Spirituality

How to Find Peace in Life Part 3

How to Find Peace in Life Part 3

This week, we are discussing the ever sought after goal of many of our clients— peace.  Peace of heart, peace of mind, a peaceful home, peaceful relationships, or a peaceful work environment. The issues we see in our office that bring couples, families and individuals to therapy may vary, but underneath the presenting problem is usually the same core struggle: Whatever is going on in their life feels chaotic, unsettling, insecure, or just simply without peace.

How to Find Peace in Life Part 1

How to Find Peace in Life Part 1

Many times in our offices we encounter individuals and couples who have a deep sense of inner turmoil and feelings of dissatisfaction.  Peace seems to be a concept that only certain "lucky" people acquire or maybe even a concept that isn't even attainable at all. 

This week we want to discuss how even in the midst of trial, grief, and crisis, peace can not only be present, but tangibly felt too. The Serenity Prayer

Forgiveness Tips

Forgiveness is powerful and necessary for the healing process. Lewis Smedes says that "Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free; and to discover that prisoner is you." I've also heard someone describe the process of not forgiving being like "drinking poison and expecting someone else to die." Many feel overwhelmed and confused about what it actually means to forgive someone, so this week Imagine Hope is going to provide you with tips to remember as you embark on the journey of forgiveness.

  • Remember that forgiveness is a process- Forgiving someone is not a one time thing. It is usually something you have to do over and over, especially when you are triggered about the wound. The biggest goal is for you to get the emotions out in a healthy way. Whether it is talking to a professional, journaling, or writing a letter to the person that you don't send.  After time you should be able to wish the person who hurt you well. This will offer you freedom from your pain.
  • Forgiveness isn't something you do for them; it's for you!- The focus should not be about offering them forgiveness. When you forgive someone, it is about freedom from the pain for YOU. If you choose not to forgive than you choose to hold the pain and not feel better.

Keep checking back this week as we share more things to remember when forgiving!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW is a virtual licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.  Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

Spring Book Recommendations

We love books here at Imagine Hope! They are such a good tool for clients to dig deeper into their learning which can help the therapy process in many ways. This week each of us will be sharing some books we've found to be helpful in our own journey that we recommend for clients.

Teri's Pick: "Lord, Change my Attitude" by James MacDonald

Do you need an attitude adjustment? If so, what are YOU willing to do about it?

Many times our stubborn hearts say we want our attitudes to change, but we are not willing to swallow our pride enough to get the results we are looking for.

We might think we want an attitude change, but what we are actually seeking is a circumstance change. These things are very different. We all know what it is like to be out of control of a difficult time in our lives. It brings us down and often creates anxiety. Sometimes there are circumstances we just can't change. But we can work to change our attitudes about the negative experience.

James MacDonald uses this book to help you understand what the Bible says about attitudes and how to flip a bad attitude into a good one. There is a study guide in the back that helps readers dig deeper into each chapter.

We often drift into complaining, wishing we had a life like someone else (coveting), being critical, doubting, and flat out rebellion from what we know we "should" do. This book exposes what scripture says each of these attitudes and confronts the heart issues surrounding each one. Then it gives solutions along with a new attitude to replace the old negative one.

Have a complaining attitude? If so, this book helps you see the harm, and guides you down the path to replace it with a thankful attitude.

I always love a great Christian book that uses the Bible to teach us how to live a more Christ-like life.

Remember an attitude change can change your outlook on life.

Check back in tomorrow for another great book to add to your list!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri does virtual therapy for residents of Indiana and Florida using videoconferencing technology. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling and adolescent counseling.

Fall Book Recommendations- Tammy

If you struggle with shame, have insecurities or doubts, then this book recommendation is for you! Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick

This book is powerful, funny, convicting and full of God's truths. Pastor Furtick discusses all the ways the Enemy speaks to us about our insecurities - whether it be our abilities, talents, parenting, etc.

He walks us through how to notice when the "Chatterbox" (aka Satan) is speaking, how to realize that the Chatterbox only spews lies, and how to combat these lies with God's truths.

What I absolutely love about this book is Furtick's ability to share wholeheartedly from his own experiences, admitting his own insecurities in ways that are humble and honest. His sharing allows the reader to realize that no one has it figured out, no matter what the Chatterbox says.

One of my favorite lines from the book is from Chapter 2 which states: "One of the main reasons we struggle with insecurity is because we're comparing our behind-the-scenes with everybody else's highlight reel." Oh how true this is! I find myself constantly comparing how I feel internally with how others look on the outside, or what someone lets me see on their outside.

This book will deepen your faith and dependence on God and allow you to hear more of God's truths as you listen for His promptings.

 

Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

Serenity Prayer- Serenity

The Serenity Prayer is commonly linked to 12 step programs and is used by many as a coping tool. It says:“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.” When we truly internalize these words, it can remind us that we do have power over some things in our lives, but not all things. When we can accept this in our lives, we are able to shift our expectations and be more at peace about what is going on in our lives.

Over this week Imagine Hope is going to help you see how using the Serenity Prayer in your daily life can help anyone- even those who don’t struggle with addictions! This week we are going to break down the Serenity Prayer phrase by phrase to help you have a better understanding of it’s meaning and how YOU can use it in your life!

God Grant Me The Serenity… Even if you don’t believe in God or a higher power, this prayer used as a mantra can be helpful. When we look at the word serenity, it helps us understand the intent and the tone of this prayer.

The word serenity is defined as: “Peace; the absence of mental stress or anxiety; quiet; peace of mind; tranquility; a disposition free from stress or emotion.” This prayer’s intention is about looking for peace and calm in the midst of emotional trouble. As you use this prayer in your own life, be in tune with what you are asking to be “granted”. You are asking for a calmer spirit.

Keep reading all week as we break down the rest of the Serenity Prayer! We hope you start praying for peace in your own lives!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

Quotes That Inspire- Teri

Sometimes an awesome quote can motivate and inspire us. It can help us create change and remember goals and help us stay on healthy paths we are headed on. That's why this week each of us at Imagine Hope will be sharing some of our favorite inspirational quotes. We hope they influence your lives in a positive way as they have ours! Mark 12:31 "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."- Jesus

Jesus spoke these words after being asked by scribes many questions trying to test him. In Mark 12:28, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. To which He replies, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."( Mark 12:30)

Then Jesus goes on with the second greatest commandment to love our neighbor as yourself.

Think about that...after loving God, we are commanded to love our neighbor...as we love our self.

Are you self-focused? Do you look out for yourself to try to get the best outcome you want? We all have a selfish thought process in us. It is human nature.

But do you love your neighbor in the way that you love yourself? Do you see people around you through the same lens you look at yourself?

This isn't just a nice idea that we should 'maybe' do, if we think about it. This is a commandment.

Sometimes I look at how selfish I am and look out for my own best interest. But when I think about it, I'm not always the best at loving others with that same love.

This verse from the Bible is convicting and helps me re-center that we need to be looking out for others in the same way we look out for ourselves. As you go about your day, I encourage you to follow this commandment. Love others in the same way you love yourself.

Check in all week for more quotes that will inspire you!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri does virtual therapy for residents of Indiana and Florida using videoconferencing technology. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling and adolescent counseling.

Fall Book Recommendations- Natalie

Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis

This was one of my all time favorite books. Don't be turned off by this book if you aren't a person of Faith. Keep reading!

Katie was an 18 year-old girl, president of her class, homecoming queen, smart, and beautiful. Sounds like she had it all. She went to Uganda on a mission trip and realized she thought she had it all, but was missing the point. She was missing living a life of purpose! She didn't do what most of us do- we come home from a mission trip, feeling changed, but do little about it. Katie went back to Africa and started taking care of little children who couldn't care for themselves. She eventually was able to adopt precious girls who have no parents, poor health, and a grim future.

This sounds like a good fiction book doesn't it? It's a true story!

Katie will inspire you to reach beyond what you ever imagined you could do, hold on to your faith, and to love beyond how far you ever thought you could love. Her story is one of hope, love, and yes, redemption. Katie found herself by reaching out to others and loving the least of these. Isn't that what we are called to do? No matter what faith we profess, we are called to love those who truly are helpless and can't care for themselves. Katie is a perfect example of this.

Beyond the seriousness of the book, I love her vulnerability, her sense of humor (she is hilarious!), and how she doesn't filter or water it down. She says it like it is.

Katie now as 14 children she cares for! I am amazed at her. She truly is a modern day Mother Teresa. If you want to be inspired, read this book!

Thank you for reading. Have a great week!

Written by Natalie Chandler

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville

Spring Book Recommendations- Teri

It is spring! Which means it is time for us to share some of our favorite reads as we look forward to nicer weather :) The Law of Happiness: How Spiritual Wisdom and Modern Science Can Change Your Life By Henry Cloud

We live in a world where people are always seeking happiness. Through medications, moving up the corporate ladder, and keeping up with the "Jones's", our society is filled with ideas of how to reach that feeling of true happiness.

So much of what people think will make them happy is through things on the outside, but Henry Cloud helps us see through research and biblical references that true sustainable happiness comes from the inside.

This book covers several different ways and character traits that people have to achieve sustainable happiness. Here are some of my favorite chapters:

  • Happy people are givers
  • Happy people aren't waiting for someday
  • Happy people connect
  • Happy people don't compare themselves
  • Happy people are grateful
  • Happy people have boundaries
  • Happy people forgive
  • Happy people have a faith

There are many more chapters and tons of powerful info that map out the road to happiness. Check it out for ways to overhaul your life towards a happy and fulfilling life!

Check in all week for more great books!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

Characteristics of Dysfunctional Couples 5-9

I've often been told & read that God built us to be in relationships. Whether those relationships are familial, friendships, or romantic relationships. Sometimes those relationships can be dysfunctional, tearing down our own self-esteem and self-worth. We've taken the characteristics of dysfunctional relationships from Recovering Couples Anonymous to help others see if their relationship may need some help. You might be a Dysfunctional Couple if:

5. Being enmeshed and totally dependent with each other is perceived as being in love.

6. We find it difficult to ask for what we need, both individually and as a couple.

7. Being insecure is equal to being intimate.

8. We either avoid our problems or feel we are individually responsible for solving the problems we have as a couple.

9. We believe that we must agree on everything.

If you see yourself in any of these, then I encourage you to have a conversation with your significant other to start making some healthy changes. If professional help is needed, we're always here to inspire hope! Thanks for reading, stay tuned for 9 more characteristics.

Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

The 12 Steps for Everyone- Step 12

Today, we will finish up with the 12 Steps of Recovery, discussing the 12th and final step.  Remember that utilizing these steps in everyday life is for everyone-- not just someone with an addiction! Step 12:  Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts (people), and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Step 12 is not just about a spiritual awakening-- the message in this step really focuses on the importance of fellowship and relationships with others that promote an act of service.  Healing any emotional pain happens most effectively in the loving presence of others and in our safest relationships.  This step encourages the act of being there for others when they are going through a difficult time and allowing them a safe place to heal in the presence of your strength.  It doesn't mean giving advice (even though that might sometimes be asked of you), and it doesn't mean trying to rescue someone from working through something they need to work through on their own.  It simply means "being there", being real, present and authentic.  While we don't recommend trying to help someone who won't help themselves, it is important to "give back" and being there for others in their time of need (with healthy boundaries, of course!).  Doing this is two-fold-- it allows the other person to feel like they are not alone in their pain, AND it allows the giver to feel a sense of purpose by giving back. The other theme surrounding this step I think is important, is the idea of fellowship and accountability.  What better place to be held accountable than in the healing presence of others who find it just as important to BE accountable!  Have you ever been in a situation where you are with a friend, relative, or loved one, and you have a decision to make?  This doesn't even have to be a huge life decision (Hmmm... should I buy that new outfit, even though I don't need it?  Should I eat that last piece of chocolate or have another glass of wine?).  Are you more likely to make a healthy decision when you are around someone who is healthy (and holds themselves accountable) or unhealthy? The effects of "modeling" begin in our earliest relationships in life, and continue throughout the rest of our lives. I think it's more likely that when we surround ourselves with healthy people, we are more likely to make healthier decisions by feeding off their healthiness.  This step encourages the modeling of this "in all our affairs"... not just the one behavior we are most focused on changing.

So, have you found the steps applicable in your own life?  We hope they have helped you in your own journey towards becoming a healthier person!  Check back with us for next week's blog-- "Don't Drive a Relationship Lemon".  We won't give away all of the details this week, but we think you will find it light hearted, humorous, and applicable to your life.  Thank you again for spending time with Imagine Hope!

Resources:

The 12 Steps:  A Spiritual Journey by Friends of Recovery

Codependents Guide to the 12 Steps by Melody Beattie

www.12step.org

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

The 12 Steps for Everyone - Steps 8 & 9

Natalie, Joleen & Teri have done a great job of explaining the Steps & have given some great exercises to do along the way. I hope you'll get a chance to do some of them. Let's continue our discussion.... Step 8: "Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all."

This step is a preparation process to make amends to others in our life. We examine our relationships and prepare to repair damage done in the past and heal the past with others. We decide that saying "I'm sorry for my behavior" is necessary. This step is about deciding honesty and truth over secrecy and deceit. Keep in mind that during this step, lists are made of those you want to apologize to and why you want to apologize. This is not the step to take the action of apologizing just yet.

This step is to be eye-opening so that you see in apologizing to others for hurting them, this allows you personally to move forward & not continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over in relationships. If the problem you've decided to work on has been a critical/controlling spirit, or procrastination, or being self-absorbed, this is the step to make the list of people you need to make amends to who have been negatively affected by your behavior.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

This step is the following through of Step 8. Here is where you apologize, make phone calls, meet face-to-face and say "I'm sorry". In this Step, the discipline of honesty is created. Through this Step you try to heal an area that was once broken.

This step takes alot of courage. It's not easy to go to someone & say, "I know I've hurt you. I know my behavior has affected you in this manner. I apologize". This is hard! However, despite any embarrassment or fear, an apology still must be made. Sometimes amends cannot be made because the person who you want to apologize to has died or refuses to speak to you. Or, sometimes it can be inappropriate to speak to someone because it can cause a relapse in recovery or, as in the case of infidelity, to have contact with someone would be a boundary violation. If apologizing to someone causes more damage than repair, then feel free to share your amends with a sponsor, minister or counselor.

When making amends, try to do so at the first opportunity that arises. Keep in mind when apologizing to remain humble & know what you want to say beforehand. Remember to take responsibility for your actions and not blame the other person at all. Stay open to any response you receive from others....you're not there to make them forgive you. You're there to practice the discipline of honesty & making amends.

I hope you're well on your way of understanding how the 12 Steps can be applied in everyday life. As always, it's great to have you as a reader. Thank you.

Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

The 12 Steps for Everyone- Steps 6 & 7

This week we are finishing up the 12 steps! We hope you have been able to apply these to an affliction in your life through last week and this week. These steps can be a great guide- even if you don't struggle with addictions! Step 6- We're entirely ready to have God (or your higher power) remove all these defects of character.

Do you recognize your weaknesses? Do you own them? Are you ready to let them go and purge them from your life? As strange as it sounds, many people are not willing to let go of their shortcomings. People hold onto them because they serve a purpose in their lives- even if it is a dysfunctional purpose!

Have you ever had a friend who complained ALL the time about something that is within their control to change? Think about what that person's life would be like if they took control of that issue? It would totally CHANGE who they are because they wouldn't have anything to complain about any more! Many are so uncomfortable with change that even if it creates heartache and dysfunction in their lives- they choose to keep it around because they are too uncomfortable with the change that would happen if they didn't.

I encourage you to make a list of the negative things you want to change about your character. Then pick out the negative things you struggle with letting go and in reality won't let go of. Look at what is left on the list and start there. Make a commitment daily to let go of these shortcomings and begin the transformation to finding peace within yourself.

Step 7- Humbly ask Him (or your higher power) to remove your shortcomings.

As part of finding peace with in yourself, you will need to ask for help to transform the negativity from your life. Ask God or your higher power to take them, or come up with a tangible way to give them to your higher power.

For example, take a pile of large rocks and write each shortcoming you listed in Step 6 on one of the rocks. Take the rocks to the woods, a big hill, or pond, and throw each rock as hard as you can. Saying prayers and purging out your anger at each of the shortcomings can be a therapeutic way to remove these afflictions from your character.

Each time you notice them creeping back in, go back to this exercise. Remember you might not be able to do this alone, so lean on others and God for guidance and strength along the way!

Keep reading tomorrow as Tamara covers Step 8 and 9!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.  Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

The 12 Steps for Everyone- Step 4 & Step 5

This week we are discussing the 12 Steps of recovery...  You might be saying to yourself "But I don't have an addiction, so this doesn't apply!"  We encourage you to change your perspective on this!  So far this week, we have discussed Steps 1-3, and how they can apply to almost any difficult situation we face in everyday life-- not just with addictions.  The 12 Steps are about finding Peace-- with God (or your higher power), with yourself, and with others.  Considering how fast paced our lives can sometimes be in today's world, I think most of us could use some guidance or gentle reminders on how to have more peaceful lives!  Today we will discuss Steps 4 and 5. Step 4:  Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

This step is about self-examination.  It's easy to become defensive and blaming when thinking about the problems in our life.  This defensive and blaming stance can easily ruin our relationships with others, and cause us to become stagnant in our self-growth, while remaining unhappy in a situation.  This step is about shifting the focus from how your life has been impacted by others to how you are contributing to your own issues (and hurting the people around you).  Blame is such a powerful defense mechanism that keeps us from being able to see ourselves and how we hurt the ones we love.  And it's usually based in fear.  It can be scary to look at our own flaws, but we are all human and have weaknesses-- we aren't perfect!  This doesn't have to be something devastatingly huge-- it could be a personal habit like being habitually late, not being a good listener, or being naturally critical, judgmental or pessimistic.  If we can't take an inventory of our weaknesses and flaws, we continue to hurt ourselves and others.  This step is about looking in the mirror and walking 360 degrees around yourself and your issues... If you can see yourself from all angles, including your blind spots, you can figure out the things you need to improve.  This removes our "blinders" and promotes healing and growth. We can't change what we aren't aware of!

Step 5:  Admitted to God (or your higher power), to ourselves , and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

When we do things (knowingly or unknowingly) that hurt other people, we can carry around toxic guilt and shame from our wrongdoings.  Many people live years and years of their lives without ever admitting their fault in how they might have hurt others (and themselves).  This could range anywhere from lies, secrets or secretive behavior, cheating, to physical harm to others.  This breeds toxic feelings and behaviors (specifically unhealthy anger/rage or bitterness) because they are internalizing their shame (and denying their true feelings), while pretending to be okay on the outside.  It's much like keeping an unhealthy secret-- over time, it wears us down and impacts all aspects of our lives.  People can't fully be in a relationship with you if they don't really know you.  And people won't want to get close to you if you are bitter, cynical and angry.  Plus, keeping secrets eventually becomes exhausting!  Step 5 is about the discipline of confession-- not confession of a religious nature, but rather "coming clean" with the truth of who we are, our true feelings, and how we have been hurtful.  The saying "The truth shall set you free" is so accurate!  There is so much emotional freedom in admitting to yourself, to God and to others, who you really are (warts and all), and no longer "hiding" your "self" or keeping secrets.  This step also paves the way to achieve forgiveness, which we will discuss later next week.

Did you recognize any areas this week where the 12 Steps might be helpful for you in your life?  We hope so!  Check back with us next week, where we will continue to discuss steps 6 through 12.  We hope you are having a peaceful week!  As always, thank you for joining us....

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.