Dancing in a Minefield

Tags

, , , , ,

Guest Blogger:  Lynne Oliver, LCSW Crossroads Programs for Women

I read somewhere that there is a delicate dance between parents and their emerging teens. Goody, goody gumdrops for that writer! My husband and I raised eight of them and our “delicate dance: was more like dancing in a minefield. We certainly were not “Dancing with the Stars” in our home. We were in a minefield and there were bombs exploding all around us. Sometimes we were throwing grenades as well. Although we were dancing as fast as we could, we were often running on empty.

For me, the first order of business was to clean up my own habits. Many of us have suitcases of guilt, bulging with unfinished business and rotten behaviors. For some reason we carry them around and even unpack them at times. How goofy is that? We sure can’t navigate through a minefield hauling that big bag of clunky junk around.

So what can we do?

Well, I live in Realville, so I chose to put my super hero cape away and join the race- the human race- and develop some survival skills. I also had to accept that I will never do the right thing all the time, but I will show up and love my child wherever they are at that moment. There is no magic formula and there is only one way out – through the minefield. . Parents need to redeem the time with their teens because life has no pause button. “Despite some adults’ negative perceptions about teens, they are often energetic, thoughtful, and idealistic, with a deep interest in what’s fair and right. So although it can be a period of conflict between parent and child, the teen years are also a time to help them grow into the distinct individuals they will become.” (unknown)

Anger is normal and universal. It is at epic proportions in our country. Parents must confront it wisely and carefully. We don’t want our child’s anger to detonate, wounding her and others. We don’t want it delayed so that it strikes in the form of many explosions later and perhaps damages the child permanently. Instead we want to defuse the anger as it comes along carefully and gently. Growth is a process. Immature people express anger unpleasantly. (We need to make sure we aren’t the immature ones.)

Because we love our child, we want him to become a young adult of maturity, confidence and integrity. We are willing to pay whatever price is necessary to attain that goal. We may not be able to control the outside world, but we can change the inside world of your home. We must be intentional in creating an oasis at home where anyone is welcome anytime.

We all have a heritage and we all pass down a legacy to our children. We want to pass down a positive spiritual, emotional and social legacy. Separately, each strand of this cord cannot hold much weight, but when wrapped together they are strong. Parents need to evaluate what we are doing now that either contributes to or detracts from building that legacy. If I want my children to remember me as a constant safe place in their lives, I must make the conscious choice to be a safe place for them on a daily basis. If I’m too busy to calm their Big Feelings or listen to their hopes and dreams, then I am too busy.

At the root of much teenage misbehavior is an empty love tank. Parents need to keep their teens’ emotional tanks filled. Love is our greatest ally. If parents are running on empty, they need to fill their tanks first. For me that means doing some things that bring me joy and contentment .Everyone has her own pockets of joy. Often, the best place to start is with breathing. Breathe in, breathe out, and breathe often. If you have a teen, you appreciate what I am saying. If not, let me try to help you understand. 1) Your beautiful talented daughter nervously stands in the kitchen with tears in her eyes. When you ask her what is wrong, she announces she is pregnant. Breathe. 2) The high school principal phones and tells you that your son has been arrested for illegal drugs. Breathe.

Laugh. Try to find something to laugh about. Laughter is free and, like breathing, anyone can do it. You don’t need any special equipment and you can even do it sitting down. I don’t suggest laughing hysterically in the Walmart parking lot to fill your tank. This could make people parked near you a bit nervous. (Don’t ask how I know, but I know) Pick your time and place.

Our family values are the compass that guides our teens. They are yearning for boundaries and good directions. Unconditional love gives the teen a soft place to land when she falls. When we love one another, we find hope. I don’t have a magic wand, but I have learned that communicating unconditional love to our teens is a fine place to start. An acronym for Love is “Living our values everyday”.

My journey has taught me that some things just don’t matter. Blue hair, messy room, loud music- a few of the “don’t matters”. Pick your battles wisely. Finally, remember the Parent of Teen motto, “We’re going through this together, and we’ll come out of it- together.”

Lynne Oliver, MSW, LCSW,  describes herself as a not so perfect (NSP) Mother  to 8 NSP kids. She is a NSP Grandma to 17 NSP grands and wife to one very patient NSP man. She says, “My children have taken me on journeys where I did not want to go and down roads I did not want to travel. Along the way I have learned a few things and I am living proof that perfection is overrated.”  She currently works as a medical social worker for Methodist Hospital and is a workshop facilitator at Crossroads Programs for Women.

April 2016 Programs for Moms and Daughters:

Putting the Sparkle Back in Your Daughter’s Crown:
ANGER MANAGEMENT PROGRAM FOR  TEEN GIRLS

Do any of these behaviors sound like your daughter?

  • Angry, irritable
  • Quick Temper
  • Easily annoyed, resentful
  • Defiant, Argumentative
  • Blames others for their mistakes

Outpatient Anger Management Groups Starts April 6th:

  • Six week program
  • Wednesday evenings beginning April 6, 2016
  • 7-8:30 pm
  • Girls ages 13 – 18 years old
  • Insurance accepted
  • $399
  • Call today! Group size is limited.
  • All calls are confidential
411:  Help for Mothers of Teens and Young Women 
This program is available in a four week coaching format. Scheduling is flexible to accommodate your schedule.  Sessions are 2.5 hours each.
Facilitator:  Bonnie Harken NCLC
Program Description:
Helping troubled kids or supporting young adults who are struggling is not for the faint hearted!  It is often a time when you feel alone and confused.  This coaching program is designed to offer support as you feel overwhelmed, disappointed, and isolated.  Helping your child and trying to keep up with your other responsibilities can be exhausting. It can also cause conflict in your relationships with others.  Learn how to restore balance to your life as you go through this challenging time!
Email or call for more information!
 
 
Call today.  No obligation.  All calls are confidential. Or email us here

                                  1-800-348-0937

What is life coaching?  Watch this video:

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Have More Satisfying Relationships: Examine Your Expectations

Tags

, , , ,

bigstock-painted-red-heart-in-the-palms-27807170What is the difference between expectations, needs, and desires? Expectations are hopes and beliefs that are focused on the future and may or may not be realistic. A need is something that is necessary for healthy relating and living. Do you know what is essential for you to have a healthy relationship (i.e. fidelity, kindness, lack of drug or alcohol addiction, etc.)? What are your deal breakers or non-negotiables? A desire is a preference about something you would like to have or receive.

If you are continuously disappointed by the people in your life, perhaps you are doing them a disservice by expecting what they cannot deliver. Unrealistic expectations can lead to anger, frustration and resentment. By rethinking your attitude toward others, you can be happier in your relationships and life.

  1. Why adjust your expectations? One reason to take unrealistic expectations seriously is that studies have shown that people who harbor these expectations are prone to anxiety, depression and unhappiness. Being more realistic may improve your contentment and emotional health.
  2. The habit of expecting too much from people often comes from childhood. Many of us think in terms of perfection when we are younger, but as adults we learn the perfect man, the perfect child, the perfect friend, the perfect job and the perfect body are impossible goals. Did you learn this habit when you were young? If so, try to give others approval, compliments and reassurance in place of expectations.
  3. Make a list of those who often disappoint you.  By acknowledging these disappointing feelings, you may see a pattern of people at work or home. (One caution here: if there is one area of your life where there are complex problems, you may not be able to have realistic expectations until other issues are resolved.)
  4. Understand expectations and dependence. We are often harder on the people who are close to us. When we depend upon someone, there are more personal consequences when they don’t come through. If your list is filled with people that you are close to, perhaps you rely too heavily on them. Not everyone has the same skill set. Reassess whether they have unreasonable responsibilities placed upon them.
  5. Make a list of the “good” qualities of the people you love. Perhaps a positive trait is connected to a negative trait that you did not see at the beginning of your relationship. (An honest person may wear their heart on their sleeve. An extrovert may be very opinionated. It is the old adage of a two edged sword!) It is easier to get a realistic view of someone’s personality than try to change a trait so that it is ideal in your eyes.
  6. Are you too focused on yourself? The psychotherapist Albert Ellis once said, “Where is it written that others must act the way we want them to. It may be preferable, but not necessary.” You might consider engaging in a sympathy or empathy-building activity. Attend a support group, volunteer at a shelter, help out at a hospital or any other activity where you are in a supporting role rather than an organizing role that gives you a chance to view real people and help them.
  7. Television and movies are not real life models! Hollywood depicts an unrealistic view of the world. Replace the “storybook ending” with time with people you love or choose options that depict people with both strengths and weaknesses. Caution: TV reality shows are not reality!
  8. What about self-help books? These books can be helpful for creating goals and positive thoughts but those goals can also be unrealistic. Take into account that those you interact with are often cycling through highs and lows and may not be their “best self” all the time.
  9. Don’t expect others to read your mind! Never expect someone to know how you’re feeling if you haven’t told them. Many times we expect people to understand how we feel just by looking or talking to us. People’s emotional mindsets may be entirely different, so they should not be held accountable for something they were unaware of.
  10. Consider realistic expectations a valuable skill set. As soon as you are able to redefine your expectations for people, you can use those skills in other areas of your life.

Unrealistic expectations can deprive you of a full, interesting, and satisfying life. They can form a set of limiting beliefs that get in the way of making meaningful changes. The good news is that you can reframe your expectations and have more satisfying relationships.

__________________ Sources available upon request.

Bonnie Harken NCLC, Founder and CEO of Crossroads Programs for Women has spent the last 30 years assisting individuals begin their journey of healing. Look for upcoming programs at Crossroads Programs for Women. Begin your journey of finding renewal, hope, joy, direction and passion. Each program is a blend of lectures, group discussion, and therapeutic exercises offering a healing curriculum in four and five day intensive outpatient formats.   We also offer group and individual life coaching. We explore the spiritual components of healing from a non-denominational Christian perspective. Why continue to struggle? Tomorrow does not have to be like today. We can help you. Visit www.crossroadsprogramsforwomen.com or call 1-800-348-0937.

It Takes Courage to Change: Day 4

Tags

, , , , ,

Research Study on Mature Women and Eating Disorders
January 6, 2016 – Pekin Illinois

woman on scale stoopingHistorically, eating disorder research has always been about teens and young women, but a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders shows 13% of women ages 50 and older struggle with this problem and that 62% of those surveyed say their weight or shape has a negative impact on their lives.

There are 53 million women in the USA older than age 50. Cynthia Bulik, director of the eating disorders program at the University of North Carolina warns that the disorders have serious physical as well as emotional consequences.

Weight issues can impact life negatively. In this study, weight or shape affected self-perception in as many as 79%, 41% checked their body daily, and 36% spent at least half of their time in the last five years dieting. According to the author, these behaviors and attitudes put women at higher risk for full-blown eating disorders. Women with binge eating disorder battle feelings about food that are mixed with fear, anger, anxiety, loss or shame. As the binge eating cycle’s progress, her emotions become so complicated that she can’t even understand why she continues to binge. She faces an uphill battle as she seeks understanding in her relationship with food.

“I have been in the eating disorders field since 1987 and it has been a dream of mine to open a center in Central Illinois to serve women who suffer with eating disorders and other issues that interrupt and disrupt their lives,” says Bonnie Harken NCLC, Founder and CEO of Crossroads Programs for Women in Pekin. “Since opening Crossroads in 2013, we offer intensive outpatient programs facilitated by a nationally known eating disorder expert, Mary Bellofatto, MA, LMHC, NCC, CEDS, TEP, F.iaedp, and Kellie Branch-Dircks, LCSW. Life and Recovery Coaching programs facilitated by Bonnie Harken, NCLC are also regularly offered in group and individual formats.

“America’s healthcare system has changed and the need for cost effective, intensely focused treatment has never been more important. There are many facilities that offer expensive long term inpatient treatment, but our four and five day treatment programs are unique. The philosophy of our approach is to provide programs by prominent clinicians offering focused and innovative care solutions.”

Contact: 800-348-0937
www.crossroadsprogramsforwomen.com
bresourceful@earthlink.net

It Takes Courage to Change: Day 3

Tags

, , ,

Relationships, Boundaries, and Breakups

bigstock-Businesswoman-covering-her-mou-32725112

Many seek help when they are going through difficulties in an important relationship. The emotional pain can be so intense that it hurts physically. Some have an authentic identity crisis. At the very least there is a fear of an uncertain future. The process of recovery and reflection can be agonizing but those who ignore this important work often repeat the same mistakes. Some of the contributing factors in unsuccessful relationships may include but are not limited to codependency, poor communication skills, and lack of healthy boundaries.

There are two types of boundaries: defining and protective. You determine your defining boundaries when you acknowledge your values and what needs come out of those values. Protective boundaries are often created through the treatment process.

Think of it in terms of your body. Your skin pretty much doesn’t change except for aging through the years. It’s the container that holds us together and by which people recognize us. When people see you, they identify you through your appearance.

Now think about your clothing. We wear clothing to protect us from the elements around us. We change our clothing according to seasonal weather and how casual or formal the circumstances and elements around us are.

Our defining boundaries might change a little but not that much through the years, like our skin. Our protective boundaries may change based on the elements around us, like our clothing. You adjust them based on how safe you are. In some relationships you may only need the emotional equivalency of shorts and a T shirt. In others you may need bomb squad gear.

Set and keep your defining boundaries—your skin—as a permanent part of who you are. But allow some adjustments in your protective boundaries based on the amount of safety you need in a relationship.

You have to understand that the other person has a choice. Anyone at any time can reject your boundaries. You have to accept that reality. Your choice to have a boundary must be protected and his/her choice to not agree with yours must also be protected.

For example, if your partner is refuses to recognize that his/her actions are destructive to you, it is essential to set a boundary around that behavior. If it is angry outbursts against you, you will need to explain that when an angry outburst happens, you will leave the room and, if you have to, leave the house until your partner recognizes how deeply his/her actions are hurting you. Your partner may not accept that boundary and get angrier and meaner. Your partner may decide to leave the relationship rather than change.

So is it worth it to set those boundaries? In a case like this did the boundaries cause the breakup? The problem was not the boundaries. You didn’t leave your partner or your commitment to your partner. It was the partner who made the choice to leave; you did not force the partner out. Your partner’s dysfunctional behavior cannot be allowed to keep you from doing the right thing.

The point is this: your boundaries will create a space, a separation between you and someone in your life. That person will have the choice to bridge the separation by making changes and becoming more loving or to increase the distance by moving further away or even leaving the relationship. You can do everything you can to keep the relationship together but you can never make a person stay with you. Staying or going is always a choice every person has. Boundaries aren’t guarantees of responsibility or concern in another. They can, however, bring reality and clarity, protect you, and show someone the path to change. They can provide a foundation for a recommitted relationship.

Boundaries protect you even if the outcome is different than you hoped for because you get the information you need about the character of the other person and the problem you are experiencing. In the case of a broken relationship, if you have kept a journal through the process, you can now revisit those early entries before you set the boundary and focus on the peace in your life now without anger and blame. You can grieve the loss of your “dreams” for the relationship but understand that you are being re-created for a better future.

________________
Source:  Beyond Boundaries

Bonnie Harken, NCLC, Founder and CEO of Crossroads Programs for Women has spent the last 30 years assisting individuals begin their journey of healing. Begin your journey of finding renewal, hope, joy, direction and passion.  Each program is a blend of lectures, group discussion, and therapeutic exercises offering a healing curriculum. We explore the spiritual components of healing from a non-denominational Christian perspective.  Why continue to struggle? Tomorrow does not have to be like today. We can help you. Call 800-348-0937 or visit www.crossroadsprogramsforwomen.com for more information. All inquiries are confidential.

 

It Takes Courage to Change: Day 2

Tags

, , , , ,

The Glass is Half Empty: Can You Learn to Be “Happy”?

bigstock-Happy-senior-woman-Isolated-o-38673904Happiness is probably a misunderstood emotion. For instance if you suffered from depression and through medication and therapy, the symptoms of depression were no longer present, it is not necessarily the same as being happy. Many believe that happiness has to do with a cheerful mood.   For purposes of this article let’s define happiness as the feelings of fulfillment based on the foundation of: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. These elements, which we choose for their own sake in our efforts to flourish, are the rock-bottom fundamentals to human well-being. What is the good life? It is pleasant, engaged, meaningful, achieving, and connected.

We have a choice at every moment; we don’t have a choice about what happens but we do have a choice about what we are going to do about it. Depressive thoughts are magnets for other depressive thoughts. They are more powerful than positive thoughts. It takes approximately three positive thoughts to overcome a negative thought.

So in addition to the emotional well-being that optimism brings, what are the physical health benefits?

There is one trait similar to optimism that seems to protect against cardiovascular disease: ikigai. This Japanese concept means having something worth living for, and ikigai is intimately related to the meaning element of flourishing as well as to optimism. There are three prospective Japanese studies of ikigai, and all point to high levels of ikigai reducing the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, even when controlling for traditional risk factors and perceived stress. In one study, the mortality rate among men and women without ikigai was 160 percent higher than for increased cardiovascular disease mortality as compared to men and women with ikigai. In a second study, men with ikigai had only 86 percent of the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease compared to men without ikigai; this was also true of women, but less robustly so. And in a third study, men with high ikigai had only 28 percent of the risk for death from stroke relative to their low-ikigai counterparts, but there was no association with heart disease.

The Women’s Health Initiative has the largest study of the relationship between optimism and cardiovascular disease to date, ninety-seven thousand women, healthy at the outset of the study in 1994, were followed for eight years. As usual in careful studies, age, race, education, religious attendance, health, body mass, alcohol, smoking, blood pressure, and cholesterol were recorded at the start. Optimism was measured in yet another way by the well-validated Life Orientation Test, which poses ten statements such as: “In unclear times, I usually expect the best,” and “If something can go wrong for me, it will.” Importantly, depressive symptoms were also measured and their impact assessed separately. The optimists (the top quarter) had 30 percent fewer coronary deaths than the pessimists (bottom quarter). The trend of fewer deaths, both cardiac and deaths from all causes, held across the entire distribution of optimism, indicating again that optimism protected women and pessimism hurt them relative to the average. This was true holding constant all the other risk factors—including depressive symptoms.

So are there magic bullets to overcome pessimism? In this writer’s opinion, there are. By working with women to measure the balance in specific areas of their lives, they can identify goals and determine the ways to achieve them in order to live a more fulfilled life.   Beyond those practical approaches to the obvious needs in their life, we recommend the practice of gratitude, meditative reflection, creativity, and exercise. Gratitude has the power to walk time. Yesterday was yesterday. Our memory is an image that comes from the original. When we look at it and highlight the good, it changes the memory. It doesn’t distort it; it highlights it. Just by doing it research says that your sense of optimism will go up for the next two weeks.

It takes awareness, training, and practice to begin to change your negative thinking. I use a Gratitude Journal template with my coaching clients to reflect on their day which helps them highlight the positive things that happened (even on otherwise dark days). I have observed that at first it might be difficult for clients to fill it out completely, but with consistency of completing the journaling exercise daily, they are soon finding more and more things in their everyday life for which to be grateful. So rather than determining if a glass is half empty or half full, be grateful that you have a glass! Optimism is a learned skill and practicing gratitude is an important tool which will help you change your thinking and change your life!
___________________

Bonnie Harken, NCLC, Founder and CEO of Crossroads Programs for Women has spent the last 30 years assisting individuals begin their journey of healing. Look for upcoming programs at Crossroads Programs for Women in Pekin. Begin your journey of finding renewal, hope, joy, direction and passion. Each program is a blend of lectures, group discussion, and therapeutic exercises offering a healing curriculum. We explore the spiritual components of healing from a non-denominational Christian perspective. Why continue to struggle? Tomorrow does not have to be like today. We can help you. Visit www.crossroadsprogramsforwomen.com or call 1-800-348-0937.  All calls are confidential and there is no obligation.

It Takes Courage to Change…

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Pursuit of Happiness: Transform Your Negative Thoughts and Feelings

bigstock-Beautiful-Young-Woman-Outdoors-45653104Positive psychology addresses important questions about how we lead our lives, find happiness, experience satisfaction, and deal with life’s challenges. Over the past decade researchers and practitioners from around the world have studied happiness and wellbeing. As a result a variety of techniques and practices have evolved that offer more than simply some relief from depression, anxiety, and stress. These are proven ways to be more positive and joyful in life with long-term and significant benefits.

We have a choice at every moment; we don’t have a choice about what happens but we do have a choice about what we are going to do about it. Depressive thoughts are magnets for other depressive thoughts. It takes 3 positive feelings to overcome a negative thought. So how do we begin to transform our negative thoughts into positive thoughts and feelings?

Gratitude has the power to walk time. Yesterday was yesterday. Our memory is an image that comes from the original so when we look at it and highlight the good it changes the memory. It doesn’t distort it but rather it highlights it.

How do we begin to look at every day with a sense of gratitude? Try ending each day by writing a few lines of gratitude. Here are some ideas to help you get started. What things did you have success in or made progress with today? What did you do that was a positive choice consistent with who you want to become? What did you learn about yourself today? What did actions did you do that take you closer to your goals? What about things to be grateful for and what did you do for self-care?

Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel Prize winning psychologist studying how people chose to be happy. He has proposed that humans have two versions of themselves: the experiential self and the remembering self. Though our remembering selves tend to dominate, there can be great benefits in nurturing our experiential self, for recognizing and appreciating the many moments that make up a day. By Kahneman’s calculation, a moment is about 3 seconds. Given that our lives are nothing more than a string of moments coming one after another, the average person has about 20,000 moments in the course of a day. Think back on your day yesterday. How many of your 20,000 moments do you remember? Odds are, it’s not very many. We tend to rush through our lives without thinking.

An “attitude of gratitude” may be a cliché that some automatically disregard, but I have watched clients keep a gratitude journal for 30 days and witnessed the difference it makes in how they frame their thinking.   Positive psychology teaches that there are three magic bullets for depression: gratitude, meditation, and exercise.   For severe depression these are valuable enhancements to traditional therapy and medication. I would be happy to send you a template for a Gratitude Journal, just email your request to me at bresourceful@earthlink.net.  The first few days it may be difficult to answer all the questions in the Gratitude Journal Plan but with each passing day it gets easier as you begin to replace your negative thoughts with thoughts of gratitude. After all, 20,000 moments each day equals 20,000 opportunities!

__________________

Bonnie Harken NCLC, Founder and CEO, of Crossroads Programs for Women has spent the last 30 years assisting individuals begin their journey of healing. Look for upcoming programs at Crossroads Programs for Women. Begin your journey of finding renewal, hope, joy, direction and passion. Each program is a blend of lectures, group discussion, and therapeutic exercises offering a healing curriculum. We explore the spiritual components of healing from a non-denominational Christian perspective. Why continue to struggle? Tomorrow does not have to be like today. We can help you. Visit http://www.crossroadsprogramsforwomen.com or call 1-800-348-0937.  All calls are confidential and there is no obligation.

 

 

 

Keys to Recovery: Accepting Personal Responsibility for Our Actions

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

foodphoto003One component of being emotional healthy is accepting reality as it is—not as we would like it to be or the lies we tell ourselves.   False perceptions or false beliefs can lead to a lot of what the mental health field calls “stinkin thinkin”. It lies at the heart of destructive behaviors which cause us and those around us a lot of pain. “Stinkin thinkin” sabotages our ability to be happy and find peace in our lives.

Denial, projecting blame on others, or just telling outright lies to avoid responsibility are some of the ways we avoid facing reality. Have you ever heard anyone say “I have been married four times; I have really bad luck with men (or women).” Hmmmmmmmmmm… The person who makes this statement fails to recognize that there is a common denominator in that equation. So what is the shared “distinctive” in those marriages? The person who married four different people and had all end in divorce is the common denominator.

There may be no more impactful thing you can do for yourself than to take responsibility for your life. There are all sorts of benefits. Say you make a mistake on a project at work. If you admit your mistake, people are more likely to believe you about other things you do. Your word has more meaning to other people when you take responsibility. But it’s not just a matter of trust. You also earn lots of respect when you take responsibility for your actions. If you develop a reputation for being the person who accepts responsibility for his actions, people will often simply ignore the fact that you made a mistake altogether.

There are negative emotions that come with not accepting personal responsibility. When you blame others, you may feel anger or resentment towards that person. You will almost invariably feel guilty or ashamed. The worst part about denying responsibility is an overall sense of powerlessness. When you feel like you don’t have control over your life, you can easily become depressed or relapse back into unhealthy behaviors.

Some of the defense mechanisms we use to avoid taking personal responsibility are:

  1. Blaming others
  2. Making excuses
  3. Complaining
  4. Playing the “victim”

Make the conscious choice to break the habit of surrendering your responsibility by:

  1. Recognize that you always have a choice of how to respond regardless of your circumstances.
  2. When something goes wrong, openly acknowledge it as your fault, even if you feel there were external circumstances that contributed.
  3. When there is a problem, don’t ask yourself who is to blame. Instead, ask yourself: “What could I have done differently?”
  4. Accept yourself and your circumstances. It’s not other people who made you the way you are, but only your own thoughts and actions.
  5. Don’t depend on other people to feel good about yourself. If you need external validation to be happy, you surrender personal responsibility for making yourself happy.
  6. You should be constantly challenging your own beliefs and filters through which you view the world. Your limiting beliefs make it significantly more challenging to take personal responsibility.
  7. If you mess up, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just take responsibility and move on. When someone else messes up, don’t hold it against them. If you cling to a desire to blame them, then you are shifting the focus away from your own personal responsibility for your life.
  8. Accepting personal responsibility involves letting go of the need to feel responsible for others. Everybody is responsible for themselves, whether they realize it or not.

When you admit to yourself that you are solely responsible for your life, you immediately recognize how much control you really do have. Any goal that you want to achieve is within your control and external circumstances don’t control your fate. Personal responsibility is also the foundation for personal development. By acknowledging your role in the process, you give yourself the opportunity to improve. In recovery accepting responsibility shifts the focus onto your control of the situation instead of feeling like a victim. By accepting personal responsibility, you gain the freedom to create your own life, any way you want it. You are fully in charge of your recovery!

____________

Sources available upon request

Bonnie Harken NCLC, Founder and CEO, of Crossroads Programs for Women has spent the last 30 years assisting individuals begin their journey of healing. Look for upcoming programs at Crossroads Programs for Women. Begin your journey of finding renewal, hope, joy, direction and passion. Each program is a blend of lectures, group discussion, and therapeutic exercises offering a healing curriculum. We explore the spiritual components of healing from a non-denominational Christian perspective. Why continue to struggle? Tomorrow does not have to be like today. We can help you. Visit http://www.crossroadsprogramsforwomen.com or call 1-800-348-0937

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Single Again: Mourning, Surviving, and Thriving

Tags

, , , ,

bigstock-Happy-senior-woman-Isolated-o-38673904

In her book, On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler Ross explained there are five distinct stages people go through when something meaningful ends. These stages are not limited to the experience of physical death; but also apply to divorce, breakups and other significant losses, as well.

When a couple ends their relationship, a death of sorts happens. The “us” you once were is gone.  The life story you spent all that time and energy co-creating together is over. Facing this death is similar to how we typically handle all deaths — with an onslaught of sadness, anger, fear, guilt, shame, and a profound sense of feeling lost, like taking a trip without a road map.

The emotional pain can be so intense that it hurts physically. Many have an authentic identity crisis. At the very least there is a fear of the unknown future. The process of recovery and reflection can be agonizing but those who ignore this important work often repeat the same mistakes. Some of the contributing factors in unsuccessful relationships often are codependency, poor communication skills, and lack of boundaries.

Other feelings common to a breakup are regret and guilt. Regardless of who initiates the breakup, relationships ultimately end because of the actions and choices of two people. Even if you’re the one who ended it and devastated your partner in the process, there comes a reasonable time to let go of those self-inflicting feelings of guilt and move on. You’re not alone in your breakup, even if it feels that way sometimes. If guilt is influencing your thoughts too much, it’s time to move past those feelings and start living your new life with a positive outlook. Make your amends and move on.

For me it was a time of lost identity. There were many losses to grieve: lost dreams, lost social status, and lost economic status. A single parent in the midst of a contentious divorce with two young children also suffering losses, I made many mistakes as I desperately tried to fill the void with new people and new experiences. Later came a second traumatic grief period when I realized that I had also lost myself and the things I was doing were not bringing peace or happiness into my life. How could I possibly have been successful when I didn’t understand my own values and needs? I was looking for another person to make me happy—classic codependent thinking.

Over the years through counseling, education, and coming to a place of understanding, I bring what I have learned into my life coaching practice where many of the women I coach are contemplating or transitioning through the end of a meaningful relationship or other significant losses. It is said that time heals all wounds but it is what you do with that time that helps you heal and move on.   The coaching process helps you look at balance in your life. You set goals in those areas that do not meet your expectations. And together we provide accountability for the steps it takes to achieve your goals. We explore the concepts of codependency, healthy communication, limiting self-beliefs, boundaries, negative behaviors that lead to poor self-esteem, relationship skills, anxiety, and other areas depending on the issues being faced. Coaching is a valuable support for women in transition. At the end of a coaching program, clients have a resource file filled with tools and education to help them continue their journey and their new life.

Life is full of compromises. Perhaps you can relate to “this is not exactly what I would have chosen for me, but I love my husband (or significant other) and I can make this work for him and us and I believe we can be happy”. But after the end of a relationship, that “old” you is gone forever, the “now” you is emerging, and the “potential” you is yet to become reality. Awakening your dreams from the past or exploring new dreams may be helpful as you begin a journey to the “potential” you.   As a life coach, my job is to facilitate your discovery process and support you as you progress towards your goals!

__________________

Sources Available Upon Request

Bonnie Harken, NCLC, Founder and CEO of Crossroads Programs for Women has spent the last 30 years assisting individuals begin their journey of healing. She is a Nationally Certified Life Coach through the Addictions Academy. Crossroads offers therapy and life coaching programs.  Begin your journey of finding renewal, hope, joy, direction and passion.  Each intensive outpatient program is a blend of lectures, group discussion, and therapeutic exercises offering a healing curriculum. We explore the spiritual components of healing from a non-denominational Christian perspective.  Why continue to struggle? Tomorrow does not have to be like today. We can help you. Call 800-348-0937 or visit www.crossroadsprogramsforwomen.com for more information. All inquiries are confidential.

The Holidays, Food, and Binge Eating

bigstock-Attractive-Frustrated-Hispanic-32609117Even the most disciplined of us occasionally overeats, helping ourselves to seconds or even third portions, especially on holidays or at parties. This is not a binge eating disorder. It becomes a disorder when the bingeing occurs regularly and is accompanied by shame and secrecy. The binger is deeply embarrassed about overeating and vows never to do it again. However the compulsion is so strong that subsequent urges to gorge themselves cannot be resisted.

Binge eating disorder is characterized by several behavioral and emotional signs:

  1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating occurring at least once a week for three months
  2. Eating a larger amount of food than normal during a short time frame (any two-hour period)
  3. Lack of control over eating during the binge episode (feeling you can’t stop eating or control what or how much you are eating)
  4. Binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:
      1. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
      2. Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
      3. Eating much more rapidly than normal
      4. Eating alone out of embarrassment over quantity eaten
      5. Feeling disgusted, depressed, ashamed, or guilty after overeating

    In addition there is marked distress regarding binge eating present, it is not associated with frequent inappropriate behavior such as purging, excessive exercise, etc.

    A person with binge eating disorder may crave sugar, experience stomach pain, find high or low temperatures difficult to bear, and have frequent headaches. The psychological characteristics include despair at being trapped in a binge/feelings of guilt/attempts at self-discipline cycle followed by more bingeing and more guilt. This cycle damages the individual’s self-esteem and is accompanied by self-blame which further damages self-esteem. The problems that may already exist or occur as a consequence include depression, panic attacks, lack of focus, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness.

    There are many reasons people binge. Everyone uses food to meet needs other than hunger sometimes. It is not about an “event” of overeating. It is about a “pattern of behavior”. It’s also important to remember the relationship with food and eating behaviors are the symptoms of more profound underlying factors for most people with Binge Eating Disorder. Individuals with Binge Eating Disorder use food to:

        • Escape
        • Reward themselves
        • Avoid a stressful issue or problem
        • Sooth anxiety, fear, shame, grief, and loneliness
        • Express anger or frustration
        • Rebel from dieting, from other’s needs, from the “rules”
        • Distract from feelings, people, and feared situations or stressors
        • Distract from disturbing memories of traumatic experiences

    While the exact causes are unknown, several factors are thought to play a part in binge eating disorder. The combination of causes and risk factors varies from person to person. Possible factors include genetics, a history of significant weight changes due to dieting or restrictive /irregular eating patterns, depression, mood disorders, weight related discrimination or bullying, problems with significant relationships, trauma and loss, emotional abuse or neglect, addictions, and sexual trauma.

    People who are obese and also have binge eating disorder may be at greater risk for several potentially life-threatening complications, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, gallbladder disease, certain cancers, osteoarthritis, joint and muscle pain, gastrointestinal problems, depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

    The experience of living with binge eating disorder is as distressing as any other eating disorder and often accompanied by a belief that it is a willpower issue and they are simply not “strong enough” to stop. Within a diet and thin-focused culture, the focus has been on weight loss as the goal. This “treatment” is often promoted by well-intentioned friends, family, and professionals. But with binge eating, dieting is a causal factor in the development of binge eating disorder. So it’s essential for treatment to provide alternatives to dieting for improving health and body image. In fact, weight loss as a goal of treatment—as opposed to goals of improved self-care–can be damaging to the process of recovery.

    For recovery to be lasting, people typically work with trained therapists, physicians, and others to address any underlying mood disorders, family dynamics, and complications from trauma. Ultimately, individuals must learn to treat themselves with the compassion and self-awareness needed for lasting recovery. Treatment is about helping people and their supporters begin this process successfully and knowing it will not be a perfect journey. There will be ups and downs. But over time and with proper treatment, those with binge eating disorder can find a much more peaceful relationship with food, their bodies, and themselves.

    Bonnie Harken NCLC has been in the eating disorders treatment field since 1987. She was a founding officer of Remuda Ranch Centers for Anorexia and Bulimia. Since February 2002 she has served as the Managing Director of The International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Foundation (iaedp). She has also served many major eating disorders treatment facilities as a consultant. She is the Founder and CEO of Crossroads Programs for Women in Pekin, IL. She is a Codependency Anonymous Group Facilitator, a Celebrate Recovery Trained Group Facilitator, and a Nationally Certified Life Coach through the Addictions Academy. 

    Crossroads Programs can help women struggling with eating issues.  Call today for more information:  800-348-0937 or email me (All calls are confidential and there is no obligation.)

    Reference Sources for this article: Binge Eating Disorder Association, DSM-V, and Medical News Today.com

Bonnie Answers Questions about Herself and Crossroads Programs

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

In a recent radio interview I was asked a lot of questions about myself and Crossroads Programs for Women.  I am posting this article because it may answer some of the questions others have.

My background:

  • I have been in the eating disorders treatment field since 1987.
  • I was a founding officer of Remuda Ranch Centers for Anorexia and Bulimia Inc. in Arizona.  I worked during research and development and then serving as a Vice President until February 2002.
  • Since February 2002 I have served as the Managing Director of The International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Foundation (iaedp).
  • I have served many major treatment facilities as a consultant.
  • In January 2012 I founded Crossroads Programs for Women, a division of Crossroads Programs Inc.   Crossroads is located in a historic, beautiful 1862’s home in Pekin, Illinois.
  • In 2014 I became a Nationally Certified Life Coach through the Addictions Academy. I offer recovery and life coaching at Crossroads, adding another component to our treatment continuum.

My past service and board memberships include

  • President of the Methodist Hospital Volunteers, Peoria IL
  • Vice President and Treasurer Pekin YWCA Board of Directors
  • Pekin Hospital Fundraising Ball Co-Chair
  • President of Scottsdale AZ Metropolitan Business and Professional Women’s Association,
  • President of the iaedp Board of Directors
  • I currently serve on Human Capital Executive Research Board (HCERB), which is the business intelligence arm of Diversity Executive and Talent Management magazines.
  • I was recently been named a VIP Woman of the Year for Illinois in the nonprofit sector by the National Association of Professional Women.
  • Member, Eating Disorders Non Profit Leadership Council

Why did you decide to start Crossroads Programs for Women at a time in your life when many women your age are retiring? 

  • Women helping women is not a new idea at all. Paul’s letter to Titus two thousand years ago spoke about older women mentoring and encouraging younger women as they struggle with situations and challenges in their lives.
  • Since I entered the mental health field as a business professional in the late 1980’s, I have witnessed firsthand how our modern culture and the woundedness of life has caused wonderful women to get stuck in their emotional pain.
  • And I have been blessed to watch as they heal those wounds and move on to live full, productive lives.
  • When this wonderful historic home went on the market, I knew it would be a wonderful, safe and secure environment for women to come and work on their issues.
  • With God’s help, I was able to purchase the property. With the help of my family and friends as we prepared the property, we now offer therapeutic programs, individual therapy, and life/recovery coaching for women there.

Why do you think God wants women to reach out to women?

  • Well, for one thing, we can do it better than anyone else. I say this without any apology whatsoever. Only a woman knows what it’s like to go through a difficult pregnancy. To suffer PMS or postpartum blues.
  • Most of us know what it is to work through the terrible fatigue that results from chasing toddlers for hours on end.
  • Most of us can relate to the boredom and isolation of speaking to children all day in monosyllables.
  • Only a woman understands the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) discrimination sometimes confronted both at work and at church.
  • Only a woman can really understand how another woman feels.
  • And only a woman can follow up properly. It’s easy for us to call each other and ask, “How did the talk with your husband go yesterday?” “Are you feeling better?” “Why don’t you come over for coffee? We can talk a little more and pray together.”
  • This type of loving concern and practical advice often will defuse conflicts before they reach a crisis stage that threatens the marriage or requires long-term professional counseling.

Why do you think women have so many struggles when we live in country where we are so blessed with so many opportunities?

  • Certainly in America women have more opportunities than women in many parts of the world. But with those opportunities come challenges.
  • With careers comes stress – trying to balance all responsibilities of career, home, children, relationships
  • Our culture sets a standard of beauty that very few woman meet – not even the models in magazines are real images – most are photoshopped to make them thinner, taller…perfect! Cindy Crawford, the famous model, is quoted as saying she wishes she looked like Cindy Crawford.
  • Divorce is rampant which leaves most women in a position where they have far less financial resources to care for their children and a great many of them have little or no support from extended family in caring for their children.
  • The world’s casual view of relationships and sex. With the loss of valuing purity and taking time to establish a relationship and a long term commitment, the consequences of these casual or non-committed relationships are often devastating to women.
  • Another result of casual sex is abortion. Many women carry emotional scars after abortion.
  • Everywhere I go, I hear the same cry from women—young and old, rich and poor, married and single. “I’m lonely. I’m tired. I’m discouraged and depressed. My husband just doesn’t understand my needs. My mother isn’t there for me. Does anybody care? Will anybody help me, or even listen to me?”

The outcome is that women often lose their connections. Our Connections determine who we are.   Our ability to connect emotionally and spiritually determines the quality of our lives.

  • So loss of connection is caused by:
  • Emotional pain that can come from many causes but it is too difficult to face alone.
  • These causes may include but are not limited to: depression, codependency, eating disorders, addictive behaviors, relationship issues, abuse, trauma, grief and loss, and other situational stressors.

What are the symptoms of the loss of connections?

  • Diminished vitality, fatigue
  • Disempowerment
  • Confusion, lack of clarity
  • Diminished self-worth
  • Isolation (Turning away from relationships)

Women today are pushing themselves to a level of excellence that destroys:

  • Their creativity
  • Their spontaneity
  • Their connections

In pursuit of meaning, we take on roles that no longer work for us, we become exhausted and resentful and we disconnect as a means of survival.What do you mean by the “roles” we take on? 

It’s really about taking an unrealistic view of our identity and thereby guiding our actions, relationships, and life to fit into that identity.

  • Superwoman
  • Victim
  • Savior
  • Perfect wife and mother
  • Award winning successful career woman
  • I see many women trying to be super women pushing themselves to unrealistic expectations in what they can achieve
  • After a trauma we can assume a role of victim which can become our view of ourselves
  • Some of us try to be “different” than God created us to please another person.
  • Understand: The more fragile you are, the more rigid you become! You take a role and you hang on to it until you are locked into that role You are exhausted but don’t know how to move out of the role

So how do you break out of a destructive role?

  • There is a way out of unhealthy roles thru the power of connection
  • first to yourself,
  • finding out who you are
  • what are your needs?
  • what are your dreams

Your reality is:

  • your behaviors
  • your feelings
  • your thinking

Many of us have layers and layers of emotions and faulty thinking that are too complex to figure out on our own

  • A therapist can be very helpful, and in many cases, necessary to help us find our path forward.
  • After you start to reconnect with yourself, then reach out to others. The first step for most is to seek professional help to understand what has disconnected you from your sense of self. After you reconnect with yourself, you then reach out to others to connect or reconnect with them. 
  • Disconnection can affect our relationship with God because when we are locked in a rigid role it requires a lot of energy and self-focus to maintain. As we bring our life back into balance we can once again have the joy of a full connection to God.

What are the questions for women to ask themselves?

  • Have I shut down and lost connection to myself and others?
  • Am I locked in a “role” that no longer fits?
  • Do I need to change my thinking to change my live?
  • How do I do that?
  • If you have tried to make changes but have been unable to follow through and make those changes, you need additional help to commit to change, it is time to seek some professional help.

What happens when we begin to connect again?

  • Outcomes of Connection:
  • You feel a greater sense of “zest” (vitality, energy)
  • You feel more able to act and do act
  • You have a more accurate picture of yourself and the other person(s)
  • You feel a greater sense of worth
  • You feel more connected to the other person(s)
  • You have greater motivation for connections with other people beyond those in the specific relationship

Tell me about the programs you offer at Crossroads.

  • We offer intensive outpatient programs. We concentrate a small group therapy experience into an intensive format. We have a daily program that is 8 hrs long and is presented in a lecture, an experiential, and a group therapy schedule. So a 5 day program is 40 hrs of therapy over a 5 day period. A 4 day program is 32 hrs of therapy over a 4 day period.  Since most group therapy session are approximately 1 hour long, this 5 day format is the equivalent to many months of weekly group sessions.
  • Also working in a group with other women, is considered one of the fastest vehicles for self discovery as we relate to the experience of others in a safe and secure environment. 

Psychodrama is part of our treatment process. What is psychodrama?  Psychodrama is a:

  • holistic, strengths‐based method of psychotherapy
  • people are helped to enact and explore situations from their own life ‐ past, present and future.

The scenes enacted may be based on

  • specific events in a person’s life,
  • their current or past relationships,
  • unresolved situations,
  • desired roles or inner thoughts and conflicts.
  • The method is typically used in group settings, with group members taking on the various roles in the drama as needed.
  • Witnessing and participating in each others’ personal stories can generate feelings of deep understanding and trust amongst group members.

What kind of emotional issues does psychodrama help? 

  • Psychodrama allows for the safe expression of strong feelings and, for those who need it, the practice of containing emotions.
  • As participants move from ‘talking about’ into action, opportunities arise to heal the past, clarify the present and imagine the future.
  • Psychodrama can offer a wider perspective on individual and social problems and an opportunity to try out new behaviours.

Psychodrama can, for example:

  • help people to better understand themselves and their history,
  • resolve loss and trauma,
  • overcome fears,
  • improve their intimate and social relationships,
  • express and integrate blocked thoughts and emotions,
  • practice new skills or prepare for the future (aftercare plan)

Each psychodrama addresses the concerns of the person who is in focus. The range of issues may be wide. The person who shares their work is chosen sociometrically by the group, highlighting the group concern. Hence all members of the group also share in the work in a personal way.

Do therapists have to have special training to use psychodrama?

  • Yes, there is a certification process for clinicians who want to utilize this method to enhance their clients’ treatment.
  • Mary Bellofatto, a masters prepared therapist from Naples FL, is the psychodrama clinician at Crossroads. She is certified and a certified trainer of psychodrama for other clinicians. She is also a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist and she treats a wide range of emotional issues. She has been a clinician for over 35 years and brings an extensive wisdom and knowledge to her treatment process. We are thrilled to have Mary as one of our workshop facilitators at Crossroads Programs for Women. She is nationally recognized as an expert in her field.

What about the spiritual aspects of healing? How do you address those at Crossroads?

  • We explore the spiritual components of healing from a non denominational Christian perspective. It is widely recognized that all healing has a spiritual dimension. Ours is defined so that women coming to our programs know the values and focus of our therapy.

What is life and recovery coaching?

  • Life coaching is a wonderful enhancement to the therapy process. A therapist will help you understand the behavioral blocks that are affecting you. Coaching is about helping you set goals, determining the steps to attaining them, and during the process.
  • Recovery coaching includes life coaching techniques but is also focused on sustaining recovery.
  • Who benefits from coaching? If a woman is going through a situation in life and needs support in setting her goals to obtain a desired outcome, then coaching may be the answer. Many of the issues we work on together include relationship problems, anxiety, codependency, loss, letting go, and life transitions.
  • In coaching we look at life balance and how to live a more satisfied life. What are your closing thoughts you would like share?

Does a person have to be in therapy to participate in your coaching programs?

  • No, it is available as a stand alone program for those who do not have more complex problems.  However, for those with more complex situations, it is a very helpful enhancement to their journey of healing.

What other things would you like people to know?

  • Life is complicated and women face many complex issues and difficult situations throughout their lives. Crossroads is dedicated to helping women who struggle with depression, codependency, eating disorders, addictive behaviors, relationship issues, grief and loss, and other situational stressors that interrupt and disrupt their lives.
  • Crossroads provides programs by prominent clinicians, chosen for their clinical expertise in well-defined treatment topics, offering focused and innovative care solutions.
  • Our programs are cost effective. We will check your insurance benefits. We also accept all major credit cards, accept checks, and have a payment plan through Paypal Credit that offers 0% interest on 6 months financing.

But most importantly I want women to know:

  • Our past doesn’t have to define our future. Our woundedness can be a foundation for our future strengths. At Crossroads with expert guidance and a supportive environment of women who share your struggles, you will begin to understand the “whys” and learn how to move beyond today with a new confidence to change your life.
  • Why continue to struggle? Tomorrow does not have to be like today. There is hope. We can help you.

Bonnie Harken, NCLC, Founder and CEO of Crossroads Programs for Women has spent the last 30 years assisting individuals begin their journey of healing. Look for upcoming programs at Crossroads Programs for Women. Begin your journey of finding renewal, hope, joy, direction and passion. Each program is a blend of lectures, group discussion, and therapeutic exercises offering a healing curriculum. We explore the spiritual components of healing from a non-denominational Christian perspective. We can help you. Visit www.crossroadsprogramsforwomen.com or call 1-800-348-0937.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 164 other followers