Are You Wasting Your Emotional Energy?

So I’m going to talk about famous people for a bit.  Just bear with me.

As I was watching the news on Tuesday morning, a story about the rivalry between Kanye West and Taylor Swift (both current pop/R&B icons) was brought to my attention.  The segment focused on a speech given at the Grammy Award Ceremony by T. Swift.  A portion of the speech is below.

“There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success, or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame, but if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you…”

Evidently, Swift was responding to a lyric in one of West’s new songs where he supposedly tried to take credit for her success.  I understand that she is standing up for herself, and encouraging young women to persevere.  However, both of these celebrities continue to hold power over one another by constantly talking about each other publicly.  The news anchors reminded me that this all started back in 2009!  That’s 7 years ago people!

SERIOUSLY!?   How often do we waist emotional energy focusing on grudges or past hurts?  Holding grudges will steel your joy and, frankly, it’s a terrible waste of emotional energy– energy that we could be using to grow, discover, process, relate, connect, and practice vulnerability.  Yes, working through horrendous hurts and pain takes time and work.  Some of my clients have experienced things that make me weep if I dwell on them and these experiences will never disappear.  Experiences change people.  But, if we are able to spend the time and do the work (hard work) of confronting our pasts honestly, then we are able to experience a new sense of freedom and peace that is life-giving.  We are able to focus on what we desire to focus on- healthy relationships; and stop focusing, all the time, on those who have injured us.

If you are allowing a past experience to rule your mind and heart, reach out and seek help. This takes an extreme amount of courage, but sometimes (a lot of times) we need a professional to walk alongside us and teach us how to move forward in a healthy way.  Whether it’s sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional abuse, trauma, or relationship issues, something that happened as a child, or 3 years ago, don’t waste any more precious time.  Make an appointment with a counselor today.

Five Ways to Help Your Child through Divorce

Divorce is hard. Divorce is hard on you. Divorce is hard on your spouse. Divorce is hard on your children. There are many factors that contribute to the difficulties during the divorce process, including very intense emotions. It can be especially difficult to think of effective ways to help your child through this process while in the middle of your own grief and pain. While divorce is unique and complicated by different personalities, legalities, and mixed emotions here are some practical tips to keep in mind while communication with your children.

  1. Be Realistic: Sometimes in an effort to avoid their own pain a parent might hyper-focus on their children’s pain. Although paying attention to your child’s hurting and finding help when needed is appropriate, the expectation that you can somehow remove all pain from your child is not realistic. Grief is part of the process. Instead of trying to “fix” your child’s feelings allow them to express them in safe ways. If your child is angry then let them be angry as long as their anger is not being expressed in ways that are harmful to themselves or others.
  2. Communicate Change Timely and Effectively: Change can happen very quickly in a divorce and sometimes these changes are not communicated effectively to children. If schedules are changing discuss what those changes will be like and ask for suggestions from your children. Make sure you communicate ahead of time so that they have a week or two to process the changes prior to a major move. Always take responsibility for the final decisions but take into account how these changes might affect their daily lives as well. Your therapist can help you create age appropriate schedules and charts to help your child wrap their minds around new routines.
  3. Be Reassuring: Depending on the age of your child their ability to process very complicated emotions is limited. When children have complicated emotions they do not always understand how to express them and may act out angrily or ask disconnected questions such as, “Will I get a new Mommy and Daddy now?” It can be very easy to simply say NO or brush off the question because you don’t know what to say. I encourage you to ask them more questions and keep the conversation going to find out more details about what kinds of emotions are going on inside. Reassure them that regardless of what is happening now in their lives you will always be their Mom and Dad. They may continue to ask these types or questions, keep reassuring them.
  4. Control Your Emotions: This might seem like an impossible task to ask of you when every day might be full of emotion for you, however, children are experts at soaking up the emotions around them (NOT experts at processing those feelings, though) and can read you better than you think. Children will begin to internalize their own emotions for fear of burdening you with theirs. I am not encouraging you in any way to not express your own emotions – it is absolutely VITAL for you to do so preferably with a counseling professional. I do encourage you to wait until your children are away or asleep to have a breakdown.
  5. Take Care of Your Family: If there is ever a transitions in which you should seek professional help for you and your children it is in the midst of a divorce. The effects of a divorce can be lifelong and life changing for all involved. Additionally, attempting to take care of others while in such a raw place emotionally can prove to be futile. Get help. Reach out to a doctor, therapist, pastor, or group to give you professional emotional support through this difficult time. 

We at Heritage Behavioral Health Consultants are here to help you and your family through this emotional time. Please reach out when you need help through a divorce or during any other time of change.

Life Lessons from my Lab (George) #5: Healing

George 5

“George stop it! No! No George!” I yelled across the room at my dog.

George lifted his head and then cocked it to one side as if to say, “Who me?”

“Yes you!” I exclaimed as I walked over and crouched down beside him.   I talk to my yellow lab frequently as if he understands me. Don’t’ worry about it… I’m aware it’s weird. I examined the lower area of his leg to find that his wound had not healed. In fact it looked worse.

“Why will he not leave his leg alone?” my husband wondered in a frustrated tone. “If he would stop licking it, it would heal!”

“I don’t know, but are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Yep.” He chuckled and turned to look at our dog. “Sorry buddy. It’s time for the cone of shame.”

Now the “cone of shame,” is really just an e-collar, and e-collars prevent animals from pulling off bandages etc. after a procedure has been done. At our house we lovingly call it the cone of shame because of the look George gives us when he has to wear one. I have to say, it’s pretty pathetic and equally hilarious to watch our hundred pound lab walk around wearing a huge Elizabethan style collar. He runs into EVERYTHING and cannot walk through a door without getting one of the sides of the collar stuck on the wall. He constantly knocks over furniture and in the midst of the chaos, my husband and I cannot help but laugh.

George hates the cone, but the cone is necessary. The cone keeps George from aggravating his wound. Though annoying and burdensome, without it, George’s wound would never heal. He would just keep licking his leg, without even realizing that he was making it worse!

I started thinking about the different ways that we aggravate our own wounds; the ways we prevent past hurts from healing. We try to make it better. We try to make the pain go away. But no matter what we do, we can’t figure out how to make it heal. We focus so much on the pain that we become hyper-focused and stuck in a pattern or cycle that only makes the wound more raw and exposed. We are unable to see any other way to heal. If only someone else would step in to show us a different way. If only we could see the bigger picture. If only someone would help guide us in another direction, any other direction that might actually assist in the healing process. This is where I come in.

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I am trained to walk with people through their pain, and begin the process of restoration. If you feel stuck, as if there is no end to your suffering, there is hope! Give us a call here at Heritage and let’s start the process of your restoration.