Archive for: The Process of Change

Your Hot-Button Emotions

Good or Bad?

Is anger a good emotion or a bad emotion? The answer is Yes!

Angry Woman on Phone

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Boys Will be Boys!

We are pleased to have a guest post from Soraya Chemaly, reprinted here with her permission from The Huffington Post.

For months, every morning when my daughter was in preschool, I watched her construct an elaborate castle out of blocks, colorful plastic discs, bits of rope, ribbons and feathers, only to have the same little boy gleefully destroy it within seconds of its completion.

Boys fighting

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The Princess on the Glass Mountain

A number of years ago my therapist friend, Dr. Jimmye, asked the members of a group she was conducting to do a re-write of a fairy tale. Group members were to write themselves into the story and then change the ending to whatever would underwrite their hopes and dreams. Dr. Jimmye wrote about the story of the princess on the glass mountain.

The original tells the story of a beautiful princess with a highly-protective father. Daddy, who took great pride in the beauty of his little-girl-becoming-woman, perched her atop a glass mountain. Knowing that the glass was very smooth and slick, daddy intended to discourage would-be suitors. Alas, this precluded Miss Princess from partaking of the full joys of life.

Princess on Glass Peak

When Dr. Jimmye re-wrote the story, she played the Magical Princess, who felt that her level of education may have put her at arms-length, preventing her from meeting the man of her dreams. In her re-write, her Prince Charming flew in his aeroplane from the peaks of his Glass Mountain Range, landing neatly beside her before swooping her into his arms and carrying her off to his castle where they would Live Happily Ever After.

Dr. Jimmye has a delightful imagination. But now for the rest of the story. . .

About a month after Dr. Jimmye had put herself into this magical tale, she got a phone call from a man she had dated years earlier. They had both gone on to marry someone else, but he had never forgotten her. This Man was calling from Denver, smack dab in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. He had three questions for her.

  1. Are you married?
  2. Are you engaged?
  3. Are you dating anyone?

When she gave him her three ‘No’ answers, he said, “I’ll be right there.”

He hung up the phone, jumped in his aeroplane and, carrying her in his heart, he soon landed in Spokane, rented a car, and forthwith appeared on her doorstep. He took her to the nicest restaurant in town (which at that time happened to be out of town, at Patit Creek in Dayton), wooed her, asked for her hand, and moved into her heart.

. . . the takeaways?

  1. Don’t be afraid to dream!
  2. Accept life on its own terms!
  3. Live in gratitude!


Further Reading

I recall–from classes I have taken along the way–the section at the end of the syllabus noted, “For Further Reading…”

When I have been particularly taken by an idea or a method of relating to others, to family, to the world around me, or to my Creator, I will sometimes ‘research the research’ and at times find a virtual treasure trove of titles that send me off in other slightly different directions.

One of the best things I know is to curl up with a great book in some conducive setting, and enter another world. . .

Hammock Girl Reading

So here are a few books I have known and loved. . .

1.  His Needs, Her Needs – Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, by Willard F. Harley, Jr.; Revell

2. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver; Three Rivers Press

3. Pre-Parenting – Nurturing Your Child from Conception, by Thomas R. Verny and Pamela Weintraub; Simon & Schuster

4. Parenting from the Inside Out – How a Deeper Self-Understanding can Help You Raise Children who Thrive, by Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell; Tarcher /Penguin

5. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, by Daniel G. Amen; Three Rivers Press

6. Belonging, by Nancy and Ron Rockey with Kay Kuzma; Sycamore Tree

7. Forgiveness – Breaking the Chain of Hate, by Michael Henderson; Arnica Publishing

8. Bold Love, by Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman,III; Navpress

9. Unbreakable Bonds, by Cheryl Meier and Paul Meier; Baker Books

10. Connecting, by Larry Crabb; W Publishing Group / Thomas Nelson, Inc.

So jump right in, readers! Curl up in a sunny nook with a cup of tea and fall in love with a new fave book. May one of these titles bless you as well. Bon voyage!


Trauma, trauma, kiss a llama!

Have you ever listened to children’s nursery rhymes and wondered where they came from? Well. . . I was thinking the other day about this poor traumatized llama, and I found myself wondering—what qualifies as trauma? So off I went to where I learned that trauma is ‘an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.’


Generally, we think of trauma as an extreme injury or a shocking event, in spite of the fact that we all have many small snippets of psychological injury or pain woven throughout our lives.

So what’s the bottom line?

The most sustained impact of traumas—large or small—is the fact that these painful experiences leave behind a residue of beliefs—about ourselves, others, the world, God. Often these beliefs are pretty profound—they sink in deep—and very often they skew our view of ourselves, our world, each other.

So how does this work?

If you are a toddler and you are watching as mama hits daddy (or the reverse), you begin to believe the world is not safe and this can establish a strong fear base for dealing with the world around you. This can in turn hog-tie you—keep you from taking common everyday risks that allow you to move ahead in your life.

Can you do anything about this now as an adult?

Yes! The first step is to recognize that you may have blocks that are holding you back from engaging with the world in ways you’d like to. From that point, you would probably do best to see a good therapist. Together you can process confining beliefs and learn to see the world through a new pair of glasses that can help you see your way to more joy.

What if I Don’t Know my Goals for Therapy?

Think you might need a counselor, but aren’t sure what your goals are? Generally this is no big pro-blem-o.

Puzzled Man

When you make an appointment with me, and you show up for the first time, I like to do a preliminary assessment. Although I want to know what brought you to see me and what your goals are for counseling, I find that most clients welcome the chance to begin to interact with a new person without having to come up with all the lines. For you, this helps to break the ice a bit; for me, asking a few questions gives me an overall bird’s-eye-view of your life. This helps me to see a balanced view of what is going on for you, and I am not so apt to miss some glaring problem that you might be so used to that you forget to mention it.

If you know you need to take a look at your life and you need some help processing, but you’re having trouble coming up with your ‘goals’ for counseling, not to worry!

By the time we have finished the general assessment, I have a fair picture of some of the areas that are likely troubling you. Sometimes also, I can see areas of concern that you may not be consciously aware of. After all, if you already have all the answers, why would you go looking for someone to help you process the things that are troubling you? If you need to talk about what goals you want to pursue, that’s ok. We can work on them together. Just remember—you have the last word!

Life Lessons Learned

Boy studies

wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

Benjamin Solomon “Ben” Carson, Sr. is the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Early last month he was the featured speaker at the White House prayer breakfast.

Rather than political rivalry, or partisan politics, what I took away from his speech were some of the lessons Dr. Carson reported learning from his mother as he grew up in poverty in the slums of Detroit.

Despite having only a 3rd-grade education, tackled her sons’ education single-handedly, challenging her boys to learn more and be more. Young Ben, who reports having had a nasty temper and poor grades, grabbed hold of this task and ran with it. No one can argue but that he made very, very good on mom’s challenge.

These are the lessons young Ben learned from mom as a young boy:

1. About being PC – “Do your own thinking. Feel free to speak up about it, but always speak with respect for the other person or side.” As an adult, he muses, “We need diversity of thought and we need to use our brains, but we must always do this respectfully!”

2. On being a victim – Ben’s mom asks, “Son! Do you have a brain? Do you? It doesn’t matter what Johnny or Susie said or did. You can figure out a solution! You are not a victim! Get out there and take responsibility!”

These two bits of advice from Mom Carson set well with me. Think about them for a moment and see what you think!

Reconnect To Life!

Did you ever wish you could just re-set your body’s GPS and head off into a better direction for your mind, body, and soul?

Image credit: mikekiev / 123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: mikekiev / 123RF Stock Photo

Growth and maturity take time. Be patient with yourself!

Whenever you take into yourself what is good and kind, it builds you up a little more and bounces off of you to those around you. Your inner space is being filled with the things humans want and need. Over time, taking in more of the light–cheerfulness, helpfulness, love, peace, and joy—will fill your heart and bless those in your presence.

The truth is–light and darkness cannot occupy the same space in your body, mind, heart, or soul. Be patient with the process!

All you need to do today is say yes to the good and no to the bad.

Did you scream at your spouse this morning? Oh oh! Negative energy, right? The minute you realize that you are not in a good space, do something really novel. Apologize! Own it! Take responsibility! Text or call the one you love and say, “Hey, I really wasn’t fair this morning and I’m sorry. Can I make it up to you tonight? <3”

When you deal with the bad stuff as it happens—and keep things cleaned up—life goes so much more smoothly! When we let things build up over time and keep resenting those nasty things our partner said to us without letting them know it hurt, we’re headed for an explosion! Or perhaps even worse–a painful parting of the ways.

Does apologizing mean that you have to grovel? Cower? Hide? Not on your life! Those are the actions of a person who does not respect himself or herself any more than they respect their boss, their kids, or their spouse. This needs to change.

So if you are living in a place of ‘no-respect’ how do you go about changing this?

No profound change just happens to you. You are not a puppet or a pawn—you’re a person! Choose the change you want to see. Work on it. You can learn to love yourself and those around you. It is the result of many choices over many moments.

When you mess up, take responsibility for the part you played. Move forward in your growing sense of who you are as a person, and what you choose to surround yourself with in life. Begin to live by your choices and bless others with the good stuff.

A grand old life guide says, “You’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. . . Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies.” Phillipians 4:9 The Message

Blessings on your journey!