Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mentorship- invest in another person- change a life


            There is a powerful tool we can use to help people grow, heal, and cause lifelong change. It is called mentorship. Guest writer Dan Saint, Youth Director at the Mission Church, Appleton, WI, has written an article for us on how to do mentorship. Dan not only has been mentoring students for all of his adult life, but he also experienced firsthand the benefits of it. Dan describes his mentor as a pivotal reason for why he was able to persevere and become the person he is today.  He was able to ask his mentor tough questions about marriage, careers and life, and through spending time with his mentor he was able to see 1st hand how to navigate the troubled waters of life.



            There are people in the world that can learn from books easily, I am not one of them. The well documented learning style ‘learning by watching and then doing’ is the only one that people are actually born with. The rest are taught, and so mentoring comes into play. Mentoring is inviting someone that you value and see great potential in, to be a part of your life. This could mean someone on your sports team that you invite to practice with, instead of practicing alone. This could be a coworker that you take to lunch once a week or ask to help you with an important project. I have seen amazing mentoring done when a senior high student stuffs their annoyance with a younger student and shares life with them instead. Sharing the joys and pain of life has a cost, as do any truly deep relationships, but you will find life so much better when you share it.

What is a mentor? (from the Quest for Authentic manhood by Robert Lewis)
  A mentor:
a.    supports rather than competes
b.    primarily a cheerleader, not a critic
c.    seeks to encourage the development of gifts while seeking to protect you from costly mistakes
d.    admires and delights in you because they instinctively recognize your value and potential
e.    not necessarily a close friend but is a close confidant.

For a mentor it is important to choose a READY person to do life with (from the Be-With Factor by Bo Boshers and Judson Poling)
A mentee is:

  • R- Reliable, must demonstrate trustworthiness and handle basic responsibilities well.
  • E- Excited, should be eager to be mentored and be a self-starter.
  • A-   Authentic, must be honest and willing to be real.
  • D- Daring, must be willing to grow and be stretched and have an appetite for progress.
  • Y- Young, must be willing to learn, to be teachable and open to receiving feedback and correction.

If you want to be mentored or mentor, I could not more highly suggest reading “the Be With Factor”. It is full of helpful information and guides you through the important parts of being a mentor.
Mentoring can be a life changing process. You could help a person turn a corner and achieve things they never would have otherwise, and have your own life changed in the process. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Do I have depression?



Depression impacts over 30 million adults. Depression can be caused by a serious event like abuse, or illness, but it also can come on for no apparent reason or a chemical imbalance.  Depression often causes people to withdrawal and isolate. Some times this looks like someone hiding in their room for days, not getting up to take care of themselves, or other times it is more hidden, and  people keep it as an internal battle. This is different than just feeling sad temporarily. 

www.aakp.org  has a great list of symptoms for depression:

1.       Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
a.       “No matter how hard I try, I just don’t feel happy or satisfied.”
2.       Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
a.       “What’s the point? I will never feel any better and this is all just waste of time.”
3.       Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
a.        “I have nothing to offer anyone anymore. I’m so useless.”
4.       Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
a.        “No, I think I will stay home because I don’t really care about playing cards anymore anyway.”
5.       A decrease in normal energy levels or feelings of constant fatigue
a.       “I just can’t get going.” or “I have no energy to even talk right now.”
6.       Trouble concentrating or making decisions
a.       “I sit here and try to read and I get stuck on the same paragraph over and over.”
7.       Unexplained restlessness or irritability
a.       “I feel so crabby all the time.  The littlest things upset me.”
8.       Difficulty with sleep, such as an inability to get to sleep, stay asleep or excessive sleep
a.       “I can get to sleep alright, but I wake up every night around 2:00 and I can’t fall back to sleep.”
9.       Changes in appetite evidenced by weight loss or weight gain
a.       “I look at food and it just turns me off.” or “When I feel this way I think eating will make me happier.”
10.   Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or attempts to commit suicide (If your loved one ever makes a remark about harming himself, take it seriously and contact your doctor immediately.)
a.       “You know a lot of people would be better off if I were just gone.”
11.   Persistent physical symptoms, such as backaches, headaches or stomach problems that do not respond to conventional medical treatment
a.        “I know the doctor says I am fine, but I just ache all over.”

If you think you have depression it is important you seek help. Depression can be debilitating and seriously impact your work and home life. Counseling has shown to decrease depression by 85%. This means your situation can improve if you are willing to pursue help!

For tips on how to help a love one with depression go to: http://www.webmd.com/depression/recognizing-depression-symptoms/helping-depressed-person.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A sneak peak into my book on Grandparent Divorce!





In this image (illustrated by Michelle Lund) Isaac is telling his toy cars/best friends that he was just told his grandparents are going to be moving to separate houses. When Grandparents Divorce is written with a professional perspective through added Q&A for parents to aid them in understanding what are age-appropriate behaviors and reactions. This book will help parents have those difficult conversations with their kids (ongoing as things change), explaining the very confusing divorce of their beloved grandparents. It is meant to help kids see that the emotions they’re feeling are normal—and to help them understand what changes are happening with their grandparents.  Most important aspect for the children is to understand that the divorce does not change either grandparent’s love for their grandchild.  Children grieve in many different ways. Getting them to process that grief can be difficult.

When Grandparents Divorce will answer hard questions like: 

What kinds of behaviors are normal when children are upset about a divorce in general, not just grandparent divorce?   
What can I do if my children are displaying behaviors related to the divorce?
How can I get my kids to talk about their struggles?
When should I tell my children about the divorce?
Is it okay to cry in front of my children about the divorce?
What do I do if my children are mad at their grandparents because of the divorce?


When Grandparents Divorce will be for sale in late summer or early fall! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

20 Activities to Help Your Child to Open Up



At times connecting with your children can be difficult. Sometimes we don't know what to do, how to do it or even what to say. Sometimes talking to kids directly about tough issues is intimidating, and they often respond by shutting down. Playing games with children can bring their guard down, and provide them the time they need to get comfortable in order to open up.  Reading a book that talks about what they are going through can help facilitate conversation as well.  You can ask them questions in a gentle manor like, “Have you ever felt that way? Tell me about it.” The most important key to getting kids to open up is spending quality face-to-face time with them.  


Activities great for opening up:
1. play a board game
2. do a puzzle
3. go for a walk
4. play in the sand
5. make things with clay or play doh
6. paint (brushes or finger paint) 
7. read books
8. camp
9.  go fishing
10. hike
11. canoe
12. cook together
13. go on a jog together
14. go on road trip
15. build something
16. work on a project together (like fixing a car if older)
17. go exploring
18. go shopping
19. catch frogs or bugs
20. find a hobby to do together

What is unique about the activities I picked for this list is that you can easily talk while doing these things. Also if the conversation lulls, you can focus on the activity. This helps make both people more comfortable. The more comfortable some one is, the more likely it is that they will open up. Whatever your child is going through, it is beneficial for them to feel safe talking to you. They need to know with your actions that you are available and you care. Remember it is not a kid's job to pursue you. That is the parent's job. Time invested in a child is never wasted. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Are You Hiding?




Are you faking it? What emotions are you covering up? What is it you are trying to hide? Some people feel the need to “fake it”. They fake at work, to their friends and even to their family. This typically results in isolation and no other person actually knowing and accepting them. Many people have been hurt in the past and have learned that trusting people isn't safe. For some there is a big underlining fear that,

“If people knew the real me, they would reject me.”

“If people knew what happened to me they would be uncomfortable.”

“I just don’t want anyone to know how depressed I am. I want people to think I have it all together.”

Or

“I can’t show how I really feel. People don’t care.”

Each mind set has the underlining fear of rejection. While your fears are valid and there is a chance of being rejected if you act real, your chances of rejection are higher by faking it. Ironically people encourage being rejected by putting on a show. People value authenticity and can sense when someone isn’t. Often our actions caused by insecurity, lead to our fears actually happening. For example if you are uncomfortable in a social situation, you might start withdrawing and even act awkward. This often leads to being/feeling like an outcast, confirming your initial fear. My challenge for you today is to deny the urge to hide and just be real. See if you actually get rejected. Perhaps you just might connect.  Your chances will certainly go up. 

If you are having a difficult time trusting people counseling can help you to heal from that. Don't be afraid to reach out. Some people have been hurt deeply by someone they loved and trusted. Healing from a wound like that can be difficult and often times takes help. The good news is you can learn to trust and have meaningful relationships again. There is hope. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How to be a Good Listener






Being a good listener is important for friendships and it is very helpful for people who are hurting. Many times people ask me how they can help their friends and the number one answer is just to be a good listener. Simply letting your friends talk can help them heal from their pain and feel more equipped to face the day. The world needs more good listeners!!



Stop talking and be quiet
Do not interrupt
Ask questions about what they are saying like:
What happened next?
What do you think you are going to do?
Use encouraging words like:
Let’s talk more
Tell me more about it
Mmm Hmm
Uh huh
I see
Right
Show you are listening with your body by:
Facing the person
Looking in their eyes
Not doing other things
Nodding your head as they talk
Avoid saying things like:
Are you sure?
That’s not that bad
Toughen up
You’ll get over it
Also avoid:
Being judgmental
Thinking of how you are going to respond when they are talking
Changing the subject




Thursday, March 8, 2012

When to Go to Counseling


Many people are not sure when to go to a counselor. A common myth is that you only go if you are crazy, or if things are really bad! Good news! Healthy people go to counseling too! Below is a list of items that a counselor could help with. It does not include everything counselors do but it's a pretty good start. Getting help always takes courage but people rarely regret it in the end. 


If you or some one you love is experiencing:


Transitioning through a major life event such as a big move, divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of a relationship etc..
Loss of interest in preferred activities lasting longer than 3 weeks
Relationship problems
Nightmares
High levels or stress
Self cutting 
Suicidal thought, plans, or attempts of any kind
Emotions so strong they are getting in the way of life (like anxiety and depression)
Sudden decrease in job or school performance that lasts longer than a month 
Sudden personality change for the worse that lasts longer than a month
Frequent conflict with peers or authority
Being bullied or doing the bullying 
Excessive sexual behavior 
Any kind of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
Problems with social skills
Anger management
Hearing or seeing things others don't
Impulsive behavior 


The great thing about counseling is it is confidential. If you are hesitant to come because of the stigma around counseling, no worries. Counselors are ethically bound to keep your information a secret.  No one has to know you are there and if you feel like you are not getting anything out of it, you can quit at any time. There are no risks involved. 





Monday, March 5, 2012

How I Made It Through the Week





I am not going to lie. I had a rough week last week. It was one of those, “I’m not sure I can get out of bed and face the day.” sort of weeks. On top of the stressors that I am still trying to work out in myself, my husband worked way more than normal, our pipe broke and we had sewage in the basement, my youngest son was regressing with his potty training and I was still anxiously waiting for the results of my Behavior Analyst test. I was not handling this stress well.  By the end of Monday I was so stressed that I was begging my husband not to attend his men’s group so he could stay home with me and listen to me melt down.  And melt down I did. I cried, I vented, and I basically embarrassed myself. Fortunately my husband lovingly and patiently listened in a non-judgmental way, hugging me all the while.

Tuesday was a significant improvement on Monday. My vent session with my husband gave me enough dopamine (a chemical that gets released from spending time in healthy relationships) to motivate me to utilize my other coping skills. I got back into my regular workout routine, prayer life, and doing things that line up with my values. All of those items gave me dopamine. You see the buildup of stress decreased my dopamine to a disabling level, but the exercise, relationships, and doing things that line up with my values gave me dopamine back. It took all the way until Friday before I felt back to normal again. I can confidently tell you that even on Friday I would not have felt better if it weren’t for the intentional time spent trying to boost my dopamine. Some of my stressors got resolved but some definitely didn’t. They still hang over my head as I try to process them but I can fully function again.

So remember next time you feel like you are not coping and life is really overwhelming there are practical things you can do to help get yourself out of that spot.
  
      Spend time in healthy relationships 
     
      Exercise

      Do activities that line up with your values

Friday, March 2, 2012

Emotional Hunger vs Physical Hunger

Great chart to help you recognize the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Thanks www.thelondoner.me! Remember eating emotionally is a quick fix, and leads to more negative emotions. Find healthy alternatives when you are craving food to fix an emotion like exercising, calling a friend, going on facebook, listening to music or reading a book.