problem). No one is EVER motivated to change through criticism and kids are people just like adults.

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How To Prevent Emotional Neglect In Marriage

How do you prevent Emotional Neglect in your marriage? Fortunately, it’s quite easy.

But unfortunately, it’s also easy for Emotional Neglect to take over your marriage, leaving one or both partners feeling empty and alone. All it takes is for one or both of you to grow up with it in your family.

When Emotional Neglect happens in a marriage, it doesn’t look the same as other relationship problems, like conflict or fighting. Instead, it’s more likely to look like nothing.

Failing to notice when your partner is upset.

Failing to ask, “What’s wrong?”

Refusing to answer when your partner asks, “What’s wrong?”

Ignoring the problems between you in hopes they will go away on their own.

Avoiding conflict.

Keeping your festering anger to yourself.

Failing to notice or respond to your partner’s emotional needs.

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Kathleen Notes: Often emotional neglect starts with the child in their family of origin. As people, we tend to "do" relationships as we experience and see them in childhood. Later this manifests itself in marriage.

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11 Things That Will Help You Hold Space for Someone
Holding space for someone in emotional pain is a concept many people are not familiar with but have nonetheless felt it, on some level, at some point. Holding space, or creating a container, can be especially helpful when someone is in deep grief, struggling with unresolved trauma, or in the throes of depression. We’ve all had the opportunity to feel the clear and pure attention of unconditional positive regard or the emptiness of its absence in a time of profound need.

So, what does it mean to “hold space” for someone? If needed, how does a person actually do this? The answers to these questions are quite simple in theory but complex in practice.

At one time or another, someone in our lives will need a space held that is loving, nonjudgmental, and empathetic. When that time comes, the relationship you already have will provide a foundation for building this so-called “container” in which you hold space for the other person. If you accept the challenge, your desire to be of service to the other person will be the first building block for holding that sacred space.

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Kathleen Notes: Being with someone in their pain while giving unconditional support and regard....

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Recess Is Not A Luxury: Here’s What Happens When Kids Sit Too Long At School
After years of schools reducing recess time and teachers using the threat of taking away recess as a disciplinary tool, experts are tsk-tsking them for doing so – and it’s about time. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recently issued a comprehensive set of strategies for recess that highlights the benefits of recess and reminds parents and educators that recess shouldn’t be optional, nor should it be taken away as a punishment.
Not only is recess fun, but it serves a critical function in the learning process. Unfortunately, in recent years, many schools have been cutting recess time to keep up with stricter academic demands – with disastrous results. Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist who first wrote about the recess deficiency problem in the Washington Post in 2014, warned that when children are constantly in the upright position – as they are these days – they have an underdeveloped vestibular system (which is really just a fancy way of saying “balance”).
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Kathleen Notes: Long time readers know that this is a major issue in my opinion. Schools need to function for the benefit of the children, not the other way around. Sitting in a desk for 7 hours a day is unnatural and harmful for the developing mind, body and emotions.

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Fixes For a Foggy Brain

Deb of Canton, South Dakota, has grappled with memory problems for a long time. Names, appointments, even special events like her children’s birthdays—they all drift off to some Never-Never Land.

Of course, plenty of people have trouble finding their keys, keeping ahead of things at work, and remembering to pick up the dry cleaning. Yet researchers now know that glitches in recall, planning, and staying on task can be part and parcel of bipolar disorder. A growing body of evidence identifies what are known as “cognitive deficits” that predate diagnosis and persist through all mood states.

Luckily, there are ways to exploit modern technology and old-fashioned techniques—programming alerts into your smartphone, organizing your work space, choosing a spot to always keep your keys and wallet—to compensate for brain fog. For especially severe symptoms, it may be worth exploring rehabilitative training.

Deb’s mood swings have been well-controlled for the past eight years, but she still relies on workarounds for her forgetfulness and lack of focus.

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Kathleen Notes: Some good stuff here...

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Curb Your Yelling with 3 Steps

“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” —Dr. Bruce Banner

Remember the story of The Incredible Hulk? Scientist Bruce Banner accidentally exposes himself to lethal doses of gamma rays, and his DNA is restructured. Afterward, in times of anger or extreme stress, the otherwise mild-mannered doctor morphs into a raging green monster known as The Incredible Hulk.

Dr. Banner desperately tries to control his rage and prevent the transformations so he won’t harm others; unfortunately, he fails. In the 82 episodes of the original television series, Dr. Banner transforms into the Hulk in every single one. As a parent, you may relate to the struggle to contain your anger… I know I have....

.....You may recognize that once the anger seeps in and the yell creeps up to your throat, it’s a battle to keep the scream from exploding out. And after you yell? Of course, you feel awful, maybe even ashamed; you vow it will never happen again; however, somehow, much sooner than anticipated, your inner Hulk rears its ugly head again.

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Kathleen Notes: I don`t know who said it first, but I like the expression, "Raise your words, not your voice."

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How to Treat Insomnia: a 3 Point Checklist

We all need sleep… let’s rephrase that! – we all need quality sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people who have sleep problems are more likely to go on to develop psychiatric problems than people who sleep well. No surprises there. Furthermore, chronic insomnia can impact health by compromising the immune system.

The right make up of sleep (around 25% REM sleep to 75% slow wave sleep) stabilizes the workings of neurotransmitters in the brain which determine mood and motivation and emotional stability during the day. Sleep is a central pillar on which your mental and physical health rests.

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Kathleen Notes: This article is geared toward counselors and therapists, but you don`t need to be one to benefit from this article. Do you struggle to get enough sleep? take a look...

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3 Daily Rituals That Stop Spouses from Taking Each Other for Granted

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.

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Kathleen Notes: How would marriages be different if we never stopped the courtship?

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5 Ways ADHD Could Be Affecting Your Relationship
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:

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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.

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Dressing for Marriage: A Morning Ritual

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.

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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

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Why self-compassion is more important than self-esteem
Self-compassion isn’t just about comforting yourself when something doesn’t exactly work out the way you’d hoped it would. As Neff notes, self-compassion is also about defining your worth differently by seeing yourself — along with your triumphs, failures, strengths, weaknesses, and emotions — as normal and part of a common humanity.

In other words, self-compassion involves removing judgment of yourself and others from the equation. Instead, aim to cultivate a mindfulness to keep your emotions from getting bigger or smaller than they should be. As a result, you’ll be able handle feedback and setbacks with more resilience because there is no pressure on you to be superhuman all the time. Sounds nice, right?


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Kathleen Notes: As one of the girls that I used to nanny for once said: "Everybody makes mistakes".....

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You can’t love too much: How secure attachment helps kids thrive

One of the most common questions I am asked about relationships is whether a child can be too attached to his or her parents. There is a general fear and persistent myth that if we focus on building relationships with our kids, we may hinder their grow as independent and self-sufficient beings. There is a paradoxical relationship between attachment and separation, which is often misunderstood.

The short story is this: Attachment doesn’t slow down growth, it fuels it.

When you consider the big picture, the ultimate goal in raising a child is to help them become their own separate person. We should want them to have their own mind, set their own goals, form their own reasons, make their own decisions, think for themselves, know their boundaries and create their own intentions. What we really need to be asking is: What do we need to do to make sure our kids grow like this?

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Kathleen Notes: I cannot overstate the importance of this topic. It impacts children through adulthood and all through the human lifespan. If this is missed in childhood, it` very difficult to repair (although not impossible).

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Mindful Movement to Ease into Sleep
If you’re one of the 80 million Americans having a hard time falling asleep, count yourself among the ranks of those more likely to suffer from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression (As if being tired all the time wasn’t bad enough)........
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While we wait for the research community to provide more definitive answers, it seems it’s definitely worth giving mindful movement a try if you have trouble sleeping.

In part three of our mindful movement series with Cara Bradley you can try a bedtime routine that stretches and relaxes areas of your body that tighten up during the day, such as low back, hip flexors, and upper back muscles, followed by a meditation to settle the mind.

Before you begin, get yourself ready for bed (because you’ll be sawing logs before you can say good night.)

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Kathleen Notes: Many people have a hard time falling and/or staying asleep. Why not give mindfulness a try? No side effects....

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Why Can Bipolar Disorder Make Me Mean and Nasty?

When I was finally diagnosed at age 31, I still didn’t understand how the illness affected my behavior. I had to write my own treatment plan in order to get better. I wrote down all of my behaviors and eventually determined what was the real me and what was the bipolar disorder. The mean and nasty Julie was ALWAYS the illness. Even now, it’s a terrific challenge to keep my thoughts to myself when the negative mood swings are raging.

For 15 years I was a #@$%*!  Nothing was ever good enough. I lived in Japan for three years and I complained about everything for three years. I can’t believe that people put up with me. It was awful, and now I feel I wasted so much time in that interesting country due to my anger and irritation.

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Kathleen Notes: With Bipolar disorder, mania can often be experienced as irritability. Developing awareness of moods and emotional challenges can become part of a prevention plan to help head off and manage mood swings.

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5 Ways to Help Children Silence Negative Self-Talk – Shrinking The ‘Critical Critter’

Somewhere, inside us all, hides the CRITICAL CRITTER – a rather scary, hairy and un-fairylike creature. The Critical Critter is fed on a diet of negative self-talk and unkind, unsupportive words from others. Each time we chew on harsh and unjustified criticism, it’s like giving the critter another burger to munch on. 

And then, one day, we notice that the Critter has grown – and started throwing it’s weight around. In fact, the Big C is bossing everyone in the brain house; bullying them, even. You see, the Critter is making frequent visits upstairs to tell the thinking characters that they’re wasting their time. 

Not content with that, this dastardly doubter is also lurking downstairs and telling Fearsome Fred that he’s right to panic and flip the lid, because it’s all going to go wrong. And when it does, insists the Critter, Fearless Fred will be to blame because he’s useless. We. Are. Useless.

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Kathleen Notes: Helping children to dispute the "critical critter" when they are young keeps the fully grown "critic" from taking over in adulthood.

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Is Male Emotional Intelligence More Responsible for Successful Relationships?

The difference between men and women is that the latter tend to form an association with someone else’s feelings. For men, the situation is entirely different as their brains tend to sense the feelings for a very short period of time and then get distracted.

Women hold feelings more important than other things whereas only a limited number of men can be termed as truly sensitive. Gottman’s research discovered that only 35 percent of the men were emotionally intelligent, which means that they cannot easily empathize with emotions and feelings of others.

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Kathleen Notes: The good news is that emotional intelligence can be enhanced. Since many men tend towards being problem solvers, this is something that you can make better!

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You’re Not Alone: 10 Things Your Therapist Has Likely Heard Before
Some statements are made in psychotherapy with regularity. While every person’s reasons for seeking counseling are unique to them, there are similarities in the thoughts many people have as they consider reaching out for help and as the counseling process unfolds. My hope is that recognizing these thoughts as familiar will serve as encouragement to those who are on the fence about beginning therapy.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Every...single...one.

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Learning to Trust Again After Gaslighting
Gaslighting is in the news these days. In simple terms, to gaslight is to treat another person in a way that makes them doubt their own perceptions. We can see this behavior on a large scale with a manipulative politician who demands acceptance of his falsehoods, as well as in the very personal realm of the intimate relationship, when one partner’s narcissistic needs create the conditions and terms for partnership.

A woman under the sway of such a person—narcissism isn’t gender-specific, but I use a woman-man relationship here for narrative purposes—faces a difficult challenge in her attempt to break away. She may be told her version of the story is false and that she is wrong, even stupid, to believe it. She may be derided and condemned in proportion to the depth of the narcissistic wound experienced by her tormentor. She may depart with only one thing: her quiet hope that breaking away from this man will be better than staying, no matter how unimaginable and unpredictable the future might seem.

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Kathleen Notes: The battle is in learning to trust your own self. Don`t be surprised if there is some resistance to this idea from others, especially the gaslighter.

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Class clowns: Playful boys viewed more negatively than playful girls, study finds
Study confirms gender differences in how teachers perceive playfulness — and provides insights into the potentially damaging effects of discouraging playful behavior in the classroom.....
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The data revealed that the playful boys were stigmatized by their teachers, which was communicated through verbal and non-verbal reprimands. The other children in the class picked up on this message, which had a direct impact on their perception as “class clowns.”

“Teachers view class clowns as problematic and strive to stifle or extinguish their playfulness,” says Dr. Barnett, who argues that these negative perceptions were likely transferred to the playful boys and their peers.

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Kathleen Notes: In schools, rambunctious boys are often seen as "defective girls." Every child needs to be seen and heard for who they ARE, not who we want them to be. From there we can teach and they can learn.

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‘How Does That Make You Feel?’ Why Your Therapist Is Asking
It’s one of the most important questions in therapy. It’s stereotypical. Sometimes, it’s disruptive. It can lead to anxiety and self-examination.

And it’s not going away.

Your therapist asking you what you’re feeling is a staple of most forms of counseling, and for good reason.

What you do with the question can begin to free you.

Yes, we all know therapy is about feelings. Before any of us stepped into a therapist’s office, we probably saw a cartoon, TV show, or movie in which a therapist asked the person sitting across from them: “How does that make you feel?”

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Kathleen Notes: My husband hates this question...so do some of my clients. How you feel matters more than you might be willing to admit.

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Crafting God’s Arrows

In Psalm 127:4, you will find an amazing statement about your child. Many of us know of the previous verse, in which we are told, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” That’s a nice, warm, safe verse.

But then look at verse four: “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”

Think about those words. The psalmist refers to your child as an arrow—a weapon! And that is no mistake.

God has great plans for your child. Arrows are not meant to be kept safe in the quiver. He wants you to eventually release that arrow to make an impact on our world with the love of Christ. And guess who gets to be the primary “crafter” of the arrow?

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Kathleen Notes: GREAT article, the arrow analogy is so fitting!

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Get Thee a Flawed Wife

To the single men who are considering marriage and feeling hesitant, I issue this invitation from Elisabeth Elliot’s Let Me Be a Woman: You do not marry a ministry partner; you marry a person. You do not marry someone like another man’s wife; you marry your wife. You do not marry someone like you; you marry a unique woman. And you do not marry someone perfect, you marry a sinner.

The same goes for women in their search for a husband. After marriage, you are not committed to your call more than you’re committed to the person, husband, man, and sinner before you. Nowhere in Scripture is “pastor’s wife” the attribute of a godly, good wife, nor is “deep theologian” the attribute for a husband. The only four qualities we need to understand in our search for a spouse are littered throughout the Scriptures and true of every married person on earth.

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Kathleen Notes: "Men and women are distinct. We do not marry someone with our own gender inclinations. We marry the Other, with different proclivities, different drives, different ways of processing, and different appetites. Judging a potential spouse based on our own way of doing things is recipe for disaster. Instead, we’re called by God to embrace the distinctiveness of the Other, the complementarity of marriage, and the difficulties that come with that complementarity." Lore Ferguson Wilbert.

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3 Practical Principles for Disciplining With Grace

The message of God`s grace is one that we need to apply to parenting, especially when it comes to discipline. Parenting our kids with grace is parenting them the way God parents us — with grace. Through Jesus, God has made a way for us to become His beloved sons and daughters. He offers us His love and favor because of who He is and Christ`s sacrifice on the Cross, not because of who we are or what we do.??

Following the example of the Ultimate Parent is the best chance we have to raise children who understand God`s grace. It`s hard to do, though. Thankfully, God accepts us as we are, but He doesn`t leave us that way. The greatest challenge we face as parents is disciplining our kids the way God disciplines us — with overwhelming love that puts their needs ahead of our own.??

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Kathleen Notes: Our Heavenly Father is the example to follow. Remember that as a parent, you also need grace and forgiveness: first from God and then from yourself. Parents do the best they can with what they have.

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Rebuilding Trust: a million tiny bridges

The passage of time is our greatest ally when building trust; and I don’t mean the merciful forgetfulness of years going by. I mean right now, within moments of a breach, we introduce the cleansing power of the future.

The renowned psychologist John Gottman ties the building of trust to what he calls attunement?—?made here into a clever acronym:

Awareness
Turning toward
Tolerance
Understanding
Non-defensive responding
Empathy

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Kathleen Notes: Want or need to rebuild trust with someone you care about? Check out this article.

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Phrases That Kill Intimacy

Here’s what I mean…

If you ask someone important to you, “How are you doing today? ”

And they respond, “I’m really feeling stressed. ”

What would you typically say next?

Would you tell them:

You’ll feel better tomorrow.

I was stressed last week, too. Let me tell you what happened…

You’re always stressed!

You may mean well by being reassuring. You may not intend to be dismissive by reminding them how often they complain. When you change the subject toward yourself, maybe you’re just trying to “relate. ”

But when someone tells you how they’re feeling and you either dismiss, minimize or change the subject, what you’re really doing is essentially (although unintentionally) communicating:

I’m not interested in you or how you’re feeling.

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Kathleen Notes: Relationships are about connection. Why would you connect with someone who can`t or won`t attune with how you`re feeling? I think people don`t mean to but they run away from strong and uncomfortable emotions. Read on to learn how to overcome the problem.

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The Day I Realized I Was Bullying My Kids

Yelling wasn’t effective teaching.  Yelling didn’t get my point across, nor did it even make me feel better – it made me feel worse.

I had heard my son describe yelling like “being hit”  before.  Here was another analogy for me to reflect on.  My yelling and annoyed/angry voice was a big Put Down on my kids, and like most put downs they came from a place of not feeling great myself. I’d been tired, lonely and a little sad – those were MY emotions, but instead of taking care of myself, I had been taking out my emotions on my kids,  bullying them because I felt bad.

The tough part is that sometimes kids are….well, really annoying. and button pushing. and limit testing.  And sometimes life happens – you don’t get a break, family tragedies unfold, the dryer breaks, the dog pees on the carpet, you lose sleep.  Sometimes you get into a dark parenting rut, and that’s where I was.  I didn’t really even want to connect with my kids.  I just wanted a break, but one wasn’t coming soon and my kids still needed me.

They didn’t need my Put Downs.

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Kathleen Notes: This Mom came up with some great ideas to change the way she responded...check it out.

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Real Men Are Warriors Who Protect

One of my favorite quotes, attributed to British politician Edmund Burke, is “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” When evil invades a man’s life and marriage, his children’s lives, his work, and his community, the easiest thing for him to do is nothing.

As a husband and father, you are the warrior who has been charged with the duty of pushing back against the evil that seeks to prey on your wife, daughters, and sons. If you don’t step up, who will?

When you think of protecting your family, perhaps the first things that come to mind are keeping your house locked, or holding on to your child’s hand on a crowded sidewalk, or investigating a strange sound downstairs in the middle of the night, or teaching your children about what to do if the house is on fire. But as I’ve looked at my responsibilities as protector at home, I’ve realized that they go further.    ...more

Kathleen Notes: Our society needs more of these warriors, not just to protect but to train the next generation of men to also become warriors!

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Kill The Spider

I define a “spider” as an agreement you’ve made with a lie. A cobweb is a medicator that brings false comfort to a lie.

We all have cobwebs. We all have spiders. But here’s the good news: We have all been filled with the same power that rolled the stone away on the third day. Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible’” (Matthew 19:26).

You CAN kill the spider.

I share my story to give you hope to face the spiders with the power of the God who makes the earth spin and float. Because with God, everything is possible.

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Kathleen Notes: I knew there was a good reason why I`m afraid of spiders...

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‘Helicopter’ Parenting May Harm Kids’ Self-Control
Many parents feel anxious about their kids’ safety and are eager to help their kids succeed. Others feel pressured to conform to cultural norms and track all aspects of their children’s development. A strong connection to parents can help kids feel supported and loved. Yet overprotective “helicopter” parenting may harm kids.....
.......The study’s authors say when parents “protect” children from all hardships, they keep children from learning necessary skills. If parents always stop a child before they make a mistake, a child may not learn how to restrain their own impulses. Children who have all their problems solved for them may not learn how to soothe themselves. These skills (or lack thereof) can have far-reaching effects on child well-being.
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Kathleen Notes: Children benefit from something called "scaffolding" : parents help only when needed and just enough so that the child acquires the needed skill. This promotes both the parent-child relationship while building self-efficacy, which is the basis of good self-esteem.

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Becoming a Better Spouse through Union with Christ

God made everything and is everywhere, which includes being with us at all times. Actually, it is even better than that! He promises that when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, Jesus actually takes up residence within us. In baptism we die with Christ and are resurrected with Him (Romans 6:4-6). That can only happen if He is one with us, in us. Miracle of miracles! Then we are told that we are seated with Him in heavenly places, which means we are with Him where He is seated at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:19-20, 2:6-7). Scripture teaches God is near, yet some days it doesn`t feel that way. 

Nothing Can Separate Us from Christ

I have known all the scriptures about unity with Christ for a long time, but I recently heard an example that moved the knowledge from my head to my heart and produced a major paradigm shift in me. Suppose you have a glass of water. It is just water. Then suppose you put several tea bags into the water and let it sit for a while. We all know that the water will become saturated, united with the tea, and it would be very difficult to separate the tea from the water.  As well, the tea bags will become saturated with the water. I am no longer water, but Christ-infused tea, so to speak. We would be hard pressed to remove the tea from the water. Romans 8:35-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Further, assuming that the glass is clear and clean, the tea would be quite visible to others. However, if the glass was dirty or cloudy on the outside, the tea would be hidden. I am changed by Christ, and have to let it show.

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Kathleen Notes: God made us to be relational beings: in relationship with Him and with others, in particular our spouses.

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3 Ways to Harness Your Brain’s Power & Change Your Life

Between psychology, medical science and neuroscience, we have never known so much about the human mind. Recently I’ve been amazed at the number and quality of studies which are showing us the amount of pure power our brains have; powers that are truly amazing. Powers that change the meaning of the old phrase, “put your mind to it.”

Here are a few of my favorite discoveries of what our brains can do:....

.....As a psychologist whose business is helping people change, I am not surprised by these findings. Every day I see people harness their brain powers to make profound changes in their personalities, their relationships, and their lives.

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Kathleen Notes: God gave us amazing brains!!!

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Our Fixer-Upper Marriage
I’ve been obsessively watching HGTV shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers lately. I love watching the home transformations. From finding hazardous electrical situations to dire foundation issues, taking on a fixer-upper is not for the faint of heart.....
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Marriage is a lot like a fixer-upper.

A big difference is that if I go into marriage with a wish list of items that I want to change about my spouse, I’m setting myself up for disappointment. The only person I can hope to change in my marriage is me. And the only one who can make those changes is the God who invented marriage in the first place.

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Kathleen Notes: "God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change; the courage to change the one that I can; and the wisdom to know that it is me......

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You’ll Be Happier If You Let Yourself Feel Bad
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.”
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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.

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Relaxation Coping Skills - Activities to help kids calm down at home and at school

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.

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Kathleen Notes: Self care is for kids, in fact childhood is where we best learn it!

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Where You End and I Begin: An invitation to healthy boundaries

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 in relationships. 

Your most 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 healthy way.  

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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,

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Helping Children Take a Mindful SEAT to Calm Down
It took me years of mindfulness practice to truly understand the promise of present moment and why it is a helpful place to hang out. As an anxious teenager, I can vividly recall how, in the face of a looming exam, my mind would sometimes spiral into self-defeat. A typical thought stream might look something like: “I’m going to fail this test, then fail out of school, never get into college, probably die homeless and alone under a bridge, and no one will come to my funeral…” But when I practiced mindfulness and staying in the moment, I realized that I could still prepare for the future, like just studying for the darn test, without getting caught up in story of how badly it could go. The future is where anxiety usually resides, for both adults and kids. Think about it: Most of the horror stories we tell ourselves are about events that haven’t even — and probably will never — happen! Mark Twain even once said “I’ve experienced many terrible things in my life… only a few of which actually ever happened.”   ...more

Kathleen Notes: S is for Senses and Sensations, E is for Emotions, A is for Actions, T is for Thoughts. By the way, this skill is not just for kids...

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Classroom Sensory Tricks
If you have ever received a note from your child’s teacher or a phone call saying your child seems to be disconnected from the class and isn’t grasping concepts, you may not know exactly what is happening to your child. Why are they acting out? Why are they fidgeting in their seat? Why can’t they focus? Even if your child is pulling good grades, but still has trouble in school, it can be hard to know exactly how to help your child. We all want our children to succeed in school to the best of their ability, but the truth is, not every child learns the same.
There are so many factors that can hinder or advance our child’s learning in the classroom. For some students it is a matter of the sensory input they are receiving while learning.  There are students who receive too much sensory input and need to get that energy out, while there are others who don’t receive enough sensory input.
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Kathleen Notes: Classrooms often have a "one size fits all" approach, and it`s easy to understand why. But just a few tweaks can often make the difference academically, emotionally and socially for many children.

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What Do EMDR, Running, and Drumming Have in Common?

How do walking, running, and drumming factor in? Think about it for a moment. When you walk, run, or drum, you are using your body in a rhythmic way, alternating the stimulation or use of your right and left brain throughout the activity. Have you ever gone on a hike or run and felt that you were sorting through your thoughts, developing new insights, or becoming less distressed about something? We know that exercise has many benefits; EMDR highlights for us some of the mental and emotional benefits.

There are a million ways to alternate right- and left-brain activation, including dance, yoga, and some tai chi moves. People have naturally gravitated toward right-left movements in many healing rituals across the world. Think of how many sacred rituals involve drums, movement, or voyages on foot. Understanding brain integration, plasticity, and resilience gives us some insight into why these rituals have been effective and why they continue to be passed down through generations.


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Kathleen Notes: Bi-lateral brain stimulation! By the way many activities fit the bill, see if you can find one that you enjoy.

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Caring for Your Introvert

What is introversion? In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say "Hell is other people at breakfast." Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn`t antisocial. It isn`t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: "I`m okay, you`re okay—in small doses."

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Kathleen Notes: Ontrovesion is not a dysfunction or something that needs a cure. It`s all about where your energy comes from.

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My Big Flaw: I’m an Impatient Mom

Here we are again, all buckled in and driving down the road. I’m at the wheel. My two girls are behind me strapped in their car seats. The music playing on my Christian radio station is uplifting, but my heart—it’s heavy. I’m weighed down by my own actions, not five minutes before.

Getting ready and out the door is a chore, as any mom of littles will tell you. No matter how much extra time you allot yourself, it’s never enough. It seems those last 10 minutes before leaving are pure and utter chaos.

It never fails. Somebody poops right as I step out the door. Did I get the paci? Oops, I forgot to water the dog.

It’s enough to drive someone mad—at least if that someone is me.

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Kathleen Notes: Parents do the best they can...good to know it`s not just me...

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New research helps to instill persistence in children

Encouraging children “to help,” rather than asking them to “be helpers,” can instill persistence as they work to fulfill daily tasks that are difficult to complete, finds a new psychology study.

The research, conducted by a team of New York University scientists, suggests that using verbs to talk about actions with children, such as encouraging them to help, read, and paint, may help lead to more resilience following the setbacks that they inevitably experience rather than using nouns to talk about identities—for example, asking them to be helpers, readers, or artists.

The results run somewhat counter to those of a 2014 study that showed asking children to “be helpers” instead of “to help” subsequently led them to help more.

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Kathleen Notes: Makes sense that using verbs in place of nouns would encourage action. I wonder if there is a similar study with adults? Hmmmmm.

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10 Strategies For Coping With Childhood Emotional Neglect

With your emotions walled off, you go through your adolescence and adulthood lacking full access to a potent, vital ingredient from within: your emotions, which should be motivating, directing, connecting, stimulating, and empowering you.

When you are living this way, it’s hard to see the problem, or even that there is a problem. Most children in emotionally neglectful homes have no idea that anyone should be noticing their feelings, validating them, or responding to them. Then, when they grow into adults, they continue to have no idea.

Yet as an adult who grew up with Emotional Neglect, you surely may sense that something is not right with you, but you do not know what it is.

Once you understand that you missed out on a key element of childhood, you are finally freed up to fix the problem. You can give yourself what you never got — emotional attention and validation — and learn how to connect with your feelings and how to use them.

Childhood Emotional Neglect may leave you feeling somewhat empty and disconnected, lost or alone. But good news! There are powerful things you can do to cope.


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Kathleen Notes: Recovery from CEN involves attuning to your emotions and needs, helping to finish the parenting you didn`t recieve.

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To Be Happy, Fail and Try Again

Nick Offerman, actor and woodworker, grew up working on his family farm in Illinois. During this time, he learned to enrich his own life through hard work, instead of relying on modern comforts—a philosophy he continues to practice today.

In this video from BigThink, Offerman shares three lessons on happiness that have carried him through life.....

....He paraphrases a speech from author Neil Gaiman, who said: “If you make mistakes, it means you’re out there trying. It means you’re taking a swing at achieving something. And if you’re not making mistakes, it means you’ve given up…”

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Kathleen Notes: My clients will tell you that I embrace and encourage making mistakes. Knowing that it`s OK to fail helps people to move towards self-acceptance and a great way to learn things!

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Surviving Arsenic Hour
Every parent knows arsenic hour, when hunger, homework, and exhaustion merge into one big emotional accident waiting to happen. One obvious reason that kids have meltdowns at the end of the day is that they`re hungry and tired, whether they`ve been home with you or out at school. But there`s another reason. After having spent the day apart, your child feels disconnected from you. Until he reconnects, he`ll let you know how alone he feels by acting ornery and uncooperative.
There`s another reason that kids who are at daycare or school all day lose it when they`re reunited with you. It`s hard work for little people to keep it together all day in the face of all those developmental challenges, disappointments and rules. All day, they store up big feelings they can`t process, waiting to be safe with Mom or Dad to let those emotions fly. This is true even if they love daycare or school and beg you to pick them up later. It may be fun, but navigating all those people is still stressful. So the minute they see you, their "executive self" relaxes, and their "baby self" comes out to seek comfort. Be ready to be emotionally present for your kids, focus on connecting with them, and you`ll stave off some meltdowns and set a pleasant tone for the evening. It all starts with you.
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Kathleen Notes:"Arsenic Hour"...not just for children anymore. Home is our "soft place to land" and is often where all of the junk of the day also lands.

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When the Narcissist Becomes Dangerous

In many ways, it seems like it would be fun to be narcissistic. Wouldn’t it be great to go through life feeling superior to other people, and with unwavering self-confidence? Yes!

But as we all know, there is a dark side to narcissism. That unwavering self-confidence is as brittle as an eggshell. Narcissists don’t move back and forth on a continuum of self-esteem as the rest of us do. Instead, they run on full-tilt until something taps that protective shell of self-importance hard enough. Then, they fall into a million pieces. Under that fragile, brittle cover lies a hidden pool of insecurity and pain. Deep down, the narcissist’s deepest and most powerful fear is that he is a nothing.

With his brash, self-centered ways, the narcissist can hurt the people around him emotionally, and often. His deepest fear is of being exposed as “a nothing.” So he will protect his own fragile shell above all else, even if it sometimes emotionally harms the people he loves the most.

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Kathleen Notes: People with narcissistic tenancies not only lack a strong self of self but also boundaries. It becomes necessary to have strong boundaries in addition to empathy in order to protect yourself and others.

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Be a Strength-Based Parent

Blame it on our brains. Our “negativity bias,” an ancient survival mechanism, hardwires us to spot problems in our environment more quickly than we spot the things that are going well. I call it the Dirty Window Syndrome: A clean window doesn’t attract your attention; you look straight through it. But a dirty window is something you notice. What’s more, your focus on one specific part of the window—the dirt—means you’ll often fail to see that the rest of the window is still clean and showing you a beautiful view.

It’s the same with our kids. When things are going well, we take it for granted; but when things are going badly, that spot of dirt on the window snaps our attention into sharp focus. The dirt, in my case Nick’s gaming, grows from a small spot to a big stain. It gets magnified, overshadowing our kids’ positive qualities, thus creating the perfect storm for conflict and for feeling anxious about their future. A useful evolutionary feature that keeps you and your kids safe from danger can be counterproductive to fostering a positive relationship.

The good news is that by learning how to shift your attention to your child’s strengths (the clean part of the window), you can override the negativity bias, clean the dirt, and prevent the problems from getting blown out of proportion—all while building up resilience and optimism in your children.

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Kathleen Notes: No one is ever motivated by criticism to change their behaviors. However, when heartfelt appreciation is applied to positive behaviors, stand back and watch them grow!

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Ten Steps to Learn Self-Discipline

Here’s a brief recap of last week’s article, Self-Discipline Season Has Begun: 

  • Struggling with self-discipline is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw
  • Self-discipline is made up of two parts: making yourself do things you don’t want to do, and stopping yourself from doing things that you want to do.
  • Each of these two parts is a skill, nothing more and nothing less.
  • Since self-discipline is a skill, it can be learned!
  • In the best-case scenario, we learn these skills from our parents, when they discipline us throughout childhood.
  • Many parents, even those with the best intentions, fail to teach their children this skill well enough (an aspect of Childhood Emotional Neglect).
  • If you did not internalize the Two Skills of Self-Discipline in childhood, you can teach them to yourself as an adult.
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Kathleen Notes: The follow up article to this week`s first article. Here`s where you can learn how to gain those skills.

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The 3 Most Tragic Childhood Emotional Neglect Symptoms In Adults

Just as the cause of all of these struggles seems simple — your parents didn’t respond enough to your emotions as they raised you — so also seems the solution.

You grew up with your feelings ignored, and now you must do the exact opposite. You can start right away simply paying attention to your feelings.

Take the time to notice when you are feeling something, learn how to name what you are feeling, and begin to learn how to use your feelings to inform, direct, motivate and guide you.

When you do the work, you get to reap the rewards. You will gradually start to know yourself, get what you want, and let your light shine.

And all that’s actually happening is that you are becoming more authentically your true self, and that is everything.

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Kathleen Notes: Awareness and attunement to your emotions is the answer. People with CEN are often unaware or avoid their true feelings as something bad or wrong.

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Kids are sleep deprived and it`s affecting their development

Late bedtimes, nighttime awakenings and early wake ups all reduce a child’s chance of getting a full night’s sleep. And while some kids have sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, they’re the minority, says Shelly Weiss, a pediatric neurologist who directs the Sleep/Neurology Clinic at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. “It’s definitely more related to lifestyle,” she says.

Wendy Hall, a registered nurse and sleep expert at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, says more often than not, something in the kid’s environment or routine is getting in the way of them sleeping enough. “Things like not having regular household routines, not reinforcing bedtimes and screen use—not just in the evening but during the day—all affect sleep,” says Hall.....
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What’s more, our busy modern lives aren’t designed with sleep in mind. Parents’ workdays are getting longer, which means dinner is pushed later into the evening, as is bedtime. Homework and activities eat up those precious post-dinner hours. One-year-olds entering daycare are often forced into a one-nap-a-day schedule before they’re ready; in some provinces, three- and four-year-olds are in full-day kindergarten programs when they really still need an afternoon nap. Some kids are up early to catch bus rides to school, and you know the coach who schedules a 7 a.m. hockey practice isn’t thinking about whether your kid is getting their recommend nine to 12 hours of sleep. “As a society, we’ve come to the conclusion that, for some reason, sleep is discretionary,” says Hall.
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Kathleen Notes: As a society we`re short on sleep so of course our children are too. Overcoming this problem is worth the effort as it effects a child`s mental, emotional, social, and physical development crucial for a healthy life and adulthood. Let`s take this seriously.

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Stay-At-Home Moms Are Still Equal Partners
My husband would agree that I am every bit an equal contributor to our family. Maybe I don’t offer much in the way of finances, but there is more to running a household than providing money. In fact, the contribution of money is really not the most important thing when you factor in all the other things it takes to raise a family....
.....If we truly want equality, then we need to recognize the value in unpaid work and the important contributions of that unpaid work. I may not get paid to stay home with my kids, but in doing so I have contributed to our family as a whole, and my children will grow up knowing how important it is to look at contributions not in terms of how much money they make from it, but in how much it benefits their family and their community.
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Kathleen Notes: Respect...the hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world...

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The Anatomy of an Emotion

Emotions are tricky things. They come in a variety of sharpnesses and intensities, but there are no instructions on what to do with them or how to make sense of them. Emotions such as fear, anger, shame, or guilt can be like un-invited dinner guests that won’t leave even after you started turning out the lights! Emotions such as love, joy, and peace can be like an unexpected bouquet of flowers, showing up on a day when you thought all was lost. 

Emotions are messengers. They have something to say to our body, soul, and spirit about how we`re doing as a person. Before you can really hear the voice of the emotion and discern its message, it helps to understand the origin of the emotion.

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Kathleen Notes: I often use the analogy of a broken leg...what do you notice? Pain, swelling, bruising, etc. all tell the person that there is something going on that they should pay attention to. Emotions are like that.

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You Know What Will Ruin My Kids?
Toddlers need order. They crave it.  You might be ruining her brain with this mess.

You should get rid of more toys.

You should be telling her a story.

You should get the boys on a better schedule.

You should have made them clean up before bed.

You should have brushed her teeth, not let her do it on her own.

You should teach them better money sense.

You should make them write thank you notes more quickly.

You should eat dinner at the table every night.

You should.

You should.

You should.

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Kathleen Notes: Yeah....don`t be so focused on the "shoulds" that it makes you feel stuck.

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How to Stop Misophonia From Ruining Your Relationship
Misophonia, sometimes called selective sound sensitivity syndrome, is sensitivity to specific sounds. Some common triggers include eating sounds such as chewing, throat sounds, nasal sounds such as a person blowing their nose, and repetitive noises such as tapping or clicking a pen.

While it is a potentially challenging symptom, misophonia is not a mental health diagnosis. A 2015 study of more than 300 people with misophonia found that only 2.2% had a mental health condition.

Misophonia can be extremely distressing both to the person with misophobia and their loved ones. It can cause conflict in relationships and make it difficult for couples to go to certain public places. In addition, sensitivity to the sounds a romantic partner makes may be hurtful and feel overbearing or critical.

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Kathleen Notes: Is this you or someone you love?

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The Right Brain Develops First ~ Why Play is the Foundation for Academic Learning

Did you know that the right brain develops first? It does so by the time children are 3-4 years of age. The left brain, on the other hand, doesn’t fully come online until children are approximately seven years old; hence the first seven years being recognized as such a critical period in child development.

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein

The left brain’s functionality is one of language, numeracy, literacy, analysis and time. It is the logical, calculating, planning, busy-bee part of us that keeps us anchored in the pragmatic world, and in past and future. The right brain, on the other hand, is responsible for empathy, intuition, imagination and creativity. It is where we wonder, dream, connect and come alive. Through the right brain we dwell in the space of no-time, in being absolutely present. While the left brain is more interested in outcomes or product, the right brain cares much more about process—the journey is what matters, not the destination.

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Kathleen Notes: Another reason why play therapy is so effective with children. The author make s a great point: "Being is primary; hence the right brain developing first; hence, human being, not human doing."

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Bruce Springsteen opens up about his battles with depression: `I know I am not completely well`
Springsteen also spoke about his late father, Doug Springsteen, who wrestled with his own demons and was diagnosed with schizophrenia later in his life.
"All I do know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier ... much heavier," Springsteen went on to say. "With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher. ... Long ago, the defenses I built to withstand the stress of my childhood, to save what I had of myself, outlived their usefulness, and I`ve become an abuser of their once lifesaving powers. I relied on them wrongly to isolate myself, seal my alienation, cut me off from life, control others, and contain my emotions to a damaging degree. Now the bill collector is knocking, and his payment will be in tears."
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Kathleen Notes: I applaud the courage it takes to be open about mental health struggles from "the Boss". The above quote is not only powerful, but accurate.

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Love the One You`re With: Nurturing your child`s unique temperament

All children are born with a distinct temperament. As parents we can’t control this raw material, but we can try to give our children the environment that will best help them to make the most of their potential.

Let`s take, for instance, the trait of shyness, which geneticists believe is greatly influenced by our genes. Shy kids are at a disadvantage in our outgoing, busy culture, because they’re highly sensitive to stimuli and have a harder time relaxing and connecting with others. But shy baby chimps given to extremely nurturing mothers became leaders in their group, while their shy siblings raised by average mothers remain shy and fearful throughout life. The responsive mothering helps the shy chimps learn to calm themselves and manage their reactions, while their heightened sensitivity makes them more responsive to the needs of other chimps and better at negotiating group situations. What a perfect example for parents of the interaction of genetics and environment.

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Kathleen Notes: Help them to grow where (and how!) they`re planted!

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12 Tips To Raise a Competent Child
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.

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Kathleen Notes: Feeling effective is also the basis of healthy self-esteem. Somehow we got that message messed up in the past.

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The Tyranny of Relentless Positivity

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.

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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.

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A Child’s Respect is Bestowed, Not Extracted

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.

That kind of respect eludes controlling or authoritarian parents. Preoccupied with commanding deference, some parents fail to recognize that a child’s respect is always something bestowed, not extracted. Thus, they end up forfeiting the opportunity to remain credible influences on their children in favor of levying control, which is a poor and costly approach to relationship building. After all, the ability to control one’s child is always time-limited: kids grow bigger, grow up. It was this feeling of losing control over her 12-year-old son, Jack, that brought Donna in to see me.   ...more

Kathleen Notes: Punishment doesn`t work...attunement does. When confronted by a behavioral problem, seek a relational answer.

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The Incredible Benefits of Family Routines Around Mealtime and Bedtime

Sleep and food are among the most basic essentials of life. Yet why does it seem that bedtime and mealtime are the most hectic time of the day with kids? This year, you probably made some kind of resolution to eat more home-cooked meals or read to your kid more or maybe just get more organized in all aspects of life. Well, it all starts with establishing—and sticking with-routines.

Establishing basic routines, including spiritual customs, play a role in helping family members feel calm, peaceful, and secure. Think of your home as an oasis against stress: no matter what is going on in the outside world, our most personal and intimate space (the home) can be a safe haven.

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Kathleen Notes: Routines can actually help with that feeling of hectic-ness. When kids know what to expect words like "dinner time" or "bedtime" give them a greater ability to transition smoothly. Plus, it`s a way to make great memories...

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Don’t Be Fooled by Smoke and Mirrors: 12 Traits of Truly Authentic People
Let me paint a picture for you.  The average member of today’s society has become immersed in technology, navigating life behind the confines of computers and smartphones, and learning more and more how to disregard reality.  Not only that, we have developed an ability to sit in a crowded room and mentally “check-out” unaware of what is going on around us, our attention captivated by the digital device in front of us.  This is how we communicate in the 21st century....
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This poses a real and significant problem for younger generations who reportedly prefer texting over face-to-face communication.  The same holds true for many adults who find it easier to communicate online, choosing their devices over in-person meetings.  Furthermore, more and more people are choosing to work remotely providing even less opportunity to socially engage with others face-to-face, thus promoting a more solitary lifestyle.

In a world of increased narcissism and a decreased capacity to effectively read people, how can we discern genuine, authentic people from narcissistic manipulators?  Even more, how can we challenge our perceptions and not automatically believe the artificially perfected information that is presented in our newsfeeds?

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Kathleen Notes: Modern technology and in particular social media, allows people to hide out...who they really are, to isolate or to think they are actually connecting when in fact, they are not.

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The Case for Putting My Wife Before My Children

To be honest, we’ve had this rule for as long as I can remember. We’ve been parents for nearly 15 years now, and there has never been a time where our children were allowed to dominate ALL of our time in the course of the day. They dominate a lot of it, mind you, but not all of it. We love our children and we consider our role in their life to be a huge investment. We committed a long time ago to be there for them and to always be hands-on and involved in their lives.

But, there’s still us. There’s still our relationship. There’s still the health of our marriage to consider and pay attention to.

We have some big reasons why this is so important to us. Here are a few …

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Kathleen Notes: God first, Spouse second and Everyone else (including children) comes Third. This works...

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Spring Break Activities for Families
Breaks from school are a great time to do things together as a family. Here are some activity ideas for your family to do during spring break:

Family Game Tournament....

Get a Discussion Going....  etc...

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Kathleen Notes: A few good ideas for intentional relationship building over spring break this year...or anytime.

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From Blame to Responsibility: Taking Ownership of Your Problems
I, like many other people, grew up in a less-than-ideal environment. The circumstances got in the way of my personal development. At the same time, that environment contributed to and shaped the person that I have become....
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Blame outsources solution and responsibility. It is often used to divert attention from ourselves, and hands control over our life to something or someone else. As such, blaming and condemnation only create pain and breed resentment and further anger.

The tendency to blame is driven by our inability to foresee a better way of dealing with a distressing situation. We tend to blame when we are in distress because it allows us to preserve the self-satisfying narrative of helplessness/victimhood and self-righteousness. We excuse our shortcomings as the result of other people’s wrongdoings or actions.

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Kathleen Notes: It comes down to this: what is in your control? What isn`t? If it`s in your control then take responsibility. Don`t like something about yourself or your circumstance? If that`s difficult, find a counselor who can help.

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Teen Tells Bullies In Video: `Every Day, I Wear Your Words`
The vicious words some kids hurl at their peers stick. Kalani Goldberg, 13, drove that point home in a video that illustrates the lasting power of bullying. As melancholy music plays in the background, the Phoenix-area eighth-grader sits alone, her T-shirt covered with adhesive-backed notes that convey some of the terrible things kids said about her — that she`s "ugly," a "loser," a "waste of space" and worse.

"Every day you say these things about me," Kalani begins.

"I`m a sister, I`m a daughter, I`m a person and I have feelings," she concludes. "Every day, I wear your words. Every day, it hurts. Every day, you are hurting me. Every day, you are hurting each other. I don`t want to wear your words anymore. So please stop. Stop hurting me."

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Kathleen Notes: A brave and intelligent girl....I hope people heed her words. The damage done by bullying is immeasurable.

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How one couple saved their marriage by asking each other a simple question

The Salt Lake City, Utah couple said their vows when they were 21 years old. They had unreal expectations about love, says Evans. He says their relationship soon unraveled over petty power struggles. Years later, it had gotten to the point where they barely acknowledged each other, he says.

“I loved her, I knew I loved her, she loved me,” Evans tells NBC BETTER. “We just didn’t know how to make it work.”

Then, one day while taking a shower, Evans broke down and cried. He had an epiphany: He couldn’t change his wife, but he could change. The next morning he asked his wife a simple question: “How can I make your day better?”

“It was a matter of humility,” says the 55-year-old. “It was a matter of saying ‘OK, I will do whatever it takes to make this work.’”

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Kathleen Notes: What is in your power to make things better? A powerful article about the power of taking positive and unselfish action.

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Redefining Success

“Success” is an interesting word. No matter how often I tell myself success isn’t about winning, winning sure does feel like success. I want my kids to be the best they can be, and it does feel good when they come home with the top trophy. Yet “Success” in those terms doesn’t feel or sit right. What if in "winning" they belittle another? What if in "winning" they become arrogant or afraid to fail? Then winning is not a success. 

God`s Definition

Seeking to be the best I can be should be about developing my gifts and the gift of others. Note God’s definition of success in Jesus words from Matthew 20:25-28:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
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Kathleen Notes: What does success mean to you and your family? How does it compare to God`s definition?

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Why Do I Feel This Way? Over-Coupling and the Stress Response

Over-coupling involves the parts of the brain known as the limbic system, or our emotional/threat response, and the reptilian brain, which is in charge of body regulation. When these systems perceive a potential threat, they go into a stress response. Trauma can occur when that threat feels overwhelming or bigger than our ability to effectively cope with it, and the energy from that stress response gets stuck in our systems, under the surface. The unconscious layers of the brain and body want to avoid any situation like that ever happening again. So when something feels similar to the big, bad thing that happened in the past, our reptile brains lock into the same threat response as the previous time. This happens whether or not the logical mind is aware of any similarity between the previous and current situations.

That is over-coupling. Like a creaky old suit of armor, it’s meant to protect us, but what it really does is get in our way, preventing us from freely living our lives.

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Kathleen Notes: I`ve not heard this phrase before but understand the response very well. I know it more as a trauma response and the evidence of a healthy brain.

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10 Telltale Signs That You Are Emotionally Numb

Consider this. Would you rather live a life filled with ups and downs, joy and sadness, frustrations and pride and surprise? Or a life that goes along, one day after another, with few disruptions or changes or shake-ups?

Choice 1 might seem scary; a little like a roller-coaster ride. On the other hand, Choice 2 might seem a little disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong, they are both mixed bags. The roller-coaster can deliver some shocks to the system, and it can be hard to sometimes feel that you are not in control of everything in your life. If you are living without the emotional disruptions and shake-ups, you may feel “safer” and more in control of things, but you may also find yourself feeling bored and unstimulated.

As a psychologist, I have come to realize that people living in the Choice 1 scenario are typically overall happier. That’s because if you are on the roller coaster, you are living life in a more powerful way. You are more connected with your emotions, and so you are probably far more fulfilled.

Choice 2 is a sign that you are disconnected from your feelings. Probably you grew up in an emotionally neglectful family. Probably you learned at an early age that your emotions were irrelevant or burdensome. Probably you have walled off your feelings as a coping mechanism.

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Kathleen Notes: Does this seem familiar? Counseling can help...really.

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Three Simple Ways Parents Can Practice Self-Compassion

But there’s an alternative to that harsh self-talk: self-compassion. According to researcher Kristin Neff, “self-compassion provides an island of calm, a refuge from the stormy seas of endless positive and negative self-judgment.” As she defines it, self-compassion entails three components:

“First, it requires self-kindness, that we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental.”

“Second, it requires recognition of our common humanity, feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering.”

“Third, it requires mindfulness—that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it.”


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Kathleen Notes: When you speak to yourself as a friend might talk to you you help to "fill your own cup". Remember, you can`t give what you don`t have!

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Why Every Home Needs a Calm-Down Corner
You might be inclined to put your kid in her room until she can calm down. But that`s giving her a message that her emotions are shameful -- not allowed in your house. What you really want is for her to learn that emotions are just part of being human, that she can notice and accept them -- and learn to express them in constructive ways...
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But here`s the most important thing to know about a Calm-Down Corner. If you send your child there, it feels like banishment, and your child will react just as she would to a "Naughty Step." No child wants to be sent away to calm down. That feels like a rejection.

So always go with your child, so she develops positive associations to the Cozy Corner. In fact, don`t wait until your child is upset. Go to the cozy corner for quiet times so your child gets used to this space as a soothing place to be, where the activities feel calming. 

Then, when you get upset, model going to the cozy corner to calm down! Of course, your child can come with you.

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Kathleen Notes: The Calm Down Corner is for everyone!!! This is a fantastic way to teach and reinforce emotional regulation skills.

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3 Red Flags You’re About to Make a Decision You’ll Regret
We make decisions every day, throughout the day. In fact, we make so many decisions we often don’t even see them as decisions. Decisions we’ve made over and over eventually turn into habits. Although we often think of habits as bad, it’s important to see them as a set of decisions that simply don’t need much, if any, conscious thought to perform them. Brush our teeth. Put on our shoes. Eat breakfast or skip it. All of these mundane tasks are still choices, still decisions we make.

All too often, we make decisions based on faulty information, peer pressure, and impulsivity. In this article, I’d like to highlight some red-flag behaviors that increase our chances of feeling regret about our decisions. I’ll also offer some suggestions on how to avoid these red flags.

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Kathleen Notes: Good article on how to slow down the emotional part of your brain and apply knowledge and judgement.

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6 Qualities of an Encouraging Parent
What is encouragement and why is it so essential for maintaining healthy marriages and families. Encouragement represents positive influence, to literally give courage to someone—not waiting until it`s deserved or asked for, but taking initiative when things are difficult and uncertain. There are many synonyms one could use: to give support, confidence or hope to another; to hearten, cheer, uplift, inspire, motivate, vitalize, embolden, or rally. The impact can be far reaching and often makes a difference when relationships begin to falter. Even the neuroscience gives credence to this dynamic. Criticism and negativity release harmful stress hormones, inhibit concentration, diminish the brain`s executive functioning, and tend to create knee-jerk reactions vs. calm and rational thinking. 

The Bible provides a wonderful example of a life fully lived under this principle. His name was Barnabas and there are several lessons we can draw from his story. Here are six worth considering:

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Kathleen Notes: This list is great for parenting and all forms of relationships...

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Jumpstart Your Mindfulness Practice in 5 Breaths
I talk to a lot of people about meditation—a lot. A lot of people tell me “I’ve tried it, I know I should do it; I can’t stop my mind from thinking. I’ve got such a busy mind. What can I do? How can I do it? I can’t find the time.”...
.... When our bodies are calm, when our nervous system is balanced, those neurosynapses will be more steady or be calmer, more settled.

So we meditate and we can meditate, FYI, by walking in rhythm, by swimming, by gardening, by sitting down, and following your breath. Meditation simply means to become familiar with your state of being in this moment.

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Kathleen Notes: Just a few deep breaths can help you body to send the message to your mind that you are OK.

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Get Your Mind and Body Out of Crisis Mode

When we are faced with a stressor, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, it involves a change to which we must adjust: the new baby, job, relationship, death, and sickness, to name a few. Stress itself may not be the issue but rather its chronicity and severity, our relationship to it, as well as what we do when stress shows up. Humans must necessarily adapt psychologically, socially, biologically, and environmentally. And we are nothing if we are not problem solvers. But even too much problem solving can result in burnout.

Symptoms of burnout, according to The Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual, used by researchers as a measure for long-term occupational stress, include:

  • Emotional exhaustion – Emotionally overextended and exhausted by work or life. This is common for people in the helping professions when they reach a point where they feel no longer able to give of themselves.
  • Depersonalization – Negative, cynical attitude, or treating others ?as objects. We can begin to see others as deserving of their problems. This view is particularly tied to emotional exhaustion.
  • Sense of low personal accomplishment – Feelings of incompetence, inefficiency, and inadequacy. People feel unhappy and dissatisfied with themselves and their performance. This can lead to “learned helplessness” and “chronic bitterness.”
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Kathleen Notes: Some great information to help you manage your stress!

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How to Be Yourself When You Have Social Anxiety

Contrary to popular belief, writes Hendriksen, what socially anxious people fear most is not judgment by others in and of itself, but that the judgment is right and correctly exposes their hidden flaws or frailties—a process she calls “The Reveal.”

“We think there is something wrong with us, and we avoid in order to conceal it,” she writes. “In our minds, if The Reveal comes to pass, we’ll be rejected, humiliated, or exposed.”

These “Reveals,” she writes, come in four flavors:

  • Worry about the physical symptoms of our anxiety, like sweaty shirts or shaking hands.
  • Worry that we’re unattractive, or that there’s something weird about our bodies or clothes.
  • Worry about our personalities—that we’re not cool, funny, smart, adequate, or competent.
  • Worry that whatever we say to someone will be seen as awkward, boring, or overly emotional; or that we’ll forget mid-sentence what we want to say.
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Kathleen Notes: Greater self compassion, some cognitive behavioral therapy to dispute those pesky cognitive distortions and acceptance of your authentic self is the ticket!

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The Secret to My Marriage

There are several ways you can practice grace in your marriage. It’s not complicated, and to be honest, it’s not even a mystery. You simply have to find in your heart the desire for grace in your home. For the believer, the more you work at it, the more natural it becomes.

First, practice forgiveness. It’s true that there are consequences to actions. Sometimes actions are so severe they have to be stopped in order to have a healthy marriage—things like abuse, infidelity, illegal activities. A marriage is not going to be healthy with these kinds of despicable deeds.

Even in these cases, however, forgiveness is possible.  Forgiveness is not blanket permission for a person to treat you any way they want to, but you shouldn’t become embittered. Take action. Stop the problem. But don’t hang on to the desire for revenge. Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”

In most marriages, however, the major problems are the typical issues of life—miscommunication, differences in financial responsibility, things that are said in the heat of anger or frustration, unintended hurt feelings, or sensitivity in times of stress. This is where forgiveness can make or break a marriage.

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Kathleen Notes: Repentance(turning away from the sin), Forgiveness (as God forgives us) and Grace (undeserved kindness) are the ingredients for a GREAT marriage.

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Try these two smart techniques to help you master your emotions

What I’m describing is emotional granularity, the phenomenon that some people construct finer-grained emotional experiences than others do. People who make highly granular experiences are emotion experts: they issue predictions and construct instances of emotion that are finely tailored to fit each specific situation. At the other end of the spectrum are young children who haven’t yet developed adult-like emotion concepts and who use “sad” and “mad” interchangeably. My lab has shown that adults run the whole range from low to high emotional granularity. So, a key to real emotional intelligence is to gain new emotion concepts and hone your existing ones.

Perhaps the easiest way to gain concepts is to learn new words. You’ve probably never thought about learning words as a path to greater emotional health, but it follows directly from the neuroscience of construction. Words seed your concepts, concepts drive your predictions, predictions regulate your body budget (which is how your brain anticipates and fulfills your body’s energy needs), and your body budget determines how you feel. People who exhibit higher emotional granularity go to the doctor less frequently, use medication less frequently, and spend fewer days hospitalized for illness. This is not magic; it’s what happens when you leverage the porous boundary between the social and the physical.

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Kathleen Notes: We`re back to gaining awareness of and naming emotions. Really, there`s no substitute for this. You can`t fake this one.

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What is Self-Regulation? Definition, Theory + 95 Skills and Strategies

It can refer to self-control by a wide range of o