Secrets: The Difference Between Toxic and Healthy Secrets

Secrets:  The Difference Between Toxic and Healthy Secrets

So now you know what toxic and healthy secrets look like and how they impact your relationships… How do you know the difference between the two?  Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you determine the difference:

Secrets: The Difference Between Healthy and Toxic Secrets

Secrets:  The Difference Between Healthy and Toxic Secrets

Teri and Tammy have discussed both toxic secrets and healthy secrets, but how do each of them impact our relationships with others? Toxic Secrets:

  • Create an unsafe relationship which makes intimacy difficult, if not impossible, to have

  • Create distance between the secret keeper and the one who is kept in the dark

Secrets: Healthy Secrets

Secrets:  Healthy Secrets

You might be surprised to know that there are secrets that are indeed "healthy". gives a great rule of thumb. They say: "Healthy Secrets bring you closer to your loved ones, while toxic secrets create barriers". Healthy secrets build relationships & create a sense of closeness between you and another person. So, what exactly are some examples of a Healthy Secret? Here are some below:

Secrets: Toxic Secrets

Secrets:  Toxic Secrets

This week we are talking about secrets! Secrets come in many forms. There are healthy secrets, but also toxic ones. What is the difference? A toxic secret is one that will block you from intimacy and puts walls between you and your loved one. says, toxic secrets “hide a part of your heart, disguise your vulnerability which denies a gift to your loved one, or prevents your loved one from supporting you.”

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.

Summer's Here! Setting Boundaries with Teens Part 2

Summer's Here! Setting Boundaries with Teens Part 2

Ahhh, teenagers. Gotta love 'em. They question authority, push boundaries, and are so creative in their thinking. That's why as parents, it's best to be prepared, be specific, and be clear. Yesterday Christy discussed why teens need boundaries in the first place, and why technology boundaries specifically are crucial. Today we'll tackle another important area for teens: Dating.

Summer's Here! Setting Boundaries with Teens Part 1

Summer's Here! Setting Boundaries with Teens Part 1

This week on Imagine Hope’s blog, we are tackling an important yet often controversial topic—setting boundaries with teens. Your teenager will never, ever tell you this—but they crave boundaries. Just like adults want consistency, routine, and to know what is expected of them, teens unknowingly want much of the same. Boundaries create a sense of security, comfort, and an expectation of what is/is not acceptable.

Spring Book Recommendations: "Simplify."

When the sun starts shining again and the air starts getting warm, there's nothing like sitting outside and reading a good book. That's why we like to give Spring book recommendations. This year, I read a really great book that challenged me that I wanted to share. 

Simplify. Ten Practices to Unclutter your Soul. By Bill Hybels

I have been working really hard this year to unclutter my house. I never really thought of uncluttering my mind or soul. This book addresses many areas of our lives that we "clutter" creating chaos, frustration, and ultimately exhausted, unfulfilled lives. Hybels breaks it down into 10 chapters that deal with issues that clutter our lives such as overscheduling ourselves,  lack of focus, isolation (when you are surrounded by people), lack of rest, and not feeling satisfied just to name a few. 

Hybels is a pastor of Willowcreak Community Church in Chicago. Who would have more clutter in their lives than a pastor of a megachurch? Using his own examples of burnout, he helps us see the importance of taking care of ourselves, having boundaries, and using more positive, effective ways to schedule our lives. He does this in such a humble, down to earth way, with no judgement at all. 

As I uncluttered my home this year, I liked thinking about ways I could unclutter my mind and soul as well. I'm now living out some of the peace that is offered when we do the hard work of uncluttering. Thank you, Pastor Hybels, for your guidance and practical ways I have found to unclutter! 

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC LCAC 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.

Are You an Enabler? 4

Enabling is a way that we knowingly or unknowingly protect an addict-- which actually helps the addiction get worse, instead of helping the individual learn to become healthier.  Today we will finish discussing different ways we enable another person:

  • Protecting them from negative consequences.  It's difficult to see a loved one suffering consequences, even if they are obviously the direct consequences of their addictive behavior.  Sometimes it's the most difficult to see how we might protect someone from negative consequences when it doesn't seem to be related to addictive behavior.  Either way, protecting someone from negative consequences means that they never have to feel the impact of their unhealthy choices.  For example, if your drug addicted son or daughter can't afford to pay their cell phone bill, so it gets shut off and you pay to get it turned back on.  This might not seem to be directly related to their use, but if they are using their money for drugs and not paying their bills, you are protecting them and enabling.  Another example would be if your spouse is too hung over to go to work or a family function and you call his work or smooth things over so no one is angry with him/her.  Or maybe your wife or husband hits a car while driving drunk, and you get the car fixed on the side and lie to the police so they don't get in trouble with the law.  Natural consequences are how we learn to change.  If an addict doesn't feel the uncomfortable feelings as a result of their choices, they will most likely stay exactly like they are.
  • Avoiding social functions.  When you make excuses to avoid social situations because you are embarrassed by your loved one's addictive behavior, you are enabling them to keep their behavior a secret.  This causes you to become the one in the relationship carrying the weight of shame that belongs to the addict.  It also isolates you and decreases your support system, keeping you even more dependent on your relationship with the addict (even though you aren't getting your needs met).
  • Offer the addict a job.  This is a way that rescues the addict from once again facing the necessary consequences to their actions.  Maybe they have lost their job for addiction related reasons (poor attendance, viewing pornography at the workplace, coming to work while still under the influence, etc.).  Providing them a job is like handing them money to go use, which is enabling.  It doesn't allow the addict to take full responsibility for finding their way in life and being an adult, which only feeds their addictive behavior.
  • Pay for school.  Many times, it's easy to become so hopeful that if an addict only gets what they need, they will be happier and stop using.  This can make a parent or loved one step in and offer to pay for things, such as school, that seem like providing them the "tools" to succeed.  However, when an addict is still using, they will most always pick their drug of choice over the day to day responsibilities of adulthood.  Doing this takes away the addicts sense of ownership for the decisions to get better, and can prevent them from feeling the pride of accomplishment for going through something difficult to make a better life for themselves.  It can then leave the enabler angry and bitter when the addict isn't following through with investing in classes, homework, or attendance.
  • Pay for alcohol or other drug use.  Sometimes the fear of what a person might do (or how they might feel) when they are without a substance can cause an enabler to actually provide the very thing they hate the most.  Maybe you are afraid your child will start selling their body for drugs or fear they will harm you in anger, threaten you or steal from you, so instead of setting boundaries with them and being firm, it's "easier" to give in and buy them what they are addicted to.  It might also be the only way you know how to feel close to them-- since drugs or alcohol are the most important thing to them, you "join" them to feel as though you are a part of their life.  However this manifests, it only shows the addict that you aren't willing to set the boundaries necessary to take care of yourself and that you don't really believe in them or their ability to get clean.  It also can create a great amount of shame for the enabler, knowing you are helping their addiction thrive.

Did you recognize any of the enabling behaviors this week?  Loving an addict can be a very difficult thing, and it's something that most of us can't do without a healthy support system and the help of others to hold us accountable.  If you are struggling with addiction in your family or with a loved one, we encourage you to seek out the help of a professional to work on your enabling behaviors and learning healthy boundaries.  The positive changes of one person in a family system can have a dramatic impact on the rest of a family system.  Even if the addict continues using, you will feel healthier, happier and more whole because you are taking care of yourself-- and letting them take responsibility for their own life. 

Joleen Watson, MS, LMFT, 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.

How Dysfunctional Families Affect Children Part 4

How Dysfunctional Families Affect Children Part 4

A child naturally feels wants and has needs. This is built into them as babies- we are helpless, therefore we need and want things from our caretakers. In a dysfunctional family, a child can become too dependent on their family or even anti-dependent (meaning they are without needs or wants).

Tips To Nurture Relationships Part 2

Tips To Nurture Relationships Part 2

Opportunities to Build Trust

Trust is an essential ingredient in every relationship. Trust is extremely important in marriages, romantic relationships, with our children and other family members. When the person we're in a relationship with feels a lack of trust with us, they lose hope and a sense resentment starts to build.

Myths About Love - Part 2

Myths About Love - Part 2

 This week we want to address some common misperceptions about love. Love can be a wonderful experience when it is mature, based in reality and honest. Love can be hurtful when we enter it with misperceptions. Here are some common myths about love: