By: M. Diane Pearce, Ph.D., Marriage & Family Therapist
“BE CAREFUL, KEEP CALM & DO NOT LOSE HEART!” This is the soundest psychological advice of our time! This advice is challenging to follow when the order that we all grew accustomed to is nowhere to be seen. In a gloomy & distressful environment, it is natural human instinct to begin looking around for something predictable & a sense of order. Chaos seems to surround us, in the news, social media, government and even in relationships.
Order and predictability become my quest….
A quote from the movie Spiderman, “To whom much is given, much is expected” resonates in my soul because I have been given a great deal. Therefore, I am somewhat ashamed to admit to you, my reader, that I am afraid of the unknown. In my younger & seemingly braver days I marched into the unknown & I did it alone and afraid. Yet, I walked in faith and took one step at a time, having only my faith in God and what scripture tells me is His purpose for me as my motivation. As God often does with us, He did not make clear to me the path set before me but He always made clear the next step to take by making available to me one & only one step at a time. Now years later, I find myself fearing the unknown, when I know from years of experiences that He is predictable though the path laid before me is not!
So, we must ask ourselves, as we start a new year with the chaos, what step can I take today? Though I will feel lonely and afraid, wisdom tells me that I only need to know how to take the step laid before me today.
How to be Strong enough for One Step at a Time in today’s Chaos…….
“Be Careful, Stay Calm & Do Not Lose Heart” is advice that is psychologically sound for our current culture & it comes from scripture! This advice was stunningly appropriate to the environment that is recorded in Isaiah. The people were in gloom and distress & needed a Prince of Peace, an Everlasting Father! He told Isaiah to not call conspiracy what the people call conspiracy & do not fear what they fear. He told him to Be careful, Stay Calm & Do not lose heart! May we each stand firm in our faith with Careful Calm!
(Scripture adapted from Isaiah 7:4, 9, 8:12-14, 9:1,2 6,7)
By: Chip Carter, LPC, Co-Director Legacy Strategy
I believe most, if not everyone reading this, can agree on one thing – 2020 has been one of the most challenging years ever. And Isn’t it nice that we’re all agreeing on something for a change?
Not much more needs to be written about the year 2020 and the difficulties it has brought. We could all most likely recite a litany of challenges, frustrations and losses. It has been draining. It has been exhausting. It has been, just simply, hard.
Many of us are counting down the days to January 1st, 2021. People so badly want this year to be a distant memory and just want to stop saying ‘2020’ like it’s both a diagnosis and a punchline. I imagine firework sales for New Year’s Eve this year will be record breaking if only for a symbolic ‘see ya’ to many of ours ‘worst year ever’.
But here’s the thing…once we cross into the new year, the pandemic, political polarization and racial unrest…they aren’t leaving. They will be here with us on New Year’s Day whether we like it or not.
So if the countdown to ‘end the misery of 2020’ isn’t going to provide some long-lasting relief, what will? What does? Can anything help redirect our thoughts and our prayers to point towards some semblance of hope? In my life, I have found two things that, when done consistently, put hope back front and center where it belongs – reflection and gratitude.
Reflection – if you’re like me, sometimes all you have left in you at the end of the day is enough energy to crawl in the bed and maybe turn off your bedside lamp. But on my better days, here’s what I do. I get out an old-school day planner and write the highlights of my day. It’s short, it’s typically in bullet form and, to be honest, some days have fewer entries. But the act of recalling and reflecting on my day challenges me to find moments that are worth remembering. These can be conversations that mattered, a complement you received, or even unexpected time to binge a show on Netflix. These small acts of recalling and naming the best parts of our day puts our hearts into a more open place for…
Gratitude – You didn’t think you’d read a blog post during this time of the year and not have that word discussed, did you? But…it’s 2020…and it’s never been more important. Here’s how I start my heart and mind into a time of gratefulness. I grab my phone and find a worship song in my music library. I then put the phone on top of my chest (I’m laying down) over my heart and hit play. For four or five minutes, I let the song play and I give thanks for the people, the opportunities and the wonder in my life. I also pray into things that are going on my own life and the lives of those I know and love. I can honestly say when I start my day this way, it makes a difference. And to be a difference-maker, to not let this problem or that problem, this year or that year get you down, that’s what I’m shooting for.
My encouragement to each of you it to bookend your days with gratitude and reflection and put 2020…or any other year that may come…in it’s place. There is still much to be thankful for; we just have to make the time to remember.
BY: TRAY TANKERSLEY APC, NCC, THM
A few weeks ago I heard a memorable quote, part of a larger statement made by the leadership of Boeing, an American aerospace bellwether and the manufacturer of the 737 MAX plane. Responding to Congress’ damning investigation of a series of 737 MAX plane crashes, the leadership of the company stated:
Change is always hard and requires daily commitment, but we as a company are dedicated to doing the work...
I second that - change is hard and requires daily commitment. Those who seek therapy, whether they can articulate it or not, are seeking change. This sounds good, until the changes are articulated: I need a different spouse; I want my children to change their behaviors; I wish my manager would leave; can I get a new mom or dads. It’s human nature, isn’t it? We all want change. We just want someone else or something else (besides us) to change.
Our role will be to bring our best, most empathetic, patient, understanding self to help others make the necessary changes. Ok, hopefully you are chuckling with me.
We find as therapists that, at some level (usually on a “surface” cognitive level) clients believe that they have opportunity for growth and change. And, I find that clients believe that the other (fill in the blank) still possesses MOST of the responsibility for the problem and most of the needed change!
In the therapy room it sounds like this:
Client: “I know I don’t do everything perfect and I need to make some changes...”(long pause) “BUT YOU SHOULD SEE WHAT HE/SHE/THEY DO...”
Be that as it may, you do not have enough anger, manipulative skills, anxious activity or enough facts, logic, data and reason to make anyone else change.
The ONLY person you can change is yourself. The only responses you can change are yours. The only facial expressions, eyebrow raises, frowns you can change are your own. The only thoughts you can control are yours. The only emotions you can regulate belong to you. The only words you can command come out of your mouth.
Change is always hard...because it requires something from you. It’s always easier to require something of someone else.
But requiring change from someone else keeps you from the TREAT of change. It’s a treat to learn to respond differently. It’s a treat to grow as a person and learn the skill of grounding and emotionally regulating yourself without having to rely on someone else to do it for you. It’s a treat to find new words and new ways of expressing emotions and vulnerability.
The TRICK is embracing the well worn rule of life - you’re the only one you can change!
By: Sean Reilly, LCSW
Living in today’s social media driven age makes it difficult to not put pressure on ourselves.
Remember the Coca-Cola and Alka-Seltzer experiment in science class? Too much pressure results in an explosion. While we won’t physically explode, the feelings of being weighed down by societal and self-imposed pressure can lead to an emotional breakdown, blow up fight with a loved one, or even burnout.
To avoid a physical and mental crisis, perhaps we can try to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves! Although it’s easier said than done, we can learn to let things go. Be mindful that the change will probably not happen overnight; with some self-awareness, we can teach our self to stop trying to be so perfect all the time.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, in the mental health industry we have observed an increasing trend of over pressurization leading to burnout--with clients, family, and friends--even some therapists! With decision fatigue, changes, wearing multiple hats, it is very common to feel like you need to do it all and do it perfectly. Here are a few strategies to reorient yourself when you are feeling over pressurized:
8 ways to stop putting pressure on yourself
1. Remember: Nobody is Perfect
Only one of these strategies may ring true to you and that’s great; we don’t need to do them all at once! Use that strategy to stop pressurization in its tracks--we can all use a little extra grace--especially in difficult seasons.
Sean Reilly, LCSW works with teenage boys and adults experiencing anxiety, stress & mood issues due to pressurization, burnout, and other life challenges; he utilizes talk therapy and EMDR to work through emotional distress from painful life events. Contact us to set up your appointment today.
By: Ariadne Crane, MA, APC, AMFT
If we were to compare deities from various religions, we would notice that the God from the Christian Bible is the only God that left his throne and met his people face to face. He literally came down from the high mountain to meet us and interact with us. We were created to be in relationships with others, modeled by God. Not only is it important to Him to relate to us, He also desires for us to relate to Him. He came to live among His people to model how to relate to one another.
One of the most significant versus in the Bible is in Matthew 22:37-40: "Love the
Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment.
The second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
The word love has been used and abused throughout the centuries and thousands of books have been published interpreting the significance of love, so let's introduce a few questions that help identify the love demonstrations between a couple.
Often Marriage and Family Therapists begin a session with a focus on how the couple interacts and shows affection. Is there a friendship between them or a connection at all and if so is it purely physical? Do they trust each other? It is important to know how they connect or bond with one another. Do they feel protected as well as respected and do they feel they can count on each other no matter what. How the couple communicates is vital. How they solve conflict is also important. In most relationships there will be disagreements, but how they are worked through is critical.
What God models best is that being in relationships can be difficult because it often means having to give up our wants and needs. Being in a relationship takes sacrificial love to forgo one's own goals and dreams. This goes beyond being united or part of the team. It is the selfless act of wanting the other to succeed, to be part of the same team fighting and defending for the same objectives. This sacrificial love is not an obligation, but a desire to serve one another due to the commitment to the relationship, even if there is no benefit to the giver.
We can rely on His Word for guidance, though not everything is spelled out for us in the Bible. Jesus Christ demonstrated the ultimate sacrifice when He laid His life down for all of us. I believe that there is only one God; He is also known through Jesus Christ (our Advocate) and the Holy Spirit. No verse in the New Testament describes sacrificial love better than John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
In order to put the relationship ahead of the individual one must put his or her needs and desires aside and follow Christ's example of sacrificial love. This is love in its truest manifestation.
Photo Credit: Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash
Legacy strategy Blog
Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.