Counseling for Hope is the therapy practice for Aimee Thompson, MA, LPC. I am a trauma informed Christian therapist offering services to women and teen girls in the state of Texas.
I offer telehealth video and phone sessions in a safe, secure HIPPA compliant environment. Online sessions provide the same counseling experience but add safety, convenience, comfort, and flexibility. It is all the counseling and none of the commute! I have worked hard over the last several weeks to innovate and adapt how I counsel for an online environment. Distance and commute is no longer a barrier to getting help. Contact me for more information or schedule a phone consultation.
To spread help and hope during this time of crisis, I am posting regular help videos to my Facebook and Instagram pages.
For immediate anxiety help, click this link to find calming skills videos or check out my blog.
Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/telehealth-sessions-available/
Feeling anxious? Want to learn calming skills? Not sure what to do? Anxiety can be a very miserable experience because of the physical process that goes along with it. Keep reading to learn why what you might have tried before doesn’t work and what can work.
What Does Not Work and Why
Often we think we need to solve the problem creating fear and anxiety to calm our fear and anxiety. This is a problem for several reasons:
- Focusing on the problem or your body’s response to this problem grows the fear and anxiety. Especially if the problem is out of your power and control to solve.
- When your sympathetic nervous system is activated and preparing for fight or flight, you lose the ability to think rationally and calmly. As a result, finding solutions or shifting your focus to solvable problems becomes challenging.
What Does Work
So what do you need when your body is escalating in energy? You need to slow it down. Then, your mind and emotions will follow and you will be able to think more logically. The first indications of anxiety will be found not in your mind but in your body. Therefore, learning calming skills designed to slow down your body is the fastest way to calm your emotions and mind. Below you will find calming skills videos that help you learn how to do this through a variety of skills that focus on helping your physical body slow down.
Slow Your Breathing to Calm Your Body
Add Visualization to Breathing to Help Calm
Want to read more on anxiety? Check out my other blogs. Live in Texas and want to work with me? Click on the right to schedule a new client phone consultation and send me an email.
Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/calming-skills/
Emotions Don’t Define Us: Reconsider Your View of Them
I’ve written quite a bit about emotions and their purpose for us. They give us information and they are wise friends who speak truth into us. Yet this morning I am reflecting on the idea that often we allow our emotions to define us. Emotions were never meant to define….that is a distortion we create when we misunderstand their purpose.
Emotions were never meant to define us. Click To Tweet
They are information givers. I love this quote I heard on Anne with an E (an awesome show on Netflix): “Emotion is rarely convenient and often intolerable but I find in the moment that I don’t mind it. Grief is the price you pay for love.”
Grief is the price you pay for love. Click To Tweet
Emotion is rarely convenient and often intolerable but I find in the moment that I don’t mind it. Click To Tweet
She gets it. We don’t have to feel good to be okay. We can be okay no matter how we feel because emotions are not definitions. They indicate something has happened in our past or present that needs attending to.
Emotions indicate something has happened in our past or present that needs attending to Click To Tweet
Maybe it’s grief that is being processed to incorporate loss into life. Maybe it’s shame from abuse in the past that needs to be challenged. Maybe it’s fear telling us something is wrong and we need to look at it. These are valuable tools for growth and change. Listening to them and seeing the problem helps us grow, mature, and change.
Listening to emotions and seeing the problem helps us grow, mature, and change. Click To Tweet
I’ve walked in my own story of grief over the last two months and I am sure it will continue. I find sadness and grief come at unexpected times, indicating to me it’s time to stop and honor my memories, my sadness, and acknowledge my loss. I sit with many people whose emotions give them clues to healing and change that needs to happen.
Please don’t dismiss your emotions as invaluable or unimportant. Please don’t let them define who you are but allow them to be what they are…beautiful signals communicating to us information that we would be wise to consider. Need help understanding what your emotions are saying, a counselor can help.
Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/emotions-dont-define/
Video Blog: Anxiety and Philippians 4, Reading it Differently
This week I am trying something new…a video blog….and now apparently a YouTube channel. Yikes! Not sure about this. It feels super vulnerable but I’m hoping it is a new way to share helpful content with you guys.
Anxiety is something we all face and I am sure you’ve heard Philippians 4:6 and maybe you even get irritated with that verse because it is asking you to do something that seems impossible. How can I really be anxious for nothing?? I want to challenge us to look at this scripture with new eyes as we start in verse 4 to get the full context.
What stood out to me the most as I was talking was how God does this work in us of reducing our anxiety….it’s not from us…it’s from Him. Now that is good news.
Things I have learned already about video blogging: landscape mode is best!! Oh well, one take and here it is. Please feel free to leave comments or direct message me on topics you would like to see covered.
I’ve attached the scripture (with my notes) below!!
Originally posted on my YouTube Channel: Counseling4Hope
Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/philippians4/
Ladies, Trying to Control Everything Might Actually be Hurting You
Calling all busy moms and wives trying to do it all. Do you find yourself exhausted? Worn out? If your answer is yes, let me say. Stop, sit down, take a deep long slow breath in, hold it, then let it out. Take a few minutes to just be fully present in this moment. I have been where you are and I am hoping to bring you good news!! Get comfortable and take five minutes to yourself, to keep reading.
Back to how tired you are. I have a few more questions. Is your fatigue because of all you have to do OR is it because of a very busy mind. Caring for others comes with worry. Worry leads to control because if we are in control then we don’t have to worry. This brings chaos.
What? That makes no sense. Control keeps things in order, in place and helps me protect my family.
Yes, it appears to be a good thing that seems protective. I know you’re thinking if I’m in charge of what goes on in my life, then I can rest. That’s true if you actually have power over something. But worrying and the mental exhaustion that comes from predicting every possible outcome so you can be prepared, actually creates inner chaos. This is anything but rest.
You see there are certain things in life that you have no power over. I think they fall in 3 broad categories.
Forces of Nature: We have no power over the weather, natural disasters, or laws of the universe.
Emotions: Emotions happen and bypass our prefrontal cortex. They are a felt experience that gives us information like our senses. (For more on emotions, click here).
Other People: This encompasses the largest part of life that is really outside of our control. We have no power to actually change another person or chose what they do (or don’t do). Yes, that even includes your kids and your husbands. You can make requests, have influence, and even rules with consequences…but another person’s actions and choices belong only to them.
Controllers (and we all wear this label at times if we are honest) actually create for themselves inner chaos. Why? Because controllers are focused on where they are powerless. To do this they travel many exhausting mental loops trying to figure out a problem that has no solution that is actually within their power. Chaos results.
The answer? Accept what you can’t control and embrace what you can. You see focusing too much on the things we can’t control drains us of our personal power to act. When we focus on we have power we can harness that power into action. So what can you control? Oh, so much.
Your response, actions, reactions, choices, decisions, thoughts, beliefs, values, boundaries, who you chose to be in relationship with, and so much more. Shifting our focus is empowering and freeing.
Focusing too much on the things we can't control drains us of our power to act. Click To Tweet
When we focus on what we can control then we harness that power into action. Click To Tweet
If you are a Christian, accepting what you can control allows you to surrender to the sovereignty of God….the one who really does have power over all. The one who loves your kids and husband more than you do. When we as believers try to control everything, we are stepping into God’s domain, violating God’s boundary. There are certain areas that are only His to control, this is what can truly bring rest. “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:31-34
So beloved, rest in what you can control and let go of what you can’t. Only then will you find true peace. It’s not a perfect process, we all will over-control things at times. Recognizing it, giving ourselves grace, and shifting our focus again; we move on. If this is a huge struggle for you? Consider working with a counselor who can help you make this shift.
“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” Dolly Parton
We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. Dolly Parton Click To Tweet
Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/control/
How to Get the Most Out of Counseling
Counseling is an investment. It’s an investment in you. An investment in the healing of present and past pain so it doesn’t continue to impact you in the same way.
Counseling is an investment. It's an investment in you. Click To Tweet
Counseling isn’t just another person to talk to but sitting with a highly trained person who is skilled to be fully present with you, fully attuned to what you say (verbally and non-verbally), and trained to see connections and patterns that you can’t see. This just scratches the surface of what a counselor does and doesn’t cover the hours of research or prep that they do for each client they see.
Counseling isn't just a person to talk to but a person trained to be fully present with you Click To Tweet
Since counseling is a big investment, you want to get the most out of the time (and money) you spend in therapy. Here are some suggestions about making the most out of counseling.
Since counseling is a big investment, you want to get the most out of the time (and money). Click To Tweet
Take the time to choose the right therapist. The research suggests that one of the greatest factors that contribute to therapeutic success is the relationship or rapport between the counselor and the client. Now that’s a fancy way of saying, you need to click with your therapist and feel safe and comfortable with them. This means that if you take the time to call and speak with different counselors on the phone, ask them questions about their approach, tell them what you are looking for, and see who you feel most comfortable with….you will improve your chances of success in therapy!!! Who you choose as a counselor matters
Who you choose as a counselor matters. Click To Tweet
Know what you are looking to gain. Know what you are looking for. Are you looking to reduce anxiety, heal a past hurt, mend a relationship? Whatever it is, have some idea. This gives both you and your counselor a goal to work towards. Now you very well may find other goals along the journey. This happens frequently. Having an initial idea of what you are looking for, makes it easier to measure progress.
Be ready. Most of us want change but not all of us are ready for it. We may be scared of change or doubt it is even possible. I know it is scary to consider a change. But if you are looking for life to be different, what do you have to lose? Readiness to change is a combination of both openness and willingness. Open to go down whatever road the healing journey takes you and willing to do the work necessary to create change.
Readiness to change is a combination of both openness and willingness. Click To Tweet
Be honest with your counselor, what do you have to lose? Counselors are an interesting breed of people. They aren’t shocked or surprised by hurt, trauma, and pain. They don’t judge. They want you to feel safe to share your deepest pain and secrets. They are bound by confidentiality and won’t share it with anyone. Why not be completely open and honest with them about what is really going on? If you aren’t, you will delay your healing and lengthen the amount of time you are in therapy.
Be open to try what the counselor suggests both in session and out of session. Counselors spend a lot of time researching interventions that will help their clients on their healing journey. Interventions may be homework, letter writing, breathing skills, calming skills, journaling, art therapy, education, or experiential in session interventions. They may ask you to talk with an empty chair or close your eyes and visualize something. Whatever it is they ask you to do, I promise you, it is to benefit your healing journey. So be all in.
Don’t try to rush the process. Counseling isn’t a quick, instant fix. It takes time to build the relationship, time for patterns to emerge and time for interventions to done and processed. Gaining insight and healing wounds takes time and isn’t a linear process but more of an up and down journey. So, don’t be in such a hurry that you don’t allow yourself the time to really sit with new insights and let them deepen.
Build momentum. Counseling works by the momentum of meeting weekly. Insights are processed over the course of a week and built upon during the next session. If you don’t meet weekly with your therapist then the momentum slows down and the process takes longer. Sometimes the process loses it’s effectiveness because of the loss of momentum. My goal with my clients is to meet weekly, build momentum and the relationship, until it becomes therapeutically beneficial to take more time between sessions. Meaning, I want to work myself out of a job and am constantly assessing where I am with each client. Weekly momentum makes a huge impact on the time it takes to reach counseling goals.
Be open to talking about the counseling relationship with your counselor. If you are uncomfortable or have any concerns about the relationship with your counselor bring it into session. You will notice that a lot of counselors automatically do this and are attuned to your shifts. Discussing the relationship in session is a big part of the counseling process. If you are reacting to a counselor in a certain way, you’re probably reacting to someone in your life that way as well. Process it with your counselor so you can better understand you. Not sure that you are making progress or clicking with your counselor? Ask, talk about it. We’re trained to talk about the relationship and are completely okay with it!!
Take note of insights you gain during the process. Counseling generates a lot of insight.Therefore, I would encourage you to write your insights down. You could take note of them in session, right after session, during the week as you reflect on the session, or all of the above. Insights are powerful and help us mentally shift and change. Taking note of them will help solidify the insights.
Counseling is a valuable investment anytime you find yourself stuck and struggling in life, especially if you’ve had a complicated and painful life story. You may spend a season of time in counseling that changes your quality of life for the present and the future. Just take a minute to really think about that!! If you decide counseling would benefit you and live in the McKinney, Texas area, reach out and schedule a free phone consultation. If you don’t live close, I hope these tips help you make the most of your counseling journey. God doesn’t want you to live broken, ashamed, and stuck.
God doesn't want you to live broken, ashamed, and stuck. Click To Tweet
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Still not sure if the counseling investment is one you are ready to make? Click the image below to read a great article by my friend and colleague Allison Hutson, LPC-Intern supervised by David Dickerson, LPC-S.
Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/get-the-most-out-of-counseling/
Wanting an Instant Fix: How Our Instant-Upload Culture has Distorted Our Perspective on Change
Instant fix. Sounds nice doesn’t it? Isn’t that what we’ve come to expect….a instant quick fix. I wonder if we have the right view of change? That may sound like a silly question. But seriously, how long do you think real life change takes?
You see I’m wondering if we have unrealistic expectations when it comes to a lot of things, especially change. It’s not our fault. The rapidly changing world of technology has lulled us into this mindset.
Today we can quickly take a picture and immediately edit it and share it with all our friends. There’s an actor’s name we can’t remember or some information we need…no problem, just grab your phone and search for it. Need to know how to get somewhere, just type it in the maps app and bam, up come directions. Want to see a movie? Check for times quickly on your phone and even get tickets.
The rapidly changing world of technology has lulled us into a instant fix mindset. Click To Tweet
I know I’m about to sound really old…but I remember a time when we had to WAIT for all of those things. We had to drop film off (praying and hoping we took one good picture) and wait a week to pick it up. We had to drive to the library to research anything. We had to find a map, figure out the route ourselves, and figure out how to fold the darn thing back up. We had to call the movie theater and hope it didn’t have a busy signal (that’s the beeping sound when the line was busy…man I’m feeling old) so we could sit through the list of times recorded by the theatre….or better yet and simpler, we would just drive to the theatre and pick a movie that was showing.
I’m not even scratching the surface of how life has changed over the last 30 years.
Now I am a HUGE fan of this advancement in technology. Cell phones and apps have revolutionized everything and I am grateful. So much has been simplified and streamlined. Yet, we’ve lost a few things along the way.
So much comes easy now that we’ve forgotten life's not that simple. Click To Tweet
So many things come so quickly and easily now that we’ve forgotten that not everything in life happens that way. Sometimes things happen in life and there isn’t an instant fix. In fact, an instant fix would not really even solve the problem. Some things in life are meant to take time.
Some things in life are meant to take time. Click To Tweet
Now we are willing to wait for pleasant things (aka…standing in line for concert tickets, roller coasters, meeting someone famous, really good food, etc.) But, are we willing to wait for things that aren’t as easy but take time? Things like:
Healing from Betrayal
No one wants to walk through those hard things. No one. But we all will face one if not several in our lifetime. So many come into counseling and want to rush the process. They don’t like the emotions they feel, it takes too long, it’s not easy, or simple. So they avoid, numb, deny, or distract themselves with more technology, another relationship, or some other dysfunctional coping strategy. This delays real healing.
So many come into counseling and want to rush the process delaying healing. Click To Tweet
Healing the body, the mind, the soul, or relationships takes time. It’s not a quick insta-change process. Yet real healing and real change is worth the wait and perseverance it takes to get there. Don’t be afraid of a slower process. It’s normal, good and necessary for lasting change.
Yet real healing and real change is worth the wait and perseverance it takes to get there. Click To Tweet
Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/instant-fix/
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.
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: https://counseling4hope.com/troubled-journey/
Peace, Rest, and Joy are the Gifts You Really Want
I’ve written several Christmas blog posts over the last few years. All have been geared to help us (women in particular) eliminate stress this time of year by letting go of the idea of a perfect Christmas. To read them click here (The Not Perfect Christmas and Hope for the Holidays)
This year, I’ve been thinking more about what I really want for Christmas:
These words jump off the page and fill us with longing. No matter how life is going for you right now, whether mostly good or horribly difficult….my guess is you still long for peace, rest, and joy. You get glimpses of each throughout each day yet we all go to bed weary longing for more.
Our experience of peace is directly connected to our ability to surrender and abide in the true vine, Jesus. John 14-17 is full of a mixture of Jesus talking to his disciples about peace but also worldly sorrow and struggle. Its interesting because struggle and peace don’t coexist in our minds very well. I wonder if we believe on some level that peace means the absence of trouble? Yet scripture doesn’t teach that at all. Here Jesus tells his disciples that they will definitely have trouble in the world. He had trouble and his biggest trouble was about to happen when he is arrested in John 18. To expect a trouble free life when our Savior’s life was full of trouble doesn’t make a lot of sense. Yet we do….deep down we long for things to go well. Maybe that’s the part of us that knows the world is broken and longs for real peace. Our mistake is seeking it apart from Jesus or seeing the pain in this world as something God has inflicted upon us..
Our experience of peace is directly connected to our ability to really surrender. Click To Tweet
True rest, peace, and joy only come from Jesus. Click To Tweet
True rest, peace, and joy only come from Jesus.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Every other place and thing we expect to bring us true rest, peace, and joy doesn’t last. They are only a taste of what’s available when we abide in Jesus and a taste of what is to come when all things are made new.
To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must abide, remain, or dwell with Jesus. Click To Tweet
To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must abide, remain, or dwell with Jesus.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ” John 15:4-5
This idea is a continual connectedness. Clearly Jesus is talking to believers in this passage because he says they “are already clean” (John 15:3). So it seems that we can be saved and chose not to abide in Christ. I think stress, busyness, pain, difficulty, struggle, and selfishness are all things that distract us and contribute to a lack of abiding. Abiding is a moment by moment choice to surrender to God and not a one time thing. Salvation (justification) is a one time thing.
Abiding is a moment by moment choice to surrender to God. Click To Tweet
To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must let God's love flow in and out of us. Click To Tweet
To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must let God’s love flow in and out of us.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:9-17
There are two parts to this: accepting how much God loves you and loving others. For many, accepting how much God loves you is really hard. We all know how broken we are and how much we’ve done that we know violates God’s law. It’s the story written throughout scripture, starting in Genesis. God loving a people that can’t obey his law. There was no one that earned God’s love. In fact, God loved us all so much that he sent Jesus to fulfill the law on our behalf. It’s a pure, sacrificial love of a unlovable, unfaithful people. That’s the love God has for you, not based on what you’ve done or not done or what’s been done to you…but a love based on the gracious, mercy of the Giver. As I reflect on how amazing God’s love is, I’m in awe. It’s this love that we pour out to others…not because they’ve earned it but because we’ve been on the receiving end of undeserved love….now we get to give it…not in our own strength but through the power of the Holy Spirit.
God loves you, not based on what you've done or not done or what's been done to you. Click To Tweet
To experience real rest, peace, and joy we must expect hard times and find our anchor in Jesus. Click To Tweet
To experience real rest, peace, and joy we must expect hard times and find our anchor in Jesus.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I’m not sure why we are always so surprised by stress and struggle but we are. Somewhere we have an expectation that life should be easier than it is. Jesus never promised an easy life…but he did promise to provide us with peace in our difficult life (Romans 8) and hope for the future (Revelation 21). As we walk into a very busy, stressful season of the year, one that is meant to point us to the amazing time where God gave us the gracious gift of Jesus, let us remember rest, peace, joy, and hope. Rest that you don’t have to do anything to earn your salvation…Jesus did it all for you. Celebrate the peace you have with God because of Jesus and pursue the internal peace that comes from abiding in Jesus. Allow joy to overflow because of the love God pours into you. And, claim hope because one day all things will be made new and we won’t have to any longer choose to abide with God because he will physically be with us.
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” Revelation 21:1-7
This Christmas, I want to give the greatest Giver of all my moment by moment surrender. Let’s not just give lip service to the idea of surrender but think about what it means to really lay down all to Jesus. The amazing thing is that as I give this gift to Jesus, he gives me what I really need….peace, rest, joy, and hope. Is it easy? No. Will I fail? Yes. Beloved, God knows our weaknesses. He doesn’t expect perfection. He is our perfection. He just wants a surrendered relationship with his beloved.
This Christmas, I want to give the greatest Giver of all my moment by moment surrender. Click To Tweet
Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/peace-rest-joy/
Parenting Struggles? Master the Art of Understanding
We all want be heard, seen, valued, and understood for who we really are. We desire unconditional love and acceptance. This isn’t debatable. We all recognize this desire, right? Isn’t this behind all the fairy tale romance stories and the cry for tolerance? See me, know me, love me, warts and all.
Maybe we focus so much on being understood that we forget to really understand those we love. Enter our children. Did you know they have that drive too? Kids need to be fully known, loved and accepted first by their parents. I’ve sat with people who did not experience this in their childhood and are dealing with the impacts this has left on them. The opposite of being understood is rejection. If a child doesn’t feel fully understood and accepted first at home, they may be sensitive to rejection in the future.
Now, I know we are put on this earth to guide, teach, train, and discipline our kids. Yet, I think sometimes we focus only on the externals and we miss what is going on in their heads and hearts. We miss their insecurities or their fears. Our kids are more than grades, athletic accomplishments, or artistic performances. They are more than their behavior.
We all want be heard, seen, valued, and understood for who we really are. Click To Tweet
Maybe we focus so much on being understood that we forget to really understand those we love. Click To Tweet
If their behavior is rebellious, ugly, or emotional, they may be struggling in a way that they don’t feel safe to share with you.
If their behavior is always good, they may be attaching their identity to never making a mistake and this is a recipe for anxiety.
Behavior is just one component of personality. We are physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual beings. Behavior is the physical domain. It seems to me that as parents we focus a lot on that aspect of our children and less on the mental, emotional, or spiritual domains. Why is that? Well it’s much easier, right? But I know you want to raise a child who is confident in all areas of who they are, not just that demonstrates good behavior. And what if, by seeking to understand them in all areas you have an impact on their behavior.
I have witnessed many kids who have great behavior but are stressed and overwhelmed trying to maintain the “perfect” life. Just looking at their achievements and grades, you wouldn’t know how much they are struggling. But there are moments that it comes out. You see, the danger of focusing only on behavior, good or bad, is raising kids who focus on the external things they do or ahieve for their sense of value. Now I am not anti-discipline, this is needed (ask my kiddos we have rules and limits in our home). However, relationship and understanding your kids comes first. How do you know what discipline will work if there is no understanding?
Let’s face it, feeling understood is extremely powerful.
Let's face it, feeling understood is extremely powerful. Click To Tweet
Pause and think of a time you felt completely seen, loved, and accepted for who you really are? Visualize the moment. Who gave you that feeling? How did they do it? What would you have done for that person? How did you feel toward them? It’s an incredible feeling right? Did you know you have the ability, the superpower, to give this experience to your kid? Can you see how it might change everything?
So how do you learn understanding and give your child the experience of being understood?
- Get to know them. Use the phrase “tell me more”. Tell me more about (what’s behind the tears, the emotional outburst, the difficult situation, etc.).
- Validate their feelings. This sounds fancy but it is simply letting their feelings be valid and real, no matter what they are. Regardless of how you would react in the situation, their perspective and feelings are what they are. Let them be that. Tell them you see it and remember a time you felt that way. “You really seem happy about something, tell me about it” (see how I combined them both) OR “Wow, you are really upset about this, tell me more about how that hurt you”. “That’s so sad, I’ve been sad to and it’s hard”. Let it be okay for them to feel what they feel. Be a safe place for their feelings. This helps them learn to validate their own feelings as they grow.
- Learn what matters to them and how they are struggling. Listen to understand and not fix things.
- No matter what, start and end things with how much you love them.
- Compliment effort not results. “Wow I saw your grades, it took a lot of hard work and I admire how much time you invest in your studies”.
- Be real about your own struggles.
- Spend time with them. Have fun. Be silly. Take a genuine interest in what interests them. (don’t ask me how much I know about all kinds of things that I wouldn’t know if it weren’t for my kids….star wars, star trek, magic the gathering, pokemon, legos, marvel comics, etc etc etc.)
- When in doubt, ask them for guidance. Just be real
I challenge you to look at your kids differently this week, whatever their age. Seek understanding. What are their passions, who are their friends, what’s the latest thing they are interested in, what are their fears, or current struggles? Warning: don’t ask all that in one sitting. LOL. It doesn’t work. Understanding comes over time as you deliberately seek to take the time and opportunities that present themselves. I think learning about my teens and watching them grow into who God designed them to be rocks! I have to set aside my agenda sometimes but that’s okay…my stuff will be here long after they are grown. Let’s seize the moment when it comes.
Seize the moment when it comes to really understand your kids. It's your parenting superpower. Click To Tweet
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