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Archive for December, 2012

Often low self esteem and depression are seen as separate conditions. What can be overlooked is how the two are often tied together. This becomes evident through thinking and behavior patters that are associated with both. Depression is a mood disorder that can be rooted in low self esteem patterns and likewise, low self esteem can be rooted in depression. So which one comes first? Both do technically. In other words, either one can come first as both patterns can lead from one to another. Depression can be situational and self esteem can be a standalone pattern of behavior, however if they are related there are some useful techniques that can go a long way toward resolving these thoughts and feelings.

Thoughts that are associated with low self esteem are rooted in a negative pattern and are critical in nature. Thoughts such as “I’m stupid” or “I’ll never amount to anything’ can trigger feelings of being useless or a failure. It creates and fosters an atmosphere sending a message of never being good enough and incompetence.  This downhearted critical thought process is exactly that, it brings down the mind and creates a depressive mental state. Other feelings involved leading to depression can be anger, frustration guilt and shame as a result of not meeting these self imposed perfectionist demands.

What to do about it?

A few techniques implemented to help with the low self esteem pattern can lead to lifting the depressive mood. Mental filtering is a technique used to challenge this thinking. For example, if someone is being critical about calling themselves stupid filter it by asking about the evidence. What makes this thinking or thoughts valid? Sometimes changing thought patterns is also about changing thought habits. Changing habits about focusing on the negative side of most situations and look for more positives. Watch for compare and despair, in other words, comparing other situations and thinking others have it better or thinking others are better people as a whole can be particularly self destructive. Think about other ways of looking at situations or how someone else might see it. What would a friend say about these thoughts, or what would be said to a friend having these thoughts?

Some positive mindsets, to encourage self esteem, are to begin to do some self inventory. Take a look as personal strengths and write them down. Keep adding to the list daily as new ones are discovered. Write down compliments from others and have a reward day set aside for achievements and accomplishments. Even if not feeling entirely well internally, behaving differently externally can help change this with posturing by standing, walking and talking in a more confident and direct manner when engaging others. Often others will engage and return communication in a more positive manner as well. Saying thank you, smiling and showing genuine appreciation and interest with others can go a long way toward self confidence and ultimately self esteem. Struggling with depression, especially if it is tied to self esteem, does not have to be an exhausting experience. Choose to do what is best that leads to a positive, helpful and healthy outcome.

Romans 12:6-8 (Message)
If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

About the author- Brian M Murray is a devoted professional helping people overcome difficult obstacles in life. He is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern located in Orlando and Winter Park Florida working as a counselor in a private practice setting at The LifeWorks Group.

Reprint Permission– If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint. “Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005″

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missing-someone-pic-quoteHaving a spouse or loved one who is deployed either in the military, as a missionary for a church or on assignment with company related business then chances are at some point the blues will kick in missing that other person. For the person who is deployed or on assignment the trip is often like an adventure staying busy and focused on the task at hand. Adjusting to other cultures and travel become time consuming. For the person at home life goes on as usual minus the spouse. After a little bit of time the at home spouse begins to feel the void and time missed spent with the other person. This is often when the blues kick in really missing them being a part of their everyday life.

Deployed spouse blues is similar to depression in how it is handled. Isolating and spending too much time alone leads to similar symptoms of depression. It is different however as the blues are just that, feeling down by longing for what is missing. Depression comes with a set of specific criteria that defines it as depression. Some of the overlap of the deployed spouse blues versus depression are poor sleeping habits, feeling sad or empty for most of the day, feelings of restlessness or slowed down, easily fatigued and diminished concentration. The reason for this is the distraction of thoughts of the other person being gone and adjusting to living life without them for period of time. Suddenly the home becomes a one person responsibility. Children, pets, maintenance and everything else that goes along with running a household can become difficult.

So if a person is feeling bluesy from a spouse spending chunk of time away from home what can be done about it? Interestingly, the solution is the same as depression. Get busy! Do not isolate or shrink back from friends and family. If anything engage more than before. Do not skip social functions or call in sick to work. Often there is time when spouses spend time together such as in the evening hours. Fill that time with other activities so as not to fill that time with the emptiness and lonely feelings without the other person there. Take walks, go to the park, library, bookstore, exercise or something else during that time preferably outside of the home and if that is not an option then find projects to work on at home. The idea is to create a distraction.

Now for some good news. Feeling the loss of a deployed loved one is an indication of love for the other person. Understanding that feeling, that void, shows just how much the other person brings meaning and joy to your life. Spend some time reflecting on the relationship and allow yourself to embrace the moment when the two of you will reunite. Sometimes spending time apart helps the heart grow fonder and for the long haul can greatly enhance a marriage.

One last suggestion, before the other person gets home, take some time a few days out to prepare the home for their return. To give an idea of what this might look like think in terms of a mini-honeymoon. Don’t just tell them how much they were missed, show them and let them see just how very much they are a special part of your life.

About the author- Brian M Murray is a devoted professional helping people overcome difficult obstacles in life. He is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern located in Orlando and Winter Park Florida working as a counselor in a private practice setting at The LifeWorks Group.

Reprint Permission– If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint. “Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005″

 

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“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” ― C.G. Jung

A child in an elementary school is behaving differently from the others; not only in his behavior but also that he says things that children in the 4th grade usually do not talk about. He wants to bring harm to others. This harm described as burning or hitting others. When he is questioned by school administrators he just laughs and does not answer the question. The teacher is always calling the school staff as the child bullies others and will not behave in class or work on assignments. The school calls the parents; a meeting is scheduled with a school psychologist and testing confirms a diagnosis.

The parents are called for a special meeting with school administrators, the psychologist and the school advises the parents to get help outside of school to help with the troubled behavior. The parents are offended by what they are hearing and feel embarrassed and ashamed of what is being presented to them. Their pride and ego defenses spring into action and demand that the school do something more to take care of the problem. The parents seek someone to blame whether it is a teacher or an inadequate school program. Certainly it is not the child, it must be the school.  The school is doing everything it can with what it has been equipped with to handle such cases but it is not enough in this situation. Further counseling is recommended outside of the school.

What is going on?

While this is not a common scenario is does happen with some consistency. Ask most school administrators and they will tell you of a scenario similar to this one that often unfolds every school year. There is one (or more) student who need mental health treatment. The student is constantly attracting the attention of the school and using its resources and yet the parents are in denial over the reality that their child needs help.

This leads to a catch 22 situation. The parents want the school to handle it and the school is letting the parents know the child needs help outside the scope of what the school can provide. For the school it can become a legal matter and for the parents it becomes a matter of overcoming denial and moving into acceptance and getting their child the help they desperately need. Sometimes it takes a community to counsel a child both in and outside of the school. If a child is exhibiting behaviors and using language that are threatening to others it might be time to begin defusing what could be a potential ticking time bomb.

What to do about it?

If you are a parent and you find yourself and your child in a situation like this please know that it is okay to get help. Do not let shame and self doubt become obstacles to helping your child. Move out from a mode of thinking that the problem will just go away or your child will somehow grow out of it. Move into a mode of acceptance and understand that the problem rarely somehow will just take care of itself.  Trying to take care of the problem yourself or thinking that you can often leads to exhaustion, disappointment and no results.

One of the greatest stigmas of mental health counseling is being open to discuss counseling and overcoming the negative perception that going to a mental health professional is going be a grueling and emotionally painful experience. The inverse is actually true. Going to counseling will help a child learn how to manage their thoughts and feelings leading to improved behavior. Additionally, the parents often find help for themselves along the way learning how to cope with a child who can be emotionally and cognitively difficult to handle. Get into counseling and get the help that is needed. This does not suggest that the child is bad or there is something fundamentally flawed with the family. It means that help is needed in order to manage and cope. Professional therapists are trained to educate and help provide solutions to the problem.

Other ways to get help is to find a support group for parents of children who have the same conditions. For example, a parental support group of children with Autism, Oppositional Defiance or ADHD. There is healing and comfort in knowing that what the family is experiencing is not as uncommon as it may seem. Sharing ideas and how to handle specific problems with each other can go a long way toward self care and helping the child. Do not isolate and know there are professionals in the community who can help. They are there for a reason. It is okay to reach out and get help.

About the author- Brian M Murray is a devoted professional helping people overcome difficult obstacles in life. He is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern located in Orlando and Winter Park Florida working as a counselor in a private practice setting at The LifeWorks Group.

Reprint Permission– If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint. “Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005

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Creative_Wallpaper_The_stones_on_the_sand_015970_A quoted piece of inspirational literature.

 

 

 

Promise Yourself

“To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”

― Christian D. Larson, Your Forces and How to Use Them

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alcohol-and-the-brain

To someone who is struggling with addiction there is often something that is going on in the background that is often overlooked. The addicted person is not looking for drugs or alcohol but something more meaningful in life than their next fix; they are looking for love, meaning and purpose to their life. They are looking for the existential vacuum in their lives, that is, searching for meaning and purpose that will lead them to fulfillment. It is like having an abyss in the center of their being that can never be filled and they put their trust and hope that the next fix will be the one that does the trick, the one that will finally fill the void they are looking for in life and become satisfied.

Addiction metaphorically is like engaging with an unconditional loving partner helping the addicted person feel like they are filling this void. This seduction makes the addicted person feel good because of the bond that is formed between the addicted person and the drug. This bond, or attachment, is the tricky part and often goes unnoticed because it happens slowly over time. It is not so much the drug itself, ask any addicted person and most likely they will say they want to kick the habit, but for some reason they cannot. The lure of the bond, like any good seducer, the drug tells the addicted person that they will be loved, nurtured and offers the promise to feel good and to be satisfied.

There is something about this great seduction that include symptoms described often as the same as a love affair. It is secretive and they cannot wait to be alone with it. It is kept will hidden and out of plain sight. Nobody but the addicted person and their choice lover are aware that the “affair” is taking place. The thought of being with their lover brings about anticipation and adrenaline at the mere thought of engaging with it. They cannot wait until they can get tangled up with it.  This is the part where the addicted person gets the pre-fix dopamine rush by just thinking about it. But, just like any love affair, over time symptoms begin to get noticed, behavior changes begin to expose that something is going on. Questions are often asked by loved ones or close confidants, followed by confessions and finally exposure of the secret comes out or interventions take place.

What to do about it?

Addiction is about forming an attachment to something about the particular drug itself. Yes, there is the chemical dependency part, but first things first, find a way to detach. For example, ask an alcoholic which kind of alcohol they prefer. The answer will most likely involve something along the lines of vodka, wine, beer, whiskey etc. They typically have a drink of “choice” they prefer. Or in the case of drug addiction a drug of choice. There is something about their particular choice they are attached to. The only exception is they may pick any one of them but only when the preferred one is not available. Why? They have a built a bond with the preferred one, it has become their lover.

The first thing to do is to detach and divorce. Changing the perspective of how the drug or alcohol is viewed can help. Help change the perspective of the addicted person by exposing them to the destructive relationship it has created. Get the addicted person motivated with causation to want to begin the process for divorcing the drug. Help them to begin to understand that the seduction is a lie; the addiction is a big lie of the underlying truth that drugs and alcohol addiction cost money, job loss, divorce, lost and broken families and in extreme cases becoming homeless and even death. Propose questions such as: does the nature of addiction sound like something a person would want to be tangled up with? If the chemical was a person, whose main mission is to break apart families, destroy finances, create real divorces and put people on streets, does that sound like something you really want to be a part of? If the addiction were a real person, what would you say to that person who has these types of characteristics? Hopefully the answer would be goodbye.

Reprint Permission– If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint. “Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005″

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Before Moving into Forgiveness, Maybe It’s Time to Get Angry!

photo-the-word-LIES3

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
― Viktor E. Frankl

Is it possible to be overly forgiving of another person? For example, when another person does something in a marriage, such as adultery and then running off with the adulterer, at what point does the person who is left behind stop thinking of themselves as a victim of circumstances? Often times we hear stories about how a long time marriage ends with a spouse running off with a lover. The other spouse is left feeling abandoned, destroyed and reeling with all kinds of emotions and questions. Sometimes the person left behind will somehow hold themselves responsible for the decision the other person has made to run off.

There are a couple of dynamics going on with a scenario like this. If the the spouse who has been betrayed feels responsible then guilt is at play over what has happened. There must have been something they did that caused the other person to do this. The reality of the situation is the spouse who ran off did so as a result of a decision and choice they made on their own. It had nothing to do with the other spouse as they were not included in the decision making process. Sometimes a spouse will announce their leaving but this is about the type who suddenly and abruptly takes off. This type of story as it unfolds often and quickly becomes evident that a plan has been in the making for months.

The second dynamic has to do with integrity and character. Integrity is about honesty, values and ethical orientations that indicate a person’s morals regarding their lifestyle. When a person’s integrity is consistent with their actions and behaviors their character is portrayed actively demonstrating their integrity. When people are saying one thing within the context of a marriage and then abruptly run off with another lover then guess what? The character and integrity of that person is aligned with being an adulterer/adulteress and a liar. They are lying to their spouse while secretly scheming to create another life. It is an inconsistent story both internally and externally. Many cliches refer to this as “living a lie.” So, what to do about it?

Problems begin when the person who wants to remain in the marriage tries to forgive the other person and reconcile and their spouse will not. When this happens one of two things can happen. The most common response is emotional pain followed by grieving the loss. Grieving takes time and  it will need to run its course. Grieving time is different for everyone and there are multiple stages a person will go through. However, there are times when a person stays stuck in a pattern of wanting to forgive and reconcile to the point that it begins to destroy the person’s life. When this happens often changing the perception of the situation can help greatly.

Getting angry with the cheating spouse can go a long way toward recovery and overcoming self victimization. Anger is also commonly the missing stage in the grieving process that is not being allowed to happen (5 stages of grief: Denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Ref. psychcentral.com). There is nothing wrong with getting angry by recognizing the lack of integrity and the faulty character behavior of a cheating spouse who has run way with their lover.

One last thing to remember, forgiveness is not about accepting the transgressions of others, it about letting go of the power the transgression has over the self. When this occurs, self empowerment returns and life resumes in a new direction.

 

About the author- Brian M Murray is a devoted professional helping people overcome difficult obstacles in life. He is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern located in Orlando and Winter Park Florida working as a counselor in a private practice setting at The LifeWorks Group. http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/prof_detail.php?profid=135390&sid=1353537584.3393_2139&state=FL&lastname=Murray

Reprint Permission– If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint. “Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005″

 

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By: Brian M Murray, MS

domestic-violence-400x258

In the news headlines over the weekend is a story about NFL player Jovan Belcher who killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then killed himself in a murder-suicide. The news was devastating to the families of Jevon and Kasandra as well as team members of the Kansas City Chiefs. According to an NBC news report, the families of both Jevon and Kasandra knew that that the couple had issues and there was conflict in the relationship, especially after the arrival of their newborn 3 months ago who now unfortunately has been orphaned.

This is very sad and high profile people get media attention when things like this happen, however the unfortunate truth is domestic violence does not have boundaries. Intimate partner violence is not affected by socioeconomic status, it can and does happen in every race, culture and economic setting. Whenever this type of news comes out it serves as a reminder that sometimes what people see from the outside of a relationship is not always what is happing on the inside. Intimate partner violence is not limited to just men or women, it happens to both as well as the children.

By definition domestic violence is a pattern of coercive or forceful behavior whose aim is to maintain control and manipulate the other person. There are several forms of abuse including emotional, psychological, verbal, physical, and sexual that can and often lead to physical and sexual assault, harassment, threats, blaming, name-calling, screaming, isolating the abused person from family and social contacts, withholding money and or sex and the list goes on.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. reports there were over 900,000 intimate partner violence reports in 2010 alone. This is only what is reported. There are estimates that this figure is less than half of what is really occurring. Some figures estimate total violent incidents as high as 2.1 million during the same time period.

Being involved in a relationship or marriage that is potentially dangerous or even deadly there are steps to take to get away from it. One of the biggest hurdles is getting past the controlling nature of the abuser. The abuser often leads the abused person to believe that if they try anything they will pay the penalty for non-compliance. Nobody deserves to be threatened or physically assaulted in any way.

What the abused person can do is to create a safety plan. A safety plan is a carefully thought out secret preparation that allows for the escape from the abuser. This is about stealth and building a network of resources with trusted people to the point that when the abused person is ready to go they just go. No warning, no notification or any of the sorts, just get out and execute the plan.

Planning is essential to the success of a safety plan. To get an idea, here are a few suggestions that a person may use to get prepared.

  • Finances: Open a checking or savings account in your name alone.
  • Personal: Leave cash, medications, extra clothes or packed bag in a safe place or with someone you know. Often a highly trusted friend or co-worker can be a good resource. Communicate to them at some point they could get a call to meet up unexpectedly.
  • Open a personal Post Office box in your name only to get mail.
  • Identify a safe place to go and have someone in place that can drive you to an undisclosed location.
  • If caught in the middle of a violent or abusive episode, stay in rooms with access to an exit such as a door or open window. Some victims have been known to leave selected windows unlocked.
  • For children, devise a code word that signals them to go with you immediately without questions or comments like a fire drill. Don’t forget to pack them a bag too.
  • If possible, make copies and bring originals of important documents such as children’s birth certificates, legal papers, sentimental items and pictures, insurance papers, passports etc.

Remember, the idea of a safety plan is about starting completely over without having to return for anything. Once gone, stay gone! Once gone the abuser is going to feel a loss of control and may try to track the victim. This is an effort to regain control. Stay on the lookout. Use of stealth when making the plan is very important. If the abuser senses or feels that the victim wants to leave the abuse often gets worse as they fear the impending loss of control.

The following information is an excellent resource with more detailed information if needed.

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

http://www.domesticviolence.org/personalized-safety-plan/

 

About the author- Brian M Murray is devoted to helping people overcome difficult obstacles in life. He is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern located in Orlando and Winter Park Florida working as a counselor in a private practice setting.

Reprint Permission– If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint. “Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005″

 

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