Shame is the most significant behind the scenes motivator of a lot of the counseling topics that come through our office. It is the enemy of your being. It drives addictions, self-image problems, marriage struggles, depression, anxiety, etc. Whatever problem you name, there is an element of shame that may not have caused the root of the problem, but now exists. In this podcast, Sharon Wegman and Cait Beiler discuss Paul Gilbert’s theory of emotional regulation and how shame can make any one of the three elements of emotional regulation (soothing, threat, and drive) encompass the balance we can have without shame.
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Category: self growth
When we think about addiction, we may be inclined to view it strictly through the lens of someone who abuses drugs or alcohol. However, if you have ever loved someone with an addiction, then you know that it is not that simple. In fact, those that love someone with an addiction may actually find themselves with an almost “second hand” addiction. I am referring to codependency. Codependency has a diverse spectrum and can be a complex and challenging concept. The form of codependency that will be focused on here is the residual addictive behaviors and emotions that come from loving someone with an addiction – when one becomes addicted to the addict.
To begin, it can be helpful to view addiction as a series of obsessions and compulsions. While we watch our loved one obsess over their substance of choice and have compulsive risky and unhealthy behaviors required to sustain the addiction, we can very easily be sucked into their “obsessive-compulsive” world. Regardless of the title of the relationship, it is natural to want to spare someone we love from hardships. This becomes especially challenging with someone in active addiction, who we might see all but actively seek out hardships through risky behavior and unhealthy decisions. Due to the nature of addiction, these acts of “kindness” once rooted in love can soon switch to compulsive behavior based on fear, confusion, and general powerlessness. Have you found yourself obsessing over where your loved one is or rethink every interaction with them to see if there are any holes in their story? Or maybe questions such as “are they safe”, “are they using”, “who are they with”, “why are they doing this” flood your mind. These obsessive thoughts can lead to compulsive behavior in an attempt to self soothe the obsession and spare ourselves the guilt, shame, or embarrassment that accompanies them. Some examples might be minimizing behavior, providing money as a bailout to a financial pinch, or becoming a detective and constantly investigating your loved one’s belongings, statements, or behaviors.
Because of the chaotic nature of addiction, our emotions are often experienced in extremes, with stress being arguably the most common. When our body feels stress, the brain begins sending out various signals “sounding the alarm” accompanied by a rush of adrenaline. This feeling might be familiar in the way someone’s heart races when their loved one comes home under the influence, or stomach knots or racing thoughts when searching through their belongings, or the way the body might naturally tense at the thought of the loved one. Chronically being in this state of heightened emotion can lead to constantly expecting that “adrenaline hit,” which in turn feeds that “obsessive-compulsive” hunger. We have a thought, it leads to stress, we get that “hit”, we act out on the thought, we validate our thought, we get another “hit”. Those spikes in adrenaline and state of stress become a new normal for the body, and there becomes a normalization of crisis and expectation of chaos. When the addict’s behavior sets the temperature of our daily experience and we enter into a world of chaos, we can very easily lose sight of ourselves and just how irrational our thinking and behaviors have become.
When we speak of recovery, we view this as a holistic process in which those directly affected by a loved one’s addiction must enter into their own recovery journey. It is a process of letting go of perceived control and regaining power over what is controllable. By confronting the expectation of crisis and setting firm boundaries over thoughts and behaviors, we can slowly move out of a world consumed by chaos and regain the safety of mind, decision, and sense of self.
Co-dependency was a word that was coined by people working in the field of addictions to describe the behavior of members of an addict’s family that enabled the addict to continue with addict choices. However, in the world of counseling, we have taken over the term to describe the behaviors of individuals who carry things for others that are not their responsibility. This could look like several things. Sometimes people can have an unhealthy need for people to make them feel better. For example, if someone struggles with anxiety, they might be dependent on another individual to make them feel peaceful. This relationship struggle can cause people to control others so they don’t feel upset or it could cause people to become “people pleasers” to keep themselves or others from feeling off emotionally. People tell me all the time that they feel like they have to carry the problems or tasks of others so that they don’t feel anxious. The crux of all co-dependency is that I carry something for someone so that I don’t have to feel _________(fill in the blank) or so that the other person doesn’t have to feel __________(fill in the blank). However, what we all need to understand is that feeling uncomfortable feelings is part of our emotional growth to wholeness; for self and others. Whether it is our children, friends, co-workers or other family members, if we don’t feel the uncomfortable feelings of our choices, we are likely to not change. In this podcast, Cait Beiler and Sharon Wegman discuss what codependency can look like in our everyday life.
The trend and comfort of going to counseling has only developed popularity within the past decade or so. This is a good thing, but as a therapist, I still encounter the negative views or “cliches” people see in counseling. As a culture, we are just now starting to come out of the perspective that going to counseling somehow means “you’re crazy” or “there’s something wrong with you.” In reality, we all go through hard things, and the point is we need support and safe places to process these experiences to stay healthy and receive healing. In this podcast, Sharon and I discuss the different reasons why someone might want to go to counseling and how counseling can aide and support that person in their process of healing. It is possible that as you have gotten older, you have become more increasingly aware of negative patterns you have picked up over time from your childhood. Going to counseling can help you unravel some of these patterns and find new ways to think and see things rather than being stuck in our childhood self. Another reason people might come to counseling is to find help and a safe space to process various types of trauma that have happened to them. Such trauma might include; multiple types of abuse, divorce, poverty, domestic violence, etc. Talking to a counselor can free up some of the weight and struggle you carry from these memories, as well as helping you find healthy ways to cope with your past. Lastly, you might find yourself needing to go to counseling because you have experienced the death of someone close to you. Grief counseling is a massive piece of working through a loss and the grief cycle in a very vulnerable time.
All in all, counseling is helpful for any season of life, sometimes as people, we need someone to sit and process with us in a place that feels safe and gives us permission to explore and experience our emotions. A therapist is simply a person whose job is to support and help you work out your feelings and your needs. Therapists are not afraid of the ugly feelings, so you have permission in a counseling office to be your authentic self. A counseling office is a place concerning no judgments or expectations over us, and for most of us, that in itself can be a very healing process.
Anxiety rates are on the rise in the western world. In fact, in 2018 study on anxiety, it was determined that “1 in 5 five individuals deal with some form of anxiety and would be considered the highest prevalent form of mental illness in the United States”. Most people feel a lot of shame about not being able to control their anxiety or the fact that they have anxiety, however as research on this topic evolves we are coming to understand that changes in our culture have strong influences on the development of anxiety in our culture. For example, researchers have determined that 90% of the serotonin receptors are located in the gut. Therefore, the adage that “ you are what you eat” is quite right when it comes to an understanding some of the roots of anxiety in a modern culture which eats many genetically modified and processed foods. Additionally, many therapists would agree that the use of electronics increases social isolation and increases more self-comparison and negative perceptions of self and the world. In this podcast, Cait Beiler, MS and Sharon Wegman, MA, LPC, discuss causes of anxiety and strategies to deal with anxiety.
Newman, Tim (2018, May 5) Anxiety in the West: Is it on the rise? Retrieved from URL
Naidoo, Uma (2019, March 27) Gut feelings: How food affects your mood. Retrieved from URL
How do you relate with others? Are you secure? Do you struggle with social anxiety? Sometimes understanding the truth of how we relate to people is the first step to beginning to make the necessary changes in how we relate to people. Most people fail to understand that attachment takes place in the first three years of a person’s life, and the individual’s world view is primarily established in the first twelve years of a person’s life. We have very little control over how we learned to attach to and relate to people, but we do have power over how we change to relate to people. In this podcast, Sharon Wegman and Cait Beiler discuss the basics of Attachment theory which was originated by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth and consider how the therapeutic process can bring change to how we relate to people.
It’s common for people sitting across from me in the counseling office to talk about their inability to feel safe or connected to God. Their walk with God seems very distant or is plagued with feels of guilt and shame. Some people are pretty clear that they want no part of God because of how God was presented to them by authority figures. They are clear that God represents pain and they want no part of him because of the way he has been described to them. An essential piece of developing an excellent spiritual walk involves understanding how our childhood attachment issues with authority figures impact our current spiritual struggles. In the attached podcast, Sharon Wegman and Cait Beiler discuss how childhood issues can affect our spiritual walk.
By Cait Beiler
“Because sex isn’t properly introduced to us as a gift from God, an act of worship, and a holy binding act that should be celebrated in the right context, we know sex as something as scandalous and devious and guilt-carrying to desire.” – Moh Iso
Yup, that’s right you read the title correctly. This blog post and podcast is all about sex. If you are someone who instantly felt negative feelings surrounding this topic, this blog post and podcast are precisely for you. We currently live in a constant sexually stimulated culture. The problem is as a society we have done a collectively poor job of talking about sex in the ways it needs to be addressed. This taboo mentality we have over sex has especially affected Christian culture. Not talking about such an important topic promotes negative feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment around sexuality. Lack of knowledge and discussion around the subject of sex lead us into an empty, unfulfilling sex life. We believe that God made sex to be a gift, but somewhere along the line between shame around the topic and religious distortion, we have forgotten the beautiful gift that sex is. Sex was never meant to be about control or power, but rather a means to experience intimacy on a multifaceted level, and Holy Spirit filled. This intimacy is intended to be healthy and fulfilling for each partner in the relationship. Common myths need to be dispelled in the fantastical world of pornography and sex. Researchers and professionals around the world are beginning to report the detrimental effects that pornography has an over-sexualized society leads to for people. Make your sex life healthy again, start by talking to someone about it, and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for some help!
In this podcast, Cait Beiler and Sharon Wegman discuss the aspects of unhealthy sexuality in the marriage and how to correct this for a better connection.
How do you feel after someone has manipulated, guilted or shamed you into doing something for them? You do not feel good about yourself. You feel shameful and have poor self-esteem after the matter. To compound matters, how do you feel when you have no choice in a matter, and you are not allowed to share your feelings or say no? You probably feel powerless and violated in addition to feeling guilty, shameful, condemned, and perhaps lacking trust in the other person. Unfortunately, parents in their own feelings of powerlessness sometimes resort to manipulative techniques to get their children to comply with their requests. We have all been there and done that type of behavior in the parenting journey, however, if we grew up with emotionally or verbally abusive behavior, we may not realize when we are being manipulative in our parenting. We desire to empower our children to move toward the design their creator has made them, but we take away some of the fuel they need to achieve their plan when we inadvertently steal some of their emotional strength via manipulative parenting techniques. In the attached podcast, Licensed professional counselor, Sharon Wegman, and counselor Cait Beiler discuss the seven cardinal sins parents can inadvertently do that harm their children. Ephesians 6:4 cautions parents, and our podcast focuses on these provoking behaviors:
- Too much talking, lecturing, and nagging.
- Parental tirades and temper tantrums.
- Parental tears and guilt trips.
- Parental threats of harm to the child.
- Inconsistency in the parenting.
- Disagreement in front of the children.
- Lack of giving to the children.
Characteristics of Successful Parents
Parenting is the toughest job out there. It triggers more emotional reactions than we could ever imagine before walking out the journey of parenting. Each phase of the child’s development triggers different responses from us, but the underlying theme is powerlessness. Am I doing this right? Am I messing up my child with my dysfunction? How can I parent well in the midst of a busy schedule? All these questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to parenting while feeling powerless. In the first of a two-part podcast, Sharon Wegman, LPC, and Cait Beiler discuss ten characteristics of successful parents from a counseling point of view.
Included in their discussion are the following 10 Characteristics of Successful Parents;
- Confident in parenting without being severe or authoritarian as the means of asserting their authority.
- Clear and consistent with expectations.
- Treat their children with respect despite how angry and frustrated they are feeling.
- Remain verbally and physically affectionate throughout the teen years.
- Are emotionally accessible to their children.
- Good sense of humor and can laugh at themselves.
- Never punish unfairly and never demean their children by treating them as inferiors.
- Stand their ground on points that matter.
- Seek help from others when they don’t know what to do.
- Seek God for answers, wisdom, and strength for their parenting problems.