Workaholism

Serenity Prayer: Wisdom

Serenity Prayer: Wisdom

This week, Imagine Hope is discussing the Serenity Prayer and it's meaning.  So far, we have gone through serenity, courage and change.  Today we will discuss wisdom. The serenity prayer states "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;  courage to change the things I can;  and the wisdom to know the difference." 

Addictions- Workaholism

Addictions- Workaholism

This week we are focusing on addictions. If you have not read the previous blogs, it is important to do so as Teri has actually defined an addiction. Tamara also made an excellent point in saying with addictions, it is not always the "how much" someone is doing something but they "why". That is so true.  Today, I am going to talk to you about work addiction. 

Boundaries We’ve Set- Christy

We all need boundaries in our lives! Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to go about setting them. Our hope this week is to share some personal experiences with you, so that we may possibly help you in establishing healthy boundaries in your own life. Work Boundaries

I used to work for a company that was not employee-focused. The hours were long, the work extremely stressful, the pay was peanuts. We were expected to give and give of ourselves.

Our jobs were reliant on productivity. This made it tricky to ever take time off, even though we were given an overabundance of PTO. I found myself overworked and burnt out very quickly with this job. I knew I needed to do self-care, but felt guilty for taking a day off. So, I didn’t.

Months went by and I began to despise my job. I was angry and bitter that I couldn’t take a day off. I didn’t take care of myself and dreaded going to work. I found myself worker longer hours and bringing paperwork home with me every night.

Looking back now, I realize I wasn’t setting appropriate work boundaries. I knew that I felt burnt out, but didn’t listen to my gut. I wish that I would have had the insight to allow myself to take a day off here and there, for my own sanity. I should have been more willing to say “No” when I was given more duties. I had too much on my plate, and didn’t realize that I had the right to take care of myself.

Do you find yourself struggling with self-care when it comes to your job? Are there times when you need to allow yourself to say “No thank you” when more responsibilities are given to you? Do you need to decrease your working hours or stop bringing work home with you? Do you need to take time off in order to breathe and feel re-focused?

If you can relate to anything I’ve talked about, I would encourage you to set some healthy work boundaries. If you are having a hard time knowing where to start, please seek professional help. You have the right to take care of yourself!

Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.

Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

Preventing Burnout- Coping

After reading the earlier blogs this week, if you recognize that you are going through burnout, what can you do? Here are some tips to get your life back in balance and prevent things from getting worse.  Remember, if you don't do anything, it will only get worse!

  • Start the day with a relaxing ritual that helps you feel calm and centered.  This could be doing stretches, deep breathing, meditation, journaling, or reading inspirational material.
  • Learn how to manange stress.  Find books on stress management and dedicate time each day to researching how you can better manage stress in your life on a day to day basis.
  • Set boundaries with people in your life.  Some relationships are more demanding and "take" energy from us, if we allow it.  These relationships require that we learn how to say "no" when necessary, or else we lose a little (or large) part of our peace and energy being in them.  Saying "no" free's us up to say "yes" to the things that really matter.  If you struggle with guilt and shame from saying "no", go talk to a professional therapist to learn how to do this.  Not being able to say "no" will be a roadblock to preventing burnout.
  • Learn healthy habits in your day.  Eating well, exercising, good sleep habits are all part of preventing burnout.
  • Take a break from technology.  Find a chunk of time each day where you completely "unplug".  This means no cell phone, no internet, no Facebook, no television, and no email.  Learning how to disconnect allows you time for self-care and for healthy relationships.
  • Try something new, reconnect with a favorite hobby, and spend some time doing things that nurture your creativity and fun side!

If you have already passed the threshold of burnout, how do you recover?

1.  Slow down.  Force yourself to slow down and take a break.  Does this mean you need to start setting boundaries with others?

2. Get support.  It's natural when going through burnout to want to isolate.  Avoid doing this, but rather, find balance with time alone and reaching out to other's to have some fun.

3.  Re-evaluate your priorities.  If you are going through burnout, it's telling you that what you are doing is no longer working.  If you are neglecting something important to you, it's time to change your priorities and rediscover what makes you truly happy.... and then take action!

 

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.

What Does It Mean to "Let Go"? -5

"Letting Go" is a popular topic in recovery from many things-- childhood issues, addictions, codependency, and unhealthy relationships, just to name a few.  Today we will finish with this week's blog series on what it means to "let go":

  • Sometimes we might feel as though "letting go" means that we don't care.  This couldn't be further from the truth!  Letting go means that we don't do things for someone who needs to be doing things for themselves.  To 'let go' means we don't do it for them.
  • When we "let go", we realize that we can't control other people, their choices or their behaviors.  To "let go" means that we stop trying to control others-- it doesn't mean that we have to cut off from them.
  • To "let go" means that we realize that the people around us need to learn from their mistakes and feel the natural consequences of their actions.  If we are rescuing them from the natural consequences of poor choices, then we are enabling them.

What are some areas of your life in which you might need to "let go"?  Letting go of the things we need to allows us to live fuller and richer lives, filled with more peace and joy-- with less unnecessary stress and chaos!

A great resource for further reading is the book duo "The Language of Letting Go" and "More Languages of Letting Go", by Melody Beattie.  This book is full of daily meditations that discuss various topics on "letting go".  We highly recommend it, no matter what area of life you are working on letting go!

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 Masks We Wear- Counterdependency

This week, as a tribute to the Halloween season, we are talking about masks.  Every day we can unknowingly put on different masks that hide us from various things we need in life:  intimacy, self-worth, love, belonging, identity, and freedom.  So far this week, we have discussed the masks of Shame, Codependency and Addiction.  Today we will talk about the mask of Counterdependency. What is the mask of Counterdependency-- what does it look like?

Counterdependents wear a mask that shows the outside world a "tough outer shell" with various traits that represent strength and success (though as you read through this, picture the parts of this "mask" as hiding or covering up a very insecure, needy and vulnerable person underneath).  Some of the main Counterdependent traits that make up their mask include:

  • grandiose, or overly confident (to the point of being cocky)
  • Presenting to others that they are "always right" ( Their way is the "right" way and they are "always right")
  • Controlling
  • Success driven, to the point of being a workaholic
  • Independent-- Not good at being vulnerable and "needy"
  • Non-emotional or emotionally cut off
  • Abrasive
  • Show anger as a main feeling
  • Very visionary-- Counterdependents have great plans for the future to make them more successful, but little follow through
  • Not in touch with their own limitations (Counterdependents aren't good at recognizing when they feel sick and taking care of themselves when they need to go to the doctor, sleeping when their body tells them they are tired, etc.)

How can this mask  impact a Counterdependent's life?

Being successful can be a wonderful thing, but it can also destroy relationships if someone becomes so focused on success and a workaholic to the point where they aren't able to invest in their relationships.  A Counterdependent's difficulty with being vulnerable, expressing the full range of emotion, and allowing themselves to be in touch with even healthy needs, causes them to have difficulty with intimacy, which causes the partner of a Counterdependent to feel alone-- like they don't really "know" their partner.  It also causes a Counterdependent's children to feel a lack of authentic connection with their parent because the Counterdependent is often not present physically (often due to work), or might not know how to "let go" and have fun through play on their child's level.  Their abrasiveness, use of anger, and having to always be "right" and in control doesn't allow for mutual give and take in a relationship, can intimidate the people around the Counterdependent, keeps people at a distance from the Counterdependent, and doesn't allow relationships to be an intimate, two-way street.  Because of these traits, Counterdependents can often find themselves in the position where they lose many relationships and have relationships that are highly conflictual.  Not recognizing their limitations can cause premature death (not going to the doctor because they can "tough it out", when there is really a life threatening illness that eventually takes their life), burn-out, and a loss of relationships.

What Can Help?

It's important for a Counterdependent to recognize that the behaviors they have adopted to protect them early on in childhood, actually keep them isolated and many times, alone.  Addressing the fear that drives the counterdependent behaviors and learning how to be in touch with the full range of human emotion can improve relationships and help the counterdependent realize that they do, in fact, have needs.  Learning how to recognize their limitations and nurture themselves, as well as having intimacy and nurturing their relationships is imperative in their recovery process.  Also, acknowledging that the "mask" of Counterdependency is only just that-- a "mask", and realizing that they really are trying to protect themselves from feeling the fear, vulnerable, insecure parts of who they really are, is very important to moving past Counterdependent behaviors.  Many times, with Counterdependency, professional counseling with a therapist who has knowledge of Counterdependency is needed for healing and growth to begin.

So, which "masks" did you see in yourself from this week's blog?  We would love to hear from you!

As always, thank you for joining us.  Check back next week when we will be discussing body image and eating disordered behaviors (including food addiction).

References:

Counterdependency: The Flight From Intimacy by Janae and Barry Weinhold

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 Masks We Wear- Addiction

As Teri mentioned earlier this week,  for Halloween we are writing about the masks we wear as adults in our everyday lives.  Some masks are made to look scary, some beautiful, and some sad, some sexy or confident.  All of the masks cover the authentic self of the person who wears them.  Yesterday Tamera did a great job when she wrote about the mask of shame.  Shame is a trickster, just like our topic today: Addictions. What is Addiction?

Addiction is simply defined as the uncontrollable compulsive need of an individual to engage in a certain activity or use a substance even in the face of negative consequences. Alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, sex addiction, compulsive overeating, workaholism, and compulsive over exercise are all examples of addiction.  Over or misuse of drugs, alcohol, work, or sex can lead to the brain disease addiction when combined with a family history and continued abuse.  In the end, addiction is a barrier, or wall we put up to cope with, cover, or quiet, defend, or protect our authentic self.  Over the course of addiction, one becomes distant from his or her authentic self without knowing it.   The addict identity has been cemented to the individual’s self concept with shame and reinforced by regret.

How Do We Wear a Mask of Addiction?

"Without wearing any mask we are conscious of, we have a special face for each friend.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes.

We wear masks for two main reasons.  The first is to protect ourselves, and the second is to protect others.  In the first case, we wear masks to hide our true identity, our wishes, our dreams, our desires, or lack thereof from others.  We feel that we are not “ok” the way we truly are.  We use these masks to pretend we are someone we are not to avoid pain or rejection from others.  Addicts use drinking or drug of choice to help keep people away from their true selves.  No one can ever truly get to know you if you only show them your altered self.  Your spouse cannot love the real you, or reject the authentic you when you wear your mask of addiction.  Addictions of a sexual nature like pornography and internet relationships are masks or distractions to keep ourselves from becoming truly intimate with another human being.

Mostly the mask of addiction keeps us from discovering and being with our authentic selves.  We do not like the way we feel in crowds, so put on that mask and have a drink.  We do not like that we cannot control our thoughts, so smoke a joint.  We cannot stand to look in the mirror at our imperfect bodies, so mask it with compulsive exercise.  We do not accept the fact that with true intimacy comes vulnerability, so mask it with shallow encounters with multiple sex partners.

When we wear the mask of addiction to protect others, it is usually tied in with Codependency.  Based on flawed thinking, we want to be who others want us to be, so we use alcohol or drugs to become that person, or to wear that mask.  This mask is worn in pubic, to work, to parties, on dates, to please and cope with people you have to be with.  This mask helps alter you to meet the perceptions of others.  Unfortunately,  your coworkers, friends, spouse, peers do not see the authentic you, but who you believe they want to see.  Since addicts use "stinking thinking" to make decisions, the perceptions of what others want is likely flawed.  With this mask, you cheat yourself, and others out the experience of knowing you.

If you are struggling with addictions, please reach out for help.  Addiction is a medical condition that should be treated with professional help.  You may have an addiction, but your true authentic self is not an addict.  You are not your addiction.  You are not your mask.

Please stay tuned while Natalie and Joleen reveal more masks this Halloween week!

Written by Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT

Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT  is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapyfamily counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield

Is Your Life Balanced? Money & Career

This week, Imagine Hope Counseling Group is discussing the importance of balance in all areas of life and different ways to achieve balance.  So far, we have covered the importance of balance in your physical environment, fun & recreation, personal growth & spirituality, significant other/romance, friends & family, and health & fitness.  Today we will go over the last two areas:  Money and career/school. Money:  Having balance in the area of money doesn't necessarily imply that you need an exuberant amount, but rather the importance of having good spending habits, being able to take care of yourself financially, and living within your means (or cutting back when necessary).  Many times, individuals are so consumed with making more and more money, they fail to see the negative impact this has on other areas of their life.  More money doesn't solve an internal problem or fill a void that is caused by a lack of other things like friendship, genuine intimacy, or love, and it doesn't help with self-esteem and self-worth in the long run.  Additionally, sometimes people who think their life is balanced just because they don't worry about money might be surprised to realize that they are actually out of balance in this area.  Do you continue needing to earn more and more, just because you keep increasing the amount you spend and now become dependent on that amount in order to survive (even though you compromise other areas of life in order to attain it)?  Do you spend more time at work and focused on earning money than you do with nurturing your relationships?  This might suggest a lack of balance with money (or other areas as well).

Career Path and/or School:  is one area of life that tends to consume a lot of our time.  Many times, our job becomes such a big part of our identity that we fail to be fully present in the other important roles in our life.  When we think about it, what's the first thing we usually ask someone upon first meeting them?  "Oh... so what is it that you do?"  It's important to recognize what other "hats" you wear in life, not only your career "hat".  At a speaking engagement several months ago, my colleague was discussing the implications that job loss has on a person's self-image and the different ways to cope with job loss.  One recommendation she shared was to work towards seeing yourself with an identity that isn't about "what you do".  She presented the idea of introducing yourself using a life role other than career (e.g., instead of saying "I'm a therapist", saying "I'm an overly adoring and doting aunt to my baby niece").  At the same time, it's important to find a career (or school) path that feels personally fulfilling, since so much of our time each day is spent at our jobs (or at school).   Do you recognize the different "hats" you wear in your life?  If so, do you find balance in your identity with those "hats" and give them as much credit as your career?  Do you find fulfillment in your career/school path, or do you find yourself miserable in your job/classes, but you do it because of the money you make or because your parents are telling you that's what you should do? These things could suggest an imbalance with career path or school.

We hope this week's blog helped you recognize any areas of your life that might be out of balance.  We hope to see you again next week!

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- 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 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.

 

The 12 Steps for Everyone- Step 2

As Teri pointed out yesterday, as we discuss these 12-Steps, keep in mind that the Steps do not only have to be applied to addictions. These can be applied to anything creating chaos, disorder or upheaval in your life. Whether that be a job, person, marriage or poor habit. Today we're discussing Step 2.    Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

The goal of Step 2 is to create peace with God, your higher power, or your spirituality. Whether you're agnostic, atheist, or religious, your spirituality is what you make of it. Don't let your predispositions or prejudices get in the way of allowing this step to happen, because this is one of many important steps in the recovery process. Step 2 is a step of growth. It allows a person to start accepting things which before seemed entirely out of reach, be it ways of thinking, ways of acting, and ways of being. It's a place to begin anew. A person begins to ask, "Am I willing to believe there is something larger than myself?"  

When working the 12-Steps, and in this Step in particular, one has to realize they will only get so far on their own merit. A person has to acknowledge their own limitations and humanness, and trust there is something out there much greater and larger that can help. Once a person believes in a larger power, faith is born.

Please check back in as Natalie & Joleen cover Steps 3 & 4 on Thursday & Friday. Thank you for reading. 

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 1

Did you know that the 12 steps can be used as a guide through life even for people who don't struggle with addictions? You can use them as part of your coping when dealing with bad habits, an illness, people pleasing, relationships, or anything that creates stress in your life. Although the 12 steps have a faith-based foundation, you do not have to practice a faith to use them. These principals can be applied to your journey through life and it's trials along the way. This week and next we are going to break down each of the steps to help you understand more deeply how to integrate them into your life.

Step 1: We admit that we are powerless over (what ever your affliction) and that our lives are unmanageable

This step is about us recognizing that we are broken, human, and imperfect. You can fill in that blank with any struggle, addiction, person, or even your recognition of your separateness from God and spirituality. The first several steps have an emphasis on finding peace with God or a higher power that is greater than ourselves. The basis of this step is the acceptance that we are not invincible, but that we have a weakness that creates chaos and even pain within us. Step one takes us out of denial that we are controlling our afflictions, and the reality that they have control over us sets in. The idea of shedding this negative force in our life helps us see the possibilities of what life could be if we were not smothered by it's power. Step one is the beginning of a path of freedom.

I invite you to pick one affliction the next 2 weeks to apply to these steps as we guide you through them. I hope you find it helpful and eye opening for your life's journey! Keep reading tomorrow as Tamara covers Step 2!

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.

Recommended Books for the Fall- Natalie

My book recommendation is "Healing is a Choice" by Stephen Arterburn. Just the title alone speaks volumes. Healing IS a choice. We have to decide to keep doing what we are doing and getting the same results or take the big step of making a choice to do things to heal our lives. This book helps you focus on what you need to heal as well as offering steps to heal your pain. I like that Stephen uses biblical advice and incorporates spirituality into the recovery process. However, he warns against using "lies" that we as Christians are often taught to cover our pain. Some of those lies include:1. All I need to heal is just God and me. 2. Real Christians should have a real peace in all circumstances. 3. It does no good to look back or inside. 4. Time heals all wounds. 5. If I act as if there is no problem it will finally go away. 6. There is no hope for me... Just to name a few.

Stephen asks a lot of questions that are good to ask ourselves. He also talks about forgiveness and using your pain to help others, something we are a huge advocate of. My book is dog-eared, highlighted, and constantly being taken off my shelf. It, also, is a great book to purchase rather than borrow as you will want to make notes in it.

Tomorrow Joleen will share her recommendation. Once again, thank you for reading and have a great day!! P.s. Curl up with a book in the 90 degree weather!! :)

*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.

How do you know you're ready for counseling? Part 4

  As you have read, this week we are discussing ways an individual or couple might recognize if they are ready for counseling.  So many times in my sessions, I have heard "I wish I would have done this YEARS ago!"... Of course, we truly believe it's never too late to make the investment in your life that counseling provides!  Here are a few more tips on how to know you are ready for counseling:

  • When you find yourself repeatedly turning to unhealthy or addictive behaviors to cope.  Who *hasn't* ever had a single time in their life where they used something less than healthy to cope with a painful or uncomfortable feeling or life situation? (e.g., ice cream or chocolate when you are lonely or sad, a glass of wine after a stressful day, etc.).  When you find yourself *repeatedly* turning to food, work, alcohol, drugs, or other addictive behaviors to cope with life stress or personal pain, then it's time to get into counseling before your life becomes unmanageable.
  • When you don't like who you are becoming.  Usually, this is a result of much pain, discomfort, or resentment that has built up over time.  Many times we will see a person in individual or couple's counseling that has allowed mistreatment or dysfunction to happen for years in their relationships with others.  As a result, it has impacted the relationship with their sense of SELF.  Maybe you have "lost" yourself in another person or feel resentful and bitter about life because of the ways you have allowed others to treat you... Whatever the reason, if you find you are disliking who you have become, it's a great time to seek out counseling before you get too entrenched in the "you" that you dislike!

One of the most important things we stress at Imagine Hope is how VERY important it is to find a therapist that's a GOOD FIT for you!  Just because someone has letters behind their name and advertises their talent doesn't always mean they are a competent, ethical therapist with a personality style and style of therapy that is a good match for you.  Here is a link to a great article on how to choose a therapist:  http://www.imaginehopecounseling.com/fullarticles.php?ID=2.  We truly wish you the best in your journey, if you make the steps towards choosing the investment of counseling!

Until next week, we thank you for reading!  Check back for next weeks blog, which will focus on "Dysfunctional or unhealthy phrases we hear in counseling"....  Have a great week!

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.

AH-HA! Moments and life changing experiences- Joleen

One of my biggest Ah-ha! moments came shortly after graduate school.  In school, we learn about the concept of shame, and how it impacts a person's life (and mental health).  I understood the concept of shame (feeling like you aren't enough, thinking that you always need to "do" more to be "better", difficulty in hearing constructive criticism without hearing you are "bad" or "not good enough", just to name a few), I just didn't understand how it truly manifested in myself.  Discipline in my home growing up promoted quite a bit of perfectionism, therefore it also promoted shame.  A lot was expected out of my sister and I, which I had always seen as a motivator to me-- helping me to become more driven and to achieve in my life, but I still hadn't made the connection to the source of pain it often times caused me.  Shortly following graduation from my Master's program, I was working in a brand new field to me.  There were SO many things to learn about being a therapist besides the client interaction that school wasn't able to teach me... only experience could do that.  I was listening to my supervisor explain paperwork for the second time, while he went through my billing and shared with me the things I wasn't doing correctly.  At the time, I was working long hours and didn't have much balance in my life.  I was stressed out and wasn't taking good care of myself emotionally because of my busy and work driven life.  I was having trouble balancing everything-- taking care of a new home, trying to establish friendships and relationships in a new city, adjusting to a new career out of school, feeling alone and missing my family and support system.  As my supervisor continued to constructively critique my work, I felt this sadness and embarrassment, while tears began to well up. My mind was racing, and all I could hear him say was: "Why can't you do this right?  I've explained it to you more than enough... you are TERRIBLE at this!"... of course, that wasn't what he was SAYING, but that is what I heard.  My own thoughts were telling me: "Your life is a mess... you can't do anything right!  You are doing horrible at this career"!  That was when I burst into tears.  My supervisor looked at me, handed me some tissues, and let me cry it out.  Once I had processed a little, he helped me clarify what I was hearing and what he was saying.  I FINALLY understood and made the connection that this was my SHAME issues!  Realizing this allowed me to begin working on recognizing where some of those "tapes" in my thoughts came from, and to begin changing them into healthier messages in my thinking.  A VERY important and life changing moment for me in my own growth, both as a therapist, and in my personal life.  What is your biggest "AH-HA!" moment?

Check back in next week, where we will be discussing  negative thinking patterns or Cognitive Distortions...

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.