Humor: Making Life Easier
January 30, 2018
Riddle: What is clear on the outside and gray on the inside? Read on for the answer! When people don’t play or laugh, it is easy to become overly serious and emotionally distraught. Depression has many characteristics including the inability to have fun, or moving in a sluggish manner. Many men exhibit their depression through anger, rage, violence, and irritability.
Ring out the Old, Ring in the New!
January 2, 2018
Alfred Lord Tennyson, in a poem entitled In Memoriam [Ring out, wild Bells] contemplated the change of the old year and the hope of a new year in these words:
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
A Christmas Prayer
December 18, 2017
Not gold, nor myrrh, nor even frankincense
would I have for you this season,
but simple gifts, the ones that are hardest to find,
the ones that are perfect.
Counting Blessings Instead of Sheep
December 4, 2017
As we move towards the end of the year, and Thanksgiving is past, people turn their attention to other Holidays, Christmas, Kwanza, and Chanukah. These holidays are also holidays based on gratitude. A perennial favorite for those who celebrate Christmas is the movie White Christmas starring Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace, and Rosemary Clooney as Betty Haynes.
November 20, 2017
In the past weeks I have discussed the phenomenon of gratitude, and provided evidence that practicing gratitude leads to sharper mental focus, a reduction of stress levels, and increased motivation. Research about gratitude has expanded in recent years. But some may ask how can I practice gratitude? There are several ways of practicing gratitude. These practices invite the person to stop and notice their blessings. Not only notice their blessings but to savor their blessings and share their blessings with others.
November 16, 2017
Since modern day researchers have found that living a life of gratitude improves lives in the psychological, social, spiritual, physical, and cognitive realms, you might wonder if practicing gratitude might help you in your life.
Does Gratitude Matter?
November 9, 2017
Thankfulness and gratitude have been considered religious and spiritual practices for millennia. Every major religion speaks of the importance of gratitude.
November 2, 2017
Yet another shooting tragedy has afflicted our city, community, and nation. Peace and blessings go to those family and friends that are affected by this senseless act.
October 30, 2017
In my last blog, I outlined the medieval theology of indulgences, a state of purification, to reduce punishment in Purgatory of the deceased. In the middle Ages, the church exacted money for the recompense of sins.
In my last blog, I wrote about the Reformer Martin Luther and that he struggled with chronic feelings of guilt and shame. In fact, he was known to have confessed continually for as long as six hours at a time. Despite his struggles with depression, shame, guilt, and obsessive and compulsive disorder, he challenged the Church and changed the world.
Martin Luther: A Reformer’s Shame
September 25, 2017
Over the past few weeks I have written about the difference between shame and guilt. Shame is that hideous feeling of feeling unworthy and unlovable, guilt is the feeling associated with having done something that misaligns with your values. The theologian, and reformer, Martin Luther, struggled with intense emotions of guilt and shame.
What are the Effects of Shame and Guilt?
September 7, 2017
Over the past month I have addressed the issue of shame in this blog. In my last blog (August 25, 2017), I wrote about Marin Clilic, and the public shaming that he received when he had a blister on his foot and lost a tennis match. Shame, as defined by Brené Brown, (2010) is “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging” (p. 39). Shame is often linked the harmful message that we are told as children.
Do You Want to Reduce the Amount you Drink? Try Mindfulness!
September 5, 2017
The term mindfulness is a popular term these days. I once had a client who used the term mindfulness in a way to that really meant that she wanted others to “be mindful” of what she wanted and demanded. This was a misuse of the idea of mindfulness. Passive-aggressively cloaked in the language of a spiritual practice; an example of pseudo-spirituality to gain power and control.
Mental Health and Back to School
August 25, 2017
Are you ready to send your children back to school? Mental Health America has provided free resources that address the mental health needs of returning students. Their resources aim to help parents, teachers, and students deal with the many emotions that kids experience with the demands of school.
Shame: A Social Emotion
August 24, 2017
Shame is being exposed and unprotected to the judgment and criticism of others. Often shame is a self-annihilation or an obliteration of self. Shame is ubiquitous in our American culture. We receive messages of not being good enough, in advertising, in the media, in sports, at school, and at home. Often our worth is based on our fame or fortune. Brené Brown explained that our culture often equates being ordinary with being boring, or even more dangerously, “ ordinary has become synonymous with meaninglessness ” (Brown, 2010, p. 84). In our culture to be ordinary or average is shameful.
What are the Effects of Shame and Guilt?
August 10, 2017
In my last blog, I discussed how some people maintain power by keeping secrets. When family members keep secrets about violence, abuse (spiritual, sexual, physical), bullying, drug and alcohol use, porn, or eating habits, family members often are working in a paradigm of shame. Shame is different than guilt. Guilt is the belief that “I have done something bad” or “I have done something that compromises my personal moral compass.” Shame is the debilitating belief that “I am bad.” Bad, defective, inadequate, impaired, damaged, abominable, deficient, awful, substandard, inferior; these are words associated with shame.
The Power of Secrets
July 27, 2017
The English word secret is derived from the Latin words se, meaning away, and cerno, meaning separate, therefore a secretive person separates their thoughts and puts them “carefully away from others” (Funk, 1950, p. 378). Some family members acquire power by separating their thoughts and actions from others. Secrets such as:
July 15, 2017
Responsibility, freedom, and accountability are linked to how we each respond to family rules. Often in dysfunctional families there are unspoken rules, often the assumed rules of “Don’t talk,” and “Don’t feel” were ways of control and power. When people are told to keep quiet and not feel they become numb to their own thoughts and feelings. When you or I deny the existence of thoughts and feelings, we deny our own humanity and emotional pain often occurs. This emotional pain and numbness can be debilitating.
Freedom and Responsibility
July 1, 2017
In the United States we celebrate our freedom on July Fourth. The founding fathers radically changed how humans understand freedom. The “shot heard around the world” spawned revolutions for freedom from France to Mexico, India, to South Africa. Freedom is an evolving concept; even now many people in the United States fear that their freedom and human rights will be revoked. Many people throughout the world are enslaved by some scheme or another. Yet, as many experience an unparalleled freedom, there is an increase of injustice; this may be related to another, often overlooked aspect of freedom, that of responsibility.
What about Fathers?
June 17, 2017
This weekend is Father's Day, whether you call him Dad, Daddy, Pop, Pa, Father, The Parental Unit, Baba, Vater, Pére, Padre, Abba, or The Old Man, fathers are an important part of a person’s life. We all have a biological father, someone who gave sperm to make you. Maybe your father is not your biological father, a father-surrogate, such as an uncle, brother, grandfather, neighbor, priest, pastor, rabbi, imam or teacher may serve as a father figure. Regardless of the type of relationship a strong bond with a Dad is important.
Sometimes everyone wonders how their own personal beliefs fit in with their personal struggles. Sometimes the link between spirit, faith, belief, reincarnation and forgiveness is unclear. Yet, for millennia religion and spirituality have been a part of the human condition. Humans are not like other living beings because of their ability to have abstract thought. With the ability to conceive thoughts, both positively and negatively, meaning, faith, trust, and belief are relevant regardless of the label we attach to ourselves (religious, spiritual, atheist, or agnostic). “Meaning,” which is sometimes considered to a component of faith, is a part of the human condition.