Words of Wisdom

 

 

What Has a Hold on You?

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Is there something you are holding on to that actually is holding on to you? What is it? Look at it. Is it doing any good to hold on to it? Is it truly protecting you, or keeping you safe in some way? Or is it putting part of you in a dark place? If you are holding on to something that no longer applies to you living a healthy life, let go. Let the light in. Open your hands and heart for healing. It’s time. God loves you.

Quiet Time

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

One of my favorite times of the day is early morning. The house is quiet. Coffee is in the cup. The only things alive and moving are the birds. This time is restorative, reflective, and renews me for the day ahead. Some of you know what I am talking about. Others may like to do this later at night after others in the house have gone to bed. No matter when or how, time to restore, reflect, and renew are necessary for our sense of well-being. Enjoy some quiet time today!

Stay Aware & Be Adventurous

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., CAPSW

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting an adventurist. She traveled throughout the world hiking through desert canyons, climbing mountains, and cycling across continents. She shared with me some of the challenges she faced and how she overcame obstacles. She enjoys the challenge of pushing her body to the extreme. However, she ignores her physical pain - the body’s signal that something is wrong and needs attention. The ability to ignore pain can be helpful in extreme situations. Left unchecked, our ability to ignore pain can become dangerously automatic. This can escalate to ignoring intense emotional pain. When ignoring acute or chronic pain becomes the norm, individuals can find themselves in toxic relationships and/or toxic situations.

Learning to Relax

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

There's a part of our brain that we can liken to a fire alarm. This part of us is always scanning our environment for danger. This is also the part that gets us stressed out. And when this part is triggered the muscles of our body tense. It might be different muscles for different people but there is always some sort of tension. An exercise that we can do to reduce our own anxiety and stress levels is to notice where the tension is in our body - and then to intentionally relax those muscles. If you're struggling to do this, constrict those muscles for 5 seconds and then let go and they should relax. Then, take a few good deep breaths, tell yourself some good, true things, and feel the stress leave your body.

How Can I Communicate Effectively

Cheryl Welch, BSN, RN, M.S., LPC-T

Have you ever wondered why you at times feel like you are not being heard or understood? Do you ever find yourself getting angry in conversations or feeling attacked? Take a moment to think about how a topic is approached. Are there swear words used to get one’s thoughts and opinions across to the other person? Do you start with accusations and saying “you”? I would encourage you to USE YOUR WORDS and OWN what you are saying! Approach a difficult topic owning your thoughts, emotions, beliefs, wants, needs, etc. Begin the discussion with “I” statements. I would encourage you to eliminate the swear words as they really don’t provide insight into the discussion, except that you are angry or have a limited vocabulary. Never MINDREAD! Always allow the other person opportunity to share their perspective on the topic and own what they feel, think, need want, etc. Gaining understanding and agreeing to disagree (when appropriate) is more effective in relationship building than always having to be right.

Emotional Intelligence

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

One definition: The ability to recognize emotion in yourself and others. It is something some have naturally and others genuinely do not. Emotional intelligence can be used for good or not so good just like other forms of insight and understanding. Studies indicate it can be learned to a degree. However, not everyone has it as in not every person is skilled in math. If you have it, use EI responsibly. If you don’t have it, look to learn it and use it well.

The Call of Wisdom

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Did you know wisdom calls to you? Yup...her voice is continuous and unending. She asks you for a listening ear, challenges you to nurture understanding, and remain willing to receive correction. You have three choices: You can ignore her, turn on her in contempt, or turn toward her to receive what she has to offer. It’s your choice.

Without Regret

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

Once a year, my family and I go to a remote place to where my aunt lives. Although the drive is much longer than the actual time we spend with her, those visits are precious and always memorable. We are enjoying her while we can. There are no regrets. Whenever any of us takes the time to visit with a loved one, it is time well spent and there are no regrets.

Breathe - Yes Breathe!

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

Are you breathing? That may seem like a funny question but I think many of us would be surprised by how often we hold our breath. And then, if you take time to notice when you are breathing, how shallow are your breaths? The majority of us breathe very shallowly most of the time. This communicates to our nervous system that we should be stressed out. And we probably are stressed out, and that's why we're breathing short. The thoughts and the breathing reinforce each other. We can stop the stressed-out cycle by taking a moment and breathing deeply. So, go ahead and care for yourself today by remembering to simply breathe.

The Benefits of Laughter

Cheryl Welch, BSN, RN, M.S., LPC-T

We all experience stress in our lives. When you are feeling stressed, don’t reach for a medication or pill, but take time to just laugh. A good old belly laugh will release your own endorphins while stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) decrease. The problems may not disappear, but you will find a different way of seeing them and may create solutions. Use laughter to interrupt the cycle(s) of stress.

Grumbling

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

There is a grumbling that some do for fun or for an attempt to vacate bad feelings: usually when the subject isn't present and others are. It doesn’t work for you to express personal disgust with something or someone that “hits you wrong.” Grumbling and bad mouthing simply magnifies negativity back to you and to anyone who hears it.

Finding Courage

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., CAPSW

On a recent trip out west, my daughter asked if she could ride a bull. Thinking it was a mechanical bull in which there was padding all around and plenty of safety precautions, Dad said yes. It was not until we were in the stands waiting for her in which we realized it was not a mechanical bull. We watched breathlessly as she climbed on the real bull and waited as more experienced riders tied her rope. The bull had an unusually large hump, so it ended up taking three other riders to tie the rope correctly. All the while, my anxiety was rising; she appeared to be calm. Although the ride only lasted three seconds before she was thrown off, it was long enough for me. Afterward, I asked her if she was afraid at all when she was on the bull. She answered, “yeah, I was afraid but I just decided to find the courage to overcome my fear.” Seems like good advice - to focus on increasing courage to overcome obstacles instead of trying to decrease the fear of an obstacle.

Stewardship

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Hearing the word stewardship brings to mind appropriate principles in the obtaining and maintaining of healthy finances. However, relationships need the same care, planning, and wise decisions to keep them healthy. Flourishing relationships involve appreciation, thoughtful planning along with a growing awareness of needs, values, and negotiation of stressors along the way. How are you doing?

Stop and Breathe

Cheryl Welch, BSN, RN, M.S., LPC-T

When you have those moments you feel stressed and anxious, take a few seconds and breathe. Then count your teeth with your tongue. This process can bring focus and decrease the anxiety. Try it!!

We Need Sleep

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

How's your sleep? Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night to be physically and mentally healthy. (Kids and teens need more.) If you're going through a stressful period or are female, you likely need closer to nine hours. The best way to figure out how much sleep you need is to go to sleep at the same time for a couple nights in a row and then see what time you naturally wake up. When we don't get enough sleep we don't just feel tired the next day but our brains aren't able to function at full capacity. Sleep helps us keep whatever new information we learned the day before and it helps us be emotionally regulated. These are just two of the benefits of getting enough sleep. Find out how much sleep you need to be fully rested and enjoy the benefits!

Laughter as Medicine

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Studies suggest that humor and laughing have good things in store for us mentally and physically. These two things can relieve pain, strengthen the immune system, help with stress, and make people contact very pleasant. Let’s seek humor and laughter every day. It’s good for us.

Diligent

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

A “diligent” person...to be “diligent” means we take painstaking effort at something or with someone. Diligence relationally means we make great effort to learn about or be with another as the relationship develops. Not knowing the future while remaining diligent is the foundation of our growth toward and with our loved one. It is our conscious choice to focus forward toward what this unique partnership can be.

No Texting!

Cheryl Welch, BSN, RN, M.S., LPC-T

Texting has become a way of life, but can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, anger, judgments, and the list goes on. When there is a serious topic you want to cover with someone, get on the phone and call them or talk to them in person. Texting leaves interpretation of the message by the receiver and not the intent of the sender. Personal contact provides opportunity to actually hear the words spoken, to clarify meaning, and to come to an understanding of intent.

Perfectionism Is Not A Strength

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., CAPSW

Over the years, I have had the privilege of counseling many talented and gifted men, women and children. An all too-common concern is perfectionism. Perfectionism chokes off dreams and aspirations. It comes with the unrealistic idea that we have to get everything right the first time. Learning, growing, and changing is all a process. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and not get things right the first time.

Hold the Line

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

We all have situations in our life that are just difficult. And sometimes we get so tired and we just want to give up, give in, or go back to the old way of doing things. We wonder whether it's worth the fight or not. But it is. It always is. We can never forget this. In most situations it only takes one person to be a catalyst for change in our own lives and the lives of others. If you're tired, that's okay but don't lose the ground for which you fought so hard. Hold the line!

I Just Had a Fender Bender

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Truly, three hours ago. My fault entirely. I realize in this that I’ve grown. I’m analyzing but not overly so. I’m not obsessing about what’s next. I’m letting go and looking at what God has for all concerned. I’m looking forward to a nice day. Phew. That took a lot of years! Thanks God!

Relational Adventure

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

People go to great lengths in relationship to maintain what they believe to be true about their perspective and experience. Natural as it is to preserve what we believe to be true, it can also deny the very experience and perspective of someone we love. Acknowledging what is valid about another experience does not negate your own. What it does provide an open door to learn additional perspectives and options for resolutions. Look at it as an adventure! One in which both are validated and may receive some of which is desired.

Honesty a

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., CAPSW

I think we have all learned about the importance of honesty. The most important person to be honest with is yourself. Honesty is closely related to being open to constructive criticism. Without being honest with yourself, it is difficult to grow and change.

If Only...a

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

If only he would get his act together. If only she would knock it off. If only I had a different job. At any point in our lives we can probably come up with some sort of "if only" statement that we feel would make our lives better. However, as we all know, we rarely have all that we want. So, instead of hanging all our hopes on these if's we can be proactive in caring for our self and bringing ourselves a sense of stability. This involves learning how to walk in our integrity. This means focusing on ourselves and how we want to be and act regardless of the situation... This way, at the end of the day, we can look in the mirror and be proud of how we've handled things.

Shame and Shutdown

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

“Shame is a natural reaction to being violated or abused. In fact, abuse, by its very nature, is humiliating and dehumanizing.” (Kaufman) This is especially true with nasty group or individual opinions (bullying) and so-called minor sexual violations. The feelings of being defiled, while simultaneously experiencing the indignity of being at the mercy of another person, are enough for many to shut down standing up for one’s self for a very long time.

Long Life

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Remaining positive in our dog-eat-dog kind of world is no easy task. Studies in the field of neuroscience tell us that giving to others increases our ability to live longer, think happier thoughts, increases our self-esteem and physically improves our health. Focusing on your blessings and ways we can give to others takes on many forms. Verbal blessings, monetary gifts, practical provisions, spiritually extending mercy and grace. All of these help our brains function at an optimal level. We all have days of anxious thoughts and concerns. This is normal and understandable. True contentment focuses on what we have that is good, acknowledging what we don’t have and freely giving what we can.

Emotions

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

Current culture emphasizes a logical, rational way of thinking and being, and with good reason. Hotheads can get us into a lot of trouble. However, this has translated into a devaluing of emotion. Emotions are important though. We are all fueled by emotion, even the most rational person. Emotion is what brings vibrancy and depth to life. When we cut off or deny our emotions we lose out on the joy and the reality of living. No, it's not okay to let our emotions run us and it's not even important that we express them all the time. But what's important is that we notice them, care for them, and honor them. They are good information that tells us where we stand with ourselves and with other people and can help us make informed decisions about how to better our lives. When logic and emotion are paired together then we are fully alive.

Make a Commitment

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Here’s how you give and receive commitment: 1. Respond to bids to connect. Put down the phone, look and listen. 2. Work through struggles together with a team mentality. Keep a struggle as a thing to overcome together not a “whose to blame for this.” 3. Find a way to have fun occasionally even in the daily grind. These things work in relationships and in the workplace.

What People Need

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Dr. Caroline Leaf makes an amazing comment. “Every cell in our bodies is designed to respond to love.” As a cognitive neuroscientist, she understands the reality of what people need to thrive. Behaviors that help anyone thrive is those which originate in the positive existence of love. It is true we need love yet love is not always a global acceptance of all behavior or thoughts. Love means structure integrated with grace, discipline with patience, mercy with consequences, guidance with values, and much more. If every cell in our bodies is designed to respond to love, then true love involves rules with grace, patient discipline, consequences that encourage, and a value system designed to celebrate and respect differences. We could use more of this.

A Curious Case of Mistaken Identity: Knowing Who You Are

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

A few years ago, our oldest daughter was mistaken for someone else. The following is her recount of the incident in her own words: “During my second semester of college, I arrived at school late. I had my backpack, purse, lunchbox, and thermos firmly in hand as I blended into a crowd of 11-12 year olds who were on a field trip. I made it through the doors and tried to head down the main hallway to my classroom. A very dedicated elementary school teacher stopped me and insisted that I not leave the tour group. We argued back and forth, me wanting to get to my class and her firmly telling me to ‘put my backpack and lunch on the bus’ and ‘join the other kids’. (To be fair to the teacher, it should be understood that when I stand as straight and tall as I can, I barely measure five feet. So many of the young students were much taller.) After several minutes of arguing and her physically blocking my path, I won the argument by asking her if she’d taken attendance that morning (she had) and if she’d ever seen me before in her life (she hadn’t). I promptly stepped around her and headed off to my class.” Although humorous, this vignette demonstrates a few key points: Do not look to others to validate your identity. It is important to know who you are even when strangers are telling you that you are someone else. It is important to know your rightful place and proper path even when someone is trying to steer you wrong.

Be Kind to Yourself!

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

The holidays are over and maybe you feel like you can breathe again. This period brings highs and lows, stresses and joys, and many more things than we are usually carrying. Whether the holidays were mostly positive or negative now is the time to focus on getting balanced again. January is an adjustment period. Be kind to yourself and others as you settle back into the normal routine.

Blame Does Not Heal

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Blame may help your hurting for a short time. It will not heal your unrest in the long run.

Aware

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Healing begins when we admit what we are doing that sets us up for relational pain or plain turmoil in life. I read the following earlier this year. “When you are amazed at the lengths to which you go to cover up your wrong actions, you are witness to your own selfishness in action.” Dear friends, be aware and choose wisely!

Your Best

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

You are worthy. You are significant. You are valuable beyond measure. And you are worth your best effort...in everything you do.

Love Others - Change Yourself

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

If you're up on any healthy relationship psychology at all then you will know that the only person you can change is yourself. We cannot change other people. However, we can have influence. And one of the best ways to have influence is to get out of the way. When we stop taking other people's consequences, they get to experience pain. And pain is a gift and a very powerful motivator for change. So, consider, have you been shielding anyone in your life from the consequences of unhealthy patterns? If you have….consider stopping. Chances are they will catch on very quickly and make healthier choices for the future. This is one of the best ways to love people!

Is Life Confusing?

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

There are times in life when things seem confusing. The way out is not looking for what or who is wrong. If you wait and watch, a new way through is probably at hand.

Undermined

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

The holiday season is in full swing. Being swayed by advertising, what others think or crave seemingly comes much easier. Identify and focus on what your core values are: honest exchanges of appreciation, enjoyable time with those you love, and so much more. This season passes quickly. Aid your ability to love freely, give generously as well as receive with a grateful heart. All the rest is designed to undermine our sense and confidence in what we hold true.

Building Fences...Pruning Hedges - Part 2

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

As with taking care of any plant, removing dead or damaged pieces is important for growing and healing. You are allowed to remove dead or damaging habits from your life. You are allowed to remove dead or damaging patterns from your life. You are allowed to remove dead or damaging relationships from your life. You are allowed to have your “yes” mean yes and your “no” mean no. You are allowed to become strong. You are allowed to become the best you can be. You are allowed to become excellent.

Heal Thy Brain

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

The brain is an amazing thing. Just as with a cut on our skin, our brain is wired to heal itself. And as we know with cuts, we need to clean them out, put ointment on them, and bandage them up. Similarly, the brain needs the right ingredients to heal. This includes finding healthy empathetic people, self-compassion, having a positive spiritual connection, and good self-care. Keep adding these things to your life so your brain and all its neural pathways can be healthy and strong.

Stress and Sleep

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

The average amount of sleep that a person needs is 7 to 9 hours. People who are stressed need more sleep. Regardless of where your stress is coming from, be sure to go slow and be kind to yourself and others. Stress and change are hard! Don't hold yourself and others to unreasonable standards. It is perfectly reasonable to rest more and take a break while you're adjusting to whatever it is that's going on in your life. Use this time to recover and to consider healthy changes that may need to be made.

Building Fences...Pruning Hedges - Part 1

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

It is said “good fences make good neighbors”. In some places, land is physically separated by a fence; this is a literal boundary. Establishing internal boundaries in relationships is as important as establishing external boundaries. With clearly defined standards for acceptable and respectful behavior, the relationship can blossom and develop. You are allowed to have your “yes” mean yes and your “no” mean no.You are allowed to become strong. You are allowed to become the best you can be. You are allowed to become excellent.

Enjoy Learning

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

One behavior or attitude that's proven to be encouraging is those who truly enjoy learning. Why? It shows they know they have much to learn, realize their limitations, and treat people around them with respect. I want to be one of those types of individuals. Enjoy learning from those around you.

A View From 30,000 Feet

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

As parents, we have one of the most valuable jobs in society. Children make mistakes that can have devastating consequences. Because we have more life experience, we are able to see the world from 30,000 feet in the air. As children grow, they are able to see their world from an ascending elevation of 1,000 feet. We are responsible to point out that actions have consequences. Our advice is valuable, built from years of personal experience and seeing others succeed and fail. We are equipping our children with their own flying instruments to navigate their lives. When we see a problem ahead, it is the responsibility of our children to listen to our advice and direction on handling or avoiding it. After all, we’re seeing the problem from 30,000 feet.

Love Your Anger?

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

I love anger. It's one of my favorite emotions. A lot of people think anger is bad but anger serves a very significant purpose. Anger is a message from our body and soul that something is off. Sometimes someone has stepped over our boundaries. Sometimes we're not operating in our own integrity. Sometimes an injustice has happened. Anger is typically a response to hurt and/or fear. It gives us the strength and drive to make a healthy change. So, next time that you get angry don't judge yourself. Ask yourself what is causing the anger and how can you use the strength that anger provides to make a positive change.

Wise Communication

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Interacting with those around us on a daily basis is automatic. To make talking simple, there are two choices we have. We can speak poison or life. Reality is, it’s our choice. This reality is sobering. It speaks to the truth that we make choices all day long. For those I care about, the choice carries great weight. Wise communicators will be intentional and cautious with what they say. Be conscious of this choice no matter the person you speak with.

You Are Being Watched

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

As a parent, have you ever felt as though your words have fallen on deaf ears? Even when our children do not seem to be listening to us or taking our advice—rest assured they are listening and watching. The words we speak and the tone of voice we use all matter. The memories of our words become imprinted on our children’s hearts. Our words have the power to encourage and discourage. We must choose our words carefully, wisely, and above all—lovingly.

Help Your Brain!

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

I recently saw a picture comparing two brain scans. One brain criticized daily and the other practiced gratitude daily. Long story short, the brain that criticized had holes in it. The brain that practiced gratitude was full and lively. It just felt better to look at that brain. What we think about determines what we become. What are you dwelling on today? Consider making it the things you're thankful for.

Honoring Choices

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

We have all been faced with situations where no matter what good is given, mean words and behaviors are returned. This type of individual seems invested in viewing good through the lens of suspicion. Just writing these words brings sadness of heart. Sadness in that they may not allow a life free of shame, cruelty, and fear. Honoring their choices may mean limiting oneself in contact with them. Honoring them may also mean ongoing compassion and kindness from a distance.

Competition/Comparison

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Competition and comparison can run rampant in your head. It is draining to sort out how to set yourself apart in a world full of people. The cure for this is to find out who you are specially made to be and get into alignment with it and your maker. It is a huge relief to do so.

A Word About Apologizing

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

Apologizing is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strong character. Sometimes apologizing — not only for what we have done but for how it has affected the other person — improves relationships. A person’s strength of character is best seen with how mistakes or transgressions are handled.

Wisdom