Tag Archive: depression

Jan 09

The Troubled Journey: A Parable of Life, Obstacles, and Hope

This week I am excited to share a parable written by my son.  It’s an amazing picture of what I’ve observed personally in my own life and as a counselor who sits with many people on a troubled journey.

Troubled Journey

There was once a person, who sat, troubled. For this person had been on a journey, and had come to a cliff blocking their path. They saw no bridge to cross it, and saw no way around it for the air was too dark. So they sat, wondering if their journey had come to an end. After what seemed like a very long time of sitting and staring, they began to question if they need only walk off the cliff. And up they stood, with rash, to walk off. 

But then they saw something approaching them in the darkness. A spirit had come to them. The spirit seemed to have a familiar face and they greeted the spirit as one does. Then the spirit turned them around. And all of a sudden, they felt comforted by a presence that had always been with them but they had never noticed. They saw that the path behind them was light, and they saw many faces all smiling towards them. Many faces of which they knew as old friends, and many faces of which were unknown to them.

Guided by the comforting presence they walked to the smiling people and told them their problem. Then all of the smiling people walked to the edge and began to form a bridge. All together the smiling people formed a bridge and for the first time the person, once troubled, could see the other side of the cliff. So they walked across the bridge with the comforting presence. While walking across, they almost fell many times, but whenever they did the comforting presence carried them back to balance.

Eventually, they crossed the bridge and stood at the other side that once did not exist to them. The smiling people stood together with them and they began to walk the new path they saw. And through the time walking this path they crossed many cliffs where the smiling people made bridges for them, and they helped make many bridges for others of the smiling people who then frowned. But they could always tell that the comforting presence was with them, either guiding or carrying.

Written by Nathan Thompson

Everyone sees something a little bit different in this parable. Please comment below with your thoughts and reflections. Like it? Please share it on social media. There is always hope!

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/troubled-journey/

Oct 03

Help I Feel Bad. Are Negative Emotions Really a Bad Thing?

emotionsEmotions get a bad wrap in our culture. Somehow we have decided that it is okay to accept some emotions while labeling others as negative or bad. In doing that we somehow communicate to ourselves and our kids that certain emotions are normal and others are abnormal.
I can’t begin to tell you how many people come into my office with problems because they:
  • think they are crazy for having feelings
  • ignore their feelings and now they are too big to ignore
  • they see no useful value in feelings yet are confused as to why they are stuck
  • they are frustrated with some relationship in their life
Let me first say, EVERYONE HAS FEELINGS!!!! (There, I FEEL better).
It is perfectly normal to feel, emotions don’t make you crazy but actually NORMAL. Yes, that is right, feelings are perfectly normal. WHAT?? Even the “bad” ones like anxiety, grief, sadness and anger? Yes, even those are completely and totally NORMAL!
It is perfectly normal to feel, emotions don’t make you crazy but actually NORMAL. Click To Tweet
Somehow, we have lost an understanding of the purpose and benefit of emotions.  Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of problems like: clinical anxiety disorders, major depression, relationship problems, and addiction issues.
Emotions are a God given, God designed signal system, similar to our senses. Click To Tweet
One of the ways that humans uniquely image God is our emotional nature. Click To Tweet
God and EmotionsEmotions are God given. God is an emotional God who feels all range of emotions, even the ones we label as bad. One of the ways that humans uniquely image God is our emotional  nature. God designed emotions to be a signal system, similar to our senses. We collect information about the physical world through our five senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch). No one labels one of these senses as bad, just because they smell something bad. Your nose is just giving you information. There is a bad smell; I think I should leave the room (this may or may not happen a lot in my house…because I live with boys).   Our senses serve to protect and guide us through the physical world.
Emotions work in a similar way. We get information about the relational world through feelings (sad, angry, afraid, happy, content, shame, safe, love, alone etc.). Emotions give us information. They tell us what we need and give us energy to take action. Emotions serve to protect and guide us in the relational world.
If you ignore a feeling, that is trying to give you information and you aren’t listening…it will get LOUDER. I mean, wouldn’t you get louder if you were trying to get someone’s attention?? So ignoring, stuffing, numbing, or denying a feeling only creates louder feelings. These louder feelings are what send some into panic, depression, or fits of rage. Not only that, if you ignore, stuff, numb, or deny the “bad” feelings…then you mute the “good” feelings too. This is not at all what we want. We numb or ignore because we want the good feelings…but maybe that’s not the way to get them. Maybe we must accept that there are times when we will feel needed hard feelings like sadness or fear and that is okay, normal, and healthy.
Emotions serve to protect and guide us in the relational world. Click To Tweet
Another reason people avoid emotions is because they don’t like the feeling and are concerned they will get “stuck” in a certain emotion. Emotions are not permanent states of being. We feel a variety of different things throughout the day. Emotions ebb and flow like running water. Yet not acknowledging or accepting a feeling does cause it to linger and sometimes it takes a while for us to process something that has happened.
Emotions are not permanent states of being. Click To Tweet
So what can you do to start paying attention to the signals your emotions give you:
  • Give yourself permission to feel.
  • Validate your emotions. Let it be okay, seen, and experienced.
  • Pay attention to the emotions as they flow throughout the day, name them, write them down.
  • What message is the emotion giving you, what do you need? Contemplate this before you act.
  • Share your emotion and need with a safe person (someone who loves you as you are, flaws and all).
  • Watch the movie Inside Out for more help on understanding feelings and their purpose (such a good movie…I can’t even begin to say how much I love it and how accurate it is in explaining emotions).
  • Seek help. Counselors can help give you language for emotion and will walk you through this process with a specific focus on you, your history, and your issues.
Feelings serve to help us identify needs, connect in relationships, and heal from hurts and traumas. To deny this aspect of your self is like living life on mute instead of full stereo sound OR in black/white instead of full color! Let’s live life in full color and embrace a life full of emotions.
“Don’t be afraid.  Don’t give up.  The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty enough to save you.  He will take great delight in you.  The quietness of his love will calm you down.  He will sing with joy because of you.”  Zephaniah 3:16-17

If you like what you read, please comment below or share on social media. ❤️

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/negative-emotions/

Sep 01

Feelings: What’s the Point??

feelingsI can’t begin to tell you how many people come into my office with problems because they:
  • think they are crazy for having feelings
  • ignore their feelings and now they are too big to ignore
  • they see no useful value in feelings yet are confused as to why they are stuck
  • they are frustrated with some relationship in their life
Let me first say, EVERYONE HAS FEELINGS!!!! (There, I FEEL better).
It is perfectly normal to feel, emotions don’t make you crazy but actually NORMAL. Click To Tweet
It is perfectly normal to feel, emotions don’t make you crazy but actually NORMAL. Yes, that is right, feelings are perfectly normal. WHAT?? Even the “bad” ones like anxiety and sadness and anger? Yes, even those are completely and totally NORMAL!
Somehow, we have lost an understanding of the purpose and benefit of emotions. We have decided that they are for the super emotional, nurturing types (like touchy feely counselors) but that “normal” people don’t talk about, acknowledge or express feelings. Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of problems like: clinical anxiety disorders, major depression, relationship problems, and addiction issues.
Emotions are a God given, God designed signal system, similar to our senses. Click To Tweet
Emotions are a God given, God designed signal system, similar to our senses. We collect information about the physical world through our five senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch). No one labels one of these senses as bad, just because they smell something bad. They just give you information. There is a bad smell; I think I should leave the room (this may or may not happen a lot in my house…boys).   Our senses serve to protect and guide us through the physical world.
Emotions work in a similar way. We get information about the relational world through feelings (sad, angry, afraid, happy, content, shame, safe, love, alone etc.). Emotions give us information. They tell us what we need and give us energy to take action. Emotions serve to protect and guide us in the relational world.
Emotions serve to protect and guide us in the relational world. Click To Tweet
If you ignore a feeling, because it is trying to give you information and you aren’t listening…it will get LOUDER. I mean, wouldn’t you get louder if you were trying to get someone’s attention?? So ignoring, stuffing, numbing, or denying a feeling only creates louder feelings. These louder feelings are what send some into panic, depression, or fits of rage. Not only that, if you ignore, stuff, numb, or deny the “bad” feelings…then you mute the “good” feelings too. YIKES!
Another reason people avoid emotions is because they don’t like the feeling and are concerned they will get “stuck” in a certain emotion. Emotions are not permanent states of being. We feel a variety of different things throughout the day. Emotions ebb and flow like running water.
Emotions are not permanent states of being. Click To Tweet
So what can you do to start paying attention to the signals your emotions give you:
  • Give yourself permission to feel.
  • Pay attention to the emotions as they flow throughout the day, name them, write them down.
  • What message is the emotion giving you, what do you need?
  • Share your emotion and need with a safe person (someone who loves you as you are, flaws and all)
  • Watch the movie Inside Out for more help on understanding feelings and their purpose (such a good movie…I can’t even begin to say how much I love it).
  • Seek help. Counselors can help give you language for emotion and will walk you through this process with a specific focus on you, your history, and your issues.
Emotions serve to help us identify needs, connect in relationships, and heal from hurts and traumas. To deny this aspect of your self is like living life on mute instead of full stereo sound OR in black/white instead of full color!
“Don’t be afraid.  Don’t give up.  The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty enough to save you.  He will take great delight in you.  The quietness of his love will calm you down.  He will sing with joy because of you.”  Zephaniah 3:16-17

If you like what you read, please comment below or share on social media. ❤️

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/feelings-whats-the-point/

Mar 18

Help! My Thoughts Won’t Stop!!

As a counselor, one of the common things people struggle with are what I call spinning or out of control thoughts.  The psychological term for this is rumination and we all struggle with this.  Usually we ruminate about a fear or worry.  We are worried and afraid, so we continually think about it to try and solve it or fix it.  Often we are trying to think our way out of a feeling!
Mindfulness is very big in psychology right now and has proven very helpful with rumination.  Mindfulness has personally helped a lot of clients.
Mindfulness Overview
Mindfulness has to do with the quality of awareness that we bring to what we are doing and experiencing, to being in the here and now.  It has to do with learning to focus on being in the present, to focusing our attention on what we are doing and what is happening in the present. We have to learn to control our attention. Many of us are distracted by images, thoughts and feelings of the past, perhaps dissociating, worrying about the future, negative moods and anxieties about the present.   It’s hard to put these things away and concentrate on the task at hand.
So the One-mindfulness skill is an effort to help us focus our attention on the here and now, to be able to absorb the DBT information and take part in the present. Please do not judge yourselves about this. This can be a difficult skill for people to learn. It requires lots of practice and willingness. Be patient with yourself.”
From DBT Self Help
Mindfulness is a Biblical Idea.  Although, these concepts are fairly new to psychology, the principles and concepts are found in scripture.
  • Be Fully Present in the Current Moment with God
    • “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:9
    • “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices” Psalm 37:7
    • “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 46:8
  • In the present moment, notice how God cares for the world around you and for you in very practical ways! God wants our focus to be in the present of today’s moments!
    • “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6: 25-34
    • When Jesus deals with his disciple’s anxiety, He points out what He observes in the present moment around them. Look at the birds, consider the flowers. Sometimes, just simply observing the world with our senses (smell, taste, touch, sight) can bring mental calm. If nothing else, counting your breaths and slowing them can bring physical calm. Jesus keeps them in the present moment by telling them to only focus on today.
  • Christian Mindfulness is Rest for your soul! In emotional distress, the Bible indicates that God wants us to come to Him and find rest. What specific activities keep you in the present moment with Jesus and give you rest?
    • “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28
    • “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
  • Don’t assume your judgment of your thoughts or feelings is truth (just observe your thoughts or feelings without judgment in the moment). Observe the thought and test it against God’s Word
    • Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26
    • “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
    • “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things.” Philippians 4:8
Mindfulness Examples
Mindfulness involves:
Awareness: What is going on around me, what do I see, what do I smell, what do I taste, how do things feel as I touch them?
Nonjudgmental View of Thoughts: Thoughts or feelings aren’t bad or good, normal or abnormal. They are  just thoughts and feelings.  They flow in and out like water.
Staying in the Moment: This may be the hardest part for those that focus on the past or worry about the future.
Takes Practice: This takes practice during non-emotional times so that it becomes easier to do during emotionally overwhelming times. Practice staying in the moment and observing what you notice with your senses during showers, brushing teeth, or during daily chores. Click Here for samples of mindfulness exercises.

If you like what you read, please comment below or share on social media. ❤️

rest and hope in God

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/thoughts/

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