Archive for June, 2013

Might You Be in Need of Counseling? Find Out Here!

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Do you need counseling?  Do you want to find out?  Any anxiety raised by such an inquiry? Would you prefer to stay in a state of denial or delusion? Would you like confirmation that you are living a pretty healthy and balanced life?  There are a number of ways to get the answers to these questions.  One way would be to schedule an appointment with a qualified psychotherapist.  If you would prefer a more anonymous and private method, there are various self report questionnaires available that can give some insight as to whether a therapeutic process may be in order.

One such sponsor of this type of questionnaire is the website of Psychology Today. (Psychologytoday.com) If you go to this website there is a category named “Quiz Yourself”.  Under that heading is the “Do You Need Therapy” inventory.

There are thirteen categories, with a series of probing questions within each category.  The categories for evaluation are:

1. Relationships

2. Mood

3. Mood Swings and Irritability

4. Sexual Concerns

5. Alcohol and Drug Use

6. Anxiety

7. Fears

8. Obsessive or Compulsive Thoughts

9. Traumatic Experiences

10. Neediness

11. Eating Disorders

12. Impulsive Behavior

13. Confused Thinking

These categories are not meant to be inclusive of all mental health disorders.  They are some of the more common concerns that the general populace has. When you have finished the questionnaire you will receive a response that indicates whether therapy is indicated and, if so, what areas need to be explored.

Most people, unfortunately, do not know that they need therapy.  Often it takes a crisis to get their attention.  Many people like to remain oblivious, keeping their blinders (defenses) on so that they do not have to deal with the unhealthy part of their personality.  I will always remember a grateful fellow who said to me, after an insight gained, “John, thank you, I did not know what I didn’t know.”  All of us have parts of ourselves that impair our well being to some extent.  The key is how much impairment is really there.  It takes a trained therapist to bring accurate diagnosis and awareness to a person open enough to be evaluated. Most people appropriately see their physician for an annual checkup of their physical being, but resist a periodic checkup of their mental/emotional, relational life.  Short sighted, often with unnecessary painful ramifications.

I hope you find this article and the Psychology Today website helpful because…

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

What Do You Know About Your Passionate Side? These Tips May Help!

Friday, June 21st, 2013

The word “PASSION” resonates with power – an intense energy.  Passion has many definitions. For the purpose of this article I am using this one: “A strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept – an intense emotion compelling action”.

Recently I came across an interesting and challenging book entitled “THE PASSION TEST: AN EFFORTLESS PATH TO DISCOVERING YOUR LIFE PURPOSE” by Janet Bray Atwood and Chris Atwood. It has been a New York Times best seller. Endorsers include a variety of successful business, educational, and scientific personages.  I will attempt to share the essence of the book.

The Atwood duo begin the book with a quote that sets the tenor of the book.  “There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why”. (William Barclay, a Scotch theologian).

The PASSION TEST is about clarity – getting clear of who you are, what is really important to you, and developing the power, the passion, to have your dreams fulfilled purposefully by reaching your potential and adding value to the lives of others. This process is about “going deep within and tapping into the unbounded reservoir of creativity and intelligence within each of us. … Your passions are the loves of your life. … When you follow your passions you will love your life.”

Amplifying this perspective are neuroscientists, Dr. Andrew Newberg and Dr. Mark Waldman.  They write about how focusing on what you love allows the brain to move away from the “destructive emotions of fear, anger, depression, and anxiety … and get a release of dopamine, endorphins, and a variety of stress-reducing hormones and neurotransmitters”. The key is “to align yourself with what you believe is most important to you”.

The Atwoods build on this by saying “Your passions are clues or keys to your purpose in life”. Passions are how you live your life.  Passionate living is an active process.  Goals are the things you strive for, to achieve. Goals are about the outcomes of living your life with Passion.

“Passion Test Instructions”:  First, make a list of at least ten of the most important things you can think of that would give you a life of joy, passion, and fulfillment.  Second, compare each one with the other until you prioritize your list in order of importance to you. Once you have prioritized your passions you are to develop an action plan to bring them to fruition. The guiding principle here is “what you put your attention on grows stronger in your life”. Newberg and Waldman buttress this stating “The more you give attention to a particular belief, the stronger those neural connections in your brain become. … These beliefs then become more and more true for you. It literally becomes your inner reality, and that, of course, is going to influence your outer reality as well.”

Next, looking at your passion list, rate each one of them from 0-10.  Zero means you are not living that passion in your life at all.  Ten means you are fully living it. The Atwoods invite the reader to “challenge the self limiting beliefs that you hold. … Are there real reasons limiting the expression of your passion or lame excuses of a coward afraid to live life fully”?

Building on the scientific principles espoused by Newberg and Waldman, the Atwood’s mantra is         INTENTION (Choose to create XYZ)    ATTENTION (Subjective awareness directed to the choice)                       NO TENSION (This is a natural effortless process)

The Atwoods elaborate on “Seven Keys to Living Life Aligned with Passion”: Commitment, Clarity, Attention, Stay Open, Integrity, Persistence, Follow Your Heart.

There is more in this book worth discussing but for sake of space I conclude with the Atwood’s words:    “The things you love, those things we call passions, are drawing you irresistibly on to the fulfillment of your destiny”.

Respected Reader, your passions are?     Know yourself and then  “To thine own self be true”     (Shakespeare in Hamlet)

“The unexamined life is not worth living”      Socrates

“Heady” Stuff, Can You Handle It? Creating Deeper Connections!

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Over the many years that I have published articles my perspectives  I have gotten feedback that tells me of the diversity of the readership and their desire for a variety of types of articles. Some people want just the basics, “how to” information regarding marriage relationships and parenting. Others want a better understanding of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, addictions, etc….  And then there are some who want to be intellectually stimulated by being kept abreast of challenging theories with regard to philosophical and scientific discourse involving higher level functioning relative to the brain and personal relationships. This article addresses this last interest.

Dr. Henry Grayson has published a book called MINDFUL LOVING: TEN PRACTICES FOR CREATING DEEPER CONNECTIONS.  Noted marriage theorist, Dr. Harville Hendrix writes, “Grayson has integrated psychology, spirituality, and the new physics into concrete theory and practice that sheds light on how couples make themselves miserable, and how, by transforming their thoughts, they can achieve mutual joy.”

I would like to convey some of Dr. Grayson’s key concepts to stimulate and stretch your thinking for those so inclined.  Grayson challenges the reader’s belief system as he addresses:

  1. The interconnectedness of all things through consciousness using the principles of quantum mechanics and particular physics.  (Anybody quit reading here?)
  2. Definition of the “True Self” and how to connect with it.
  3. People can create, shape, and choose their own reality, especially as it exists within their relationship. One can rise above the constraints of the Ego-based relationship into a more Spiritual relationship connecting with the Divine.
  4. The power of thoughts and beliefs: how changing what one thinks can effect change in emotions and behavior.
  5. Distinguishing between Counterfeit and Empowering Love.
  6. Unfolding the flow of Love
  7. Meditation as a means of connecting with the “God within” and breaking down Ego boundaries in relationships.

For those of you who have not yet fallen asleep and those of you stimulated by these lofty concepts, may I draw forth a few pragmatic tidbits that may speak in a clearer fashion to you.

  1. Our mind seeks transcendence – to connect spiritually with the Divine-God.  Scientists have discovered a gene in the brain that inspires a person toward transcendence; some call it the “God gene”. This search path for transcendence varies between religions and individuals.  One’s “Belief” is important here.  How one thinks so too does one act.  Grayson presents a particular belief that he feels best unites science and spirituality.
  2. The more conscious, or aware, you are the more you can form an “Intention” as to what you want to create.  When you commit to an intention you co-create a reality that connects you better to your True Self and can better help you connect with your significant other in a loving fashion.
  3. God is Love – Being itself.  We as human beings participate in Divine Being and are energized by that love within us.

Teilhard de Chardin, a French scientist and theologian, has written in this vein:

“Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone joins them by what is deepest in themselves”

I hope that this treatise, complex as it is, has given you, Respected Reader, some food for thought. It is indicative of valiant attempts to connect science and spirituality.  A noble endeavor.  Perhaps it will jostle your mind to continue your search for a deeper understanding of yourself, your life, your connections, and your participation in the Godly mission of creative and healing Love.

Whew, I’m done in but encourage you to keep seeking as “The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates.

What Do Fathers Need To Be Reminded Of!?

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

 

There’s a popular Country song entitled “Watching You” by Rodney Atkins that tells a story about a Dad driving a car with his four year old little boy.  Suddenly he slams on the brakes and the boy’s “happy meal” goes flying.  The boy mutters a four letter word that begins with “s”.  The Dad is startled and concerned. He asks the boy where did you learn to talk like that? The boy responds:

“I’ve been watchin’ you Dad, now ain’t that cool

I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you” …

I wanna do everything you do

So I’ve been watchin’ you”

Father’s Day is next Sunday.  This article is meant as a reminder to Dads everywhere that their sons and daughters are always “watchin’ you”.  Whether near or far Dads are being watched as to how to live life.  Presence, character, values, life style, all are absorbed by children of fathers.  Even if the Father is not present, his absence negatively impacts his children.

In my many years of practice I have been consistently amazed at the “radar” that kids have regarding their parents.  Kids take in what is going on!  They may not choose or be able to express it, but they do know. They hear, see, and sense.  Never doubt that! Kids and adults everyday tell me what has gone on in their home and its affect on them.

So, what kind of role model are you, Dad?  To help with your awareness, you might want to ask the kids themselves.  Or, perhaps, their mother.  This feedback could be informative and interesting.  Might even lead to some changes in behavior, perhaps an apology or two.

Basic premise: if you are going to father a child, then be there to lead and protect that child. S/he needs your guidance. You need to model behaviors that inspire and encourage your child to be the very best person possible.  Without your leadership your child will flounder in some form or fashion.  Guaranteed.

Perhaps, Father’s Day could be an opportune day to reflect on your father.  What kind of man was he when you were “watchin’” him?  Was he present?  Was he a good Dad?  If not did he become one?  Your father always impacts you.  You are probably very much like him or for one reason or another you have chosen to be significantly different.

In recent times in my office I have heard a twelve year old girl say, “Daddy, please quit smoking, I’m afraid you are going to die.”  (The Dad threw his pack in the waste basket and said “I’m done”.)  A seventeen year old boy told me his Dad smoked marijuana with him starting at age twelve. An eight year old boy asked me to ask his father to quit yelling at his mother.  A fourteen year old girl was upset that her father divorced her mother, was drinking a lot in her presence, and rarely wanted to spend time with her.  A seventeen year old girl said she was shut down, shy, and had low esteem in reaction to her parents fighting all the time. The list could go on and on.

Most of you Fathers deserve high praise and deserve to be honored.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

For those of you who have not been a good Dad, there probably is time to make amends and give it your best shot.  A child always needs a good role model from Dad no matter what his or her age may be.  Remember, your child is always “watchin’ you”!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”     Socrates

 

I Have Been Welcomed Well and Am Grateful! Have You? Do You?

Friday, June 7th, 2013

To be welcomed is to feel special. To be welcomed is to be greeted well and accepted.  It opens up the door for the next step – whatever it may be.

Personally, the reality of being welcomed dives deep into my heart.  I have been fortunate in many circumstances and places to have been welcomed well. I would like to share a few examples in hopes that you may recognize a place where you have had that welcoming experience fulfilled or where a certain opportunity may be desired.

Post high school, leaving home and entering the door of independent adulthood, I remember being welcomed at the University of Wisconsin.  An acquaintance of mine at the time invited and welcomed me to his fraternity. Being welcomed and personally introduced in a favorable fashion led me to join that fraternity and find a “home away from home”.   Thus, the transition to college was easier.

Upon graduation I was feeling the beckoning welcome, the “call”, by God to serve Him as a priest. This felt exciting and inspirational.  Upon Ordination I was warmly welcomed by my home parish in Green Bay and then by my assigned parish in Decatur, Georgia. These wonderful welcomes were empowering and motivating. I value still those powerful experiences.

Moving forward, I was invited and welcomed into the Doctorate program at Georgia State University.  A particular Professor welcomed and mentored me. I will always be appreciative of his efforts on my behalf.  This transformation set me on a new, but related, path to work soulfully and intimately with people and their deepest concerns.

My fifteen years spent in Higher Education at DeKalb College and ultimately as a Dean at Kennesaw State University included many welcoming experiences that fostered my growth and competence.

Next, the “call” to private practice beckoned loudly and Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Atlanta welcomed me into community. Here I counseled and taught and even began an innovative Singles ministry.  I cherish the good memories of that community’s welcome that endured for seven years.

Needing more independence and flexibility I established my solo practice in Marietta.  Today I still maintain an office there on Mondays and Tuesdays.

2003 was the year of moving to Lake Oconee. How wonderful and welcoming has been this experience.  Professionally, Carey Williams, publisher and editor of the Herald Journal, welcomed me early on and allowed me to write a column for his paper.  Ten years later and I am still writing!  Thank you, Carey.

The above experiences relate to the valued career path of being welcomed  that I have been fortunate to receive.  These have been special and impactful.  I hope that I have reciprocated in kind over the years. However, personal welcoming have been even more significant.

To be welcomed by family members and friends is always special.  I have been blessed from that point of view. The community in which I live is noted for its hospitality and welcoming style.  Our Lake area in general is quite welcoming.

I must say, however, that the best welcoming I have ever had, and still do receive, is the loving welcome continually given to me by my wife and our kids. To be greeted with open arms and a hug fills my heart with gratitude as I realize how fortunate I am.  I try my best to welcome in the same loving fashion.

I share these personal welcoming highlights to present this concept to you.  Are you fortunate enough to be welcomed as you would have it by the various people in your life?  Do you need more, or better, welcoming from certain people – in your personal or professional life?   Are you a welcoming person?  Could you improve your ability to do so?  Welcoming is a gift from the heart!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”      Socrates