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A Dozen Ways You Can Help a Person Who is Struggling

A Dozen Ways You Can Help a Person Who is Struggling

From the dawn of time, we have documented stories from the Bible in which people did not know how to help others who were grieving and in emotional and physical pain.  There are so many reasons that people are not skilled in helping those in distress. Those reasons can range from their own childhood trauma, lack of seeing it modeled and a plethora of other reasons.  However, we are called to be a people who comfort those who mourn and many times our western culture does not know how to do that when pain lasts for longer than a couple of weeks. While the culture of the west is more educated in psychological distress such as depression and anxiety, we are less skilled in grieving with those that are mourning and long-term support of someone struggling for an extended period of time.  In this podcast, Sharon Wegman, LPC and Cait Beiler of Wellsprings Solutions, LLC discuss a dozen ways that you can help those that are struggling.

Emotionally Healthy Dating Relationships

Emotionally Healthy Dating Relationships

I had a funny dream the other night. In the dream, I was at a hair salon getting a service done to my hair and the price quoted to me kept changing until the time of payment. The price quoted went from $30 to $300, $30,000, and finally $300,000!  Obviously, the whole dream was ridiculous, but when I woke myself up from the dream, I thought about our current podcast on Emotionally Healthy Dating Relationships and how small choices can cost us much more than we could ever have imagined.

If you have ever been in an emotionally unhealthy dating relationship or marriage, you understand there are emotional, social, physical, financial and spiritual costs to unhealthy relationships that we never could have comprehended at the time that we agreed to the start relationship.  The problem is that we can only know what we have been taught or have seen modeled. Most of the time, we don’t really know our issues or the issues of others until we are fully invested in an intimate relationship with that person. Intimacy with someone seems to pull out the unresolved issues of our childhood. Did we have controlling or abusive parents?  Were your parents co-dependent with others? Did our parents give us a voice to say what we thought, felt, or wanted to choose? Were we modeled healthy conflict resolution in our childhood home? Your attachment pattern was established in the first three years of your life and your worldview was formed in the first twelve years of your life. Consequently, we really need to resolve and receiving healing from the wounds of our childhood before we enter into a relationship with someone so they do not affect others. There is hope! You can be restored! You can be healed! Your relationships can be repaired! However, this will involve the uncomfortable process of ripping off the band-aid that covers these childhood wounds and allowing yourself to receive healing and learning new skills and ways of doing things.

Do not be deceived, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you according to Philippians 4:13. In the attached podcast, Sharon Wegman and Cait Beiler discuss eleven different elements that make a relationship emotionally healthy.

Manipulation in Relationships

Manipulation in Relationships

Manipulation in relationships is pervasive in all relationships in life.  Be it our relationships with our significant other, our child or with a friend, most people resort to some form of manipulation in the course of their life to get what they want without having to be vulnerable and state exact needs.  We fear vulnerability because of the fear of rejection and abandonment; denial of our needs feels much more hurtful than that of getting our needs met through manipulation. When one person wants another person to do something, our human nature can readily resort to some type of manipulative words or behaviors to get what we desire in the situation.  Transversely, when someone is trying to get us to do something that we do not want to do, our human nature can quickly resort to passive manipulation as our way of maintaining power and saying no without being rejected. Think of the child who is told no to a request for a piece of candy. The child does not yet have control of their impulses, and so they may start whining for the candy or throw a fit of rage to try to manipulate the adult to give them what they request.  If the child is given the candy as a result of their manipulation, they are likely to quickly learn at an early age that they can manipulate people to get what they what they want. We learn manipulative tactics at an early age from observing the ways of our parents, and we slowly start incorporating manipulative ways into how we live. Some of the manipulation tactics are very visible, and some are more covert in their expression, but none of the tactics builds safety in relationships. Children will not feel safe and secure with parents who manipulate them, our significant relationships will not grow where manipulation is present, and our friendships will be stunted in growth under the absence of vulnerability and the presence of manipulation.  Manipulation twists relationships into something that cannot thrive because of the poisons of hurtful words of behaviors can stunt the growth of a relationship, cause abnormalities to develop and in some cases cause the relationship to die. If we want our relationships to thrive, we are going to need to work hard at not only eliminating manipulative behaviors and words and become more vulnerable in our expression of our needs and feelings. In the attached podcast, Sharon Wegman and Cait Beiler discuss the continuum of manipulative words and actions including; Isolating, withholding, minimizing, accusation, deceit, coercion, demeaning, criticism, rage, and threatening amongst other behaviors.

Do You Stink?

Do You Stink?

Recently the power went out in the building where I work and I wound up having to do three counseling sessions via candlelight that night.  The candle lighting was subtle, however, the fumes from the five different candles were so overwhelming that they overpowered my sense of smell.  I was so overcome by the fumes to the point that I questioned whether I was high by the end of the evening.  One scent may have been tolerable over the course of three hours, but five different scents were toxic. I had that smell burned into my olfactory sense for days!

Since that evening, I have been thinking of the aroma that I and others emit.  We know we can be overpowered by someone’s bad breath or body odor, but we can also be overpowered by someone’s “emotional” smell.  Sometimes the emotional aroma is so powerful that it can affect those with whom we share life. How do we “emotionally smell” to others?  I tell my family when they are emitting unpleasant physical smells so that they have the opportunity to do something about their aroma.  The truth is that unless you are middle school boy who finds terrible smells amusing because you can annoy others, most people do not want to smell unpleasant to others.

I remember the days of my perfectionism when it came to entertaining people in our home.  Nobody in our home except our guests experienced the event with great joy because the aroma of tension, anger, and anxiety filled our house before our guests arrived. I needed things to be perfect!  My family was forced to take in my unresolved emotional issues of perfectionism and they had to experience the unpleasant aroma I was producing.  Fast forward twenty plus years, and I and my family are in a much different place. I have empowered them to tell me their feelings when my behavior aroma is negatively impacting them.

Here are the steps you need to take to create a more pleasing aroma in your relationships:

1. Talk about and use vulnerable feeling words within your home. This will enable your children to learn the language of feelings at a young age. Then, they can openly talk about the unpleasant things they are experiencing from you instead of acting out their emotions.

2. Permit your family and friends to let you know when you stink.

3. Take the feedback given to you and ask yourself if there is a way you can be a more pleasing aroma. You may need to work on your issues to eliminate those unpleasant emotional aromas!

4.  Don’t make excuses for the way you smell by blaming it on others or by focusing on someone else’s smell.  If you want to be a pleasing aroma, you need to work on your own scent.

5.  If someone else stinks, you have a choice of how much you allow their unpleasant aroma to affect you.  If you walk in relationship with them, you are responsible for telling them about their offensive aroma. However, it is not your job to convince them of their smell or tell them what to do with it. You only have to choose how close you sit to them.

God calls us to be a pleasing aroma.  He says in Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Forgive yourself

Forgive yourself

Sometimes the forgiveness that releases me comes from me choosing to forgive myself.   I remember many years ago struggling to get over a boyfriend in college, and finding myself stuck in obsessing over what I wished I had done differently.   Shame has a creepy way of continuing to torment you over what you should have done differently by keeping you mired in ways that cause self-hate.  You wish you could move on, but the fact of the matter is you keep ruminating over what happened in the past as opposed to moving forward.  When my boyfriend and I in college broke up, it was a mutual decision; he moved on to date other women, and I stayed stuck unable to move forward and focused on all the mistakes I allowed in the relationship.  I spent a good portion of my junior year focusing on all my errors in judgment and overly aware of all my imperfections in interactions with the opposite sex.  Even though I had long ago forgiven him for his part in our relationship failure, I could not stop focusing on the mistakes I had made.  One day as I sat in a mall food court with a friend and I shared how I was still stuck, she asked me, “well, when are you going to forgive yourself?”  A light bulb turned on at that moment, and I realized I was still walking and shame and unable to forgive myself for my lack of wisdom in my relationship.   As it turns out, this conversation was a powerful life lesson about making mistakes.  I came to see that to move forward in anything I had to extend the same level of forgiveness to myself that I was extending to other people.  It was at that moment that I began to understand how much shame about imperfections, failures, and mistakes impacted my forward movement.  What errors of the past are you still focusing on in your thoughts?  Are there areas of your life that you are stuck in as a result of focusing on your failings?  How do those unforgiving thoughts about yourself affect your self-hate and other sabotaging behaviors?  It’s time to start forgiving yourself.   It’s time to start giving yourself grace for mistakes because that’s what they are…mistakes.  

 

Psalm 103:10-11

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him  

Thank You

I admit it. I am about to sound like a cranky old lady, who rants about the younger generation, but I am not that person. I have a problem that people do not require their children to learn the art of writing thank you notes and showing gratitude to people. I see these attitudes invading marriages and families, and it disturbs me that the art of gratitude is being lost amidst the growing entitlement I see in marriages and families. Here is the rule by which I try to live: I will not use the money or item someone has given me until I first write a note of thanks honoring the sacrifice and gift that was given to me. That same rule applies for my children. One of my children follows the rule very easily and the other needs to have some motivation applied to make sure it occurs. I have a personal mission in life that they will not be entitled children who become entitled adults because it will cut off the flow of favor they will receive as adults; people honor people who honor them. I am seeing a whole new generation of people who expect behaviors from people with whom they are in a relationship because “that is what they are supposed to do.” I have men who tell me that their wife needs to give them sex because that’s what they need, but they fail to give the nurture their wives needs to be cherished. I have wives with husbands who fail to engage them as they are supposed to because they are constantly criticizing their husband. I have children telling me what their parents should be doing but failing to honor it when they do it for them because it is the expected behavior they have of their parents. I have employees telling me what they deserve, yet fail to put into the job what they expect out of a job. Do you want your children to be less entitled? Do you want to be less entitled and more gracious? Start writing thank you notes. When someone does you favor, gives to you, or does something for you out of the ordinary, write a thank you note to honor what they have given. In the grand scheme of life, people who honor will receive more and people who do not honor might or might not be honored in return. Thank you for listening to my old person rant. I appreciate and honor your support of me and my desire to blog.

Transitioning with Your Family Flock

This morning, there were many Canadian geese flying through the sky and honking at each other, and it was downright noisy as they passed over my head. After the raucous choir overhead had left me, I decided to investigate on the internet why they were all honking to one another. I found it interesting to read the various reasons they were honking at one another; the main reason being they are family members communicating during a flight to keep everyone together. This communication process is right for humans in changing seasons as well as Canadian geese! What once I was able to do while grounded is not what I can do while I am in the process of moving with the changing seasons. As people change and as the season of life changes, the amount of communication with family and friends needs to increase; otherwise, people will get confused as to where they are going and what is happening. My household is in the midst of several huge changes and the level and detail of conversation have had to increase for everyone to be aware of the path we are taking and what will need to happen during these changes that are different than they were in the past. Here is a brief list of what needs to occur in family (flock) communication and positioning if you are in the midst of some significant change of seasons:

1. Flock members need to communicate more on their whereabouts and simple day-to-day planning more than usual so that anxiety is not heightened by a lack of communication on simple things. Geese communicate in flight much more than on the ground.
2. Flock members need to honestly share their emotional state during the transition so that others do not misunderstand their silence or “excessive honking” as something other than what is occurring. While isolation can be comfortable during phases of being overwhelmed, greater depth of vocalization needs to happen.

3. Flock members will require more love and reassurance during times of transition. Do you know your family member’s love language? You need to give them what they need, not what feels good to you. If you are not a hugger, but your family member needs physical affection, then you need to give them what they need and vice versa. Geese communicate in many different ways in flight, sometimes as means of reassuring other flock members of their presence.
4. Flock members need a general roadmap of where this transition is taking them and how it will affect them. Before moving south for the winter, families of geese practice flights of various lengths to become confident in traveling as a group. What does practice look like when it comes to transition during different seasons?
5. Flock members will need more rest during migration due to the toll the change is taking on them. Planning large chunks of rest is necessary and essential to the completion of the transition.
6. We will need people to move with us through the change of seasons, but the group size will be smaller than it was when grounded.
7. A greater need for contact with the Creator is required during a transition. Just as Canadian Geese flying south for the winter is an awe-inspiring endeavor that God orchestrated when he created them, we need time to interact with the God of creation to move in the right direction.

• Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).

Relationship Change is Exhausting and Invigorating – Just Like Moving.

Around this time last year I moved. It was exhausting and difficult, and every day I crawled in bed close to tears. Change is hard on so many levels and this is true in relationships as well as household changes. I was recently reflecting on how difficult it can be to change how you relate to your spouse when you have related in the same ways for so many years. Like moving, transition in relationships can be hard. You have to decide what you are going to keep and discard in your relationship transition. As people grow and change, what they need in the new relationship is not necessarily what was needed in the past. Many changes in the course of a marriage will impact what the marriage needs and what each person needs as time marches forward. Births, deaths, illness, the ages of your children, the work status of each person, spiritual crisis, emotional crisis, extended family issues, holidays and many other things will impact how your relationship needs to transition. The new relationship will require both parties to move around how they had positioned themselves toward one another. Rare is the occasion when how the furniture was positioned one house can be positioned in the same way in the new location. In all relationships moving, to the new way it is to exist will require some difficult conversations often filled with pain and hurt. The pain and hurt is usually so large that it is exhausting for the couple and yet they must push through the pain and exhaustion to get to the other side. One person cannot move the relationship alone. You just cannot carry the relationship to the new without both parties doing the heavy lifting and feeling the pain, but that is a hard task. Rare is the person who embraces emotional pain and allows themselves to sit in it until it can be moved and yet it is what is necessary to make the move together. Relationships cannot be moved to the new alone, but they require heavy lifting, pain and exhaustion close to tears. We cannot do it alone. We need the supernatural medicating power of God to assist us through all transitions as he has the power that we can lean into when we do not feel it in and of ourselves.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

 

Are You Helping a Fool? Five Questions to Help You Know

Are You Helping a Fool? Five Questions to Help You Know
How did you react to the recent national traumas of these past two weeks? Did it cause you to want to say or do something about the pain you witnessed or did it make you want to shrink back into a place of self-numbing withdrawal? Trauma causes us to have flight or fight responses to other things that stir up pain inside of us. Think about your friends and family and your reactions to their pain. Standing back and watching friends and family experience pain is difficult in many ways. When we see someone in pain, we can experience empathy for similar pains from our past and we do one of two things: we rush to the scene to help the person in any way we can, or we turn our heads to the side and look away. If we do not look at it, we will not experience the pain as strongly. The fight to help the trauma and the flight away from it can both be unhealthy responses when dealing with someone who maintains foolish habits and keeps making the same poor choices over and over. The Bible is full of many proverbial instructions on dealing with foolish behavior. The general rules are summarized as to have boundaries and consequences for foolish behavior, but to not expend any of your resources of time, finances, and wisdom on people who repeatedly make poor choices. People have to experience the consequences or the pain of their poor choices in order make the changes they need to make in their lives. Pain motivates us to make a decision to alleviate pain, but if people are carrying our pain for us in areas in which we are foolish, we will not feel pain. What are the areas in which you are carrying the pain for those around you who are repeatedly making foolish choices?
  1. Do you make excuses for your family’s or friend’s foolishness?
  2. Do you rescue your family member from the consequences of their foolish choices?
  3. Do you make decisions for family or friends when they refuse to not make decisions?
  4. Do you to protect people’s feelings and not tell them the truth of their actions?
  5. Do you allow your boundaries or values to change because of your family and friend’s foolish behaviors?
If you are doing the above actions, you are enabling more foolishness in the lives of friends and family. It is time to stop fighting to and flighting from the pain of those around us and it’s time to actually help.
Proverbs 26:4-5 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

Throughout our Wellsprings offices, you will find many pieces of artwork with beams of light coming into dark areas, such as forests.  It is the “picture” in my mind’s eye of what counseling can do in people’s lives if they allow truth to penetrate the dark areas where they are constantly hurt.  When we are emotionally blinded in an area, we we are not sure what is going on because we cannot see what is around us.  We feel things very clearly, but we are unable to distinguish what reality is and how to move around in it because the room is dark.  Several years ago, there was a show on TV in which people were forced to complete tasks in utter darkness and many participants had extreme fear because they could not see clearly what they were really dealing with or touching.  The only thing they knew is what they were told.  One individual might perceive they were walking across a beam 40 feet in the air because they were told that was their truth and they were strapped up as if they were walking on a beam, but in reality they were only 12 inches off the floor.  How did they know what was real or not?  They could not see and depended on what they were told.   They walked through the darkness in extreme terror not realizing they were believing lies.  Sometimes the messages we were told as children verbally and nonverbally have created large areas of darkness in our lives because what was said or done to us was not really truth.  I continually challenge those in my office to examine what is truth and make decisions on truth, not on the words of those in our past or our present.  Words alone are not truth.  Words alone are intentions or manipulations.  Actions are truth.  Words and actions combined can be a  powerful light in darkness.  Choose to be a person who focuses on the light today.  It will bring illumination to the dark areas of your life.  Make a list of things from your childhood you know are not true, but that you continue to walk according to in your life.  These are the areas where you need truth revealed via praying and asking for God to show you truth or asking safe people in your life what is truth.

 

Mark 4:22

“For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light.”