Get help by reading, or listening to books
Get help by participating in community groups
- Celebrate Recovery (CR) is a faith-based group helping people with “hurts, hangups, and habits.” This is not only for those recovering from substance abuse or addiction.
- Al-Anon is for family members of those with addictions. They offer eduction for families otherwise unaware of how they enable the addiction.
- Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is for families and individuals. Those who struggle with depression, isolation, and mood disorders get support.
- Support groups from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
- Church groups
Get help by attending events
Here’s one of two steps you can take now:
- Sign up to get the first three chapters (for free) of Beyond Messy Relationships: Divine Invitations To Your Authentic Self.
- Sign up for “The Beyond Messy Experience” and mark your calendar for September 10th.
It was an awesome time in Franklin, Tennessee with new friends who traveled there from across the United States and Canada. It was my first face-to-face group event from Dan Miller’s Eaglepreneur group. Not only did we experience camaraderie, but it spurred a question we all need to ask. “Are you hanging out with the right friends?”
As we develop relationships with others, there are three qualities to look for: courage, curiosity, and calling.
The right friends are courageous
Since writing “Beyond Messy Relationships” I’ve been more aware of what resonates. I’ve been encouraged by most acquaintances, family, and friends. But there are a few who’ve left me feeling discouraged.
Of course, not all who’ve known me over the years are target readers for my book, Beyond Messy Relationships. Yet, it was a message I had to write. It was risky to be vulnerable. To practice what I’ve written motivates me to take deep breaths of AIR: Awareness, Intentionality, and Risks.
The group I met with in Franklin are not perfect people. But they are courageous friends. Our being together and hearing each other’s stories encouraged us all to be courageous.
The right friends are curious
We met at The Sanctuary, what Dan and Joanne Miller have named their dwelling. I was compelled to read Joanne’s book, “Creating a Haven of Peace.” Of course, I was curious about her’s and Dan’s 51+ year marriage. How did they create magnetic peace in their home? Why did others gravitate to this couple?
Everyone has a story. And it’s easy to make assumptions and make up stories in our minds about others. But when we take the time to be curious, we connect. And we become more aware of ourselves. We allow others into our lives and create sacred space between us.When we take the time to be curious, we connect. Click To Tweet
Curiosity is the opposite of judgments and assumptions. It’s a remarkable gift to ourselves and others when we take deep breaths of AIR with attitudes of curiosity.
The right friends tune in to their calling
My new friend, Teresa McCloy is an Enneagram expert. After our Eaglepreneur group event, I participated in her Real Life Process Retreat. When I heard her story, I was touched by her clear calling. Figuratively, she breathes life into others and helps business owners tune into their purpose and calling.
Are you hanging out with the right friends? Or a better question might be this. Are you the right friend with attitudes of courage, curiosity, and calling?Be aware, intentional and risk growing toward curiosity, courage, and calling. Click To Tweet
Your friendships may not be from across the United States and Canada. It doesn’t matter whether our friends are local or long-distance. But it does matter that we are aware, intentional, and take risks of growth. (Notice the acronym AIR?)
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou
Your next step:
Sign up for the first three chapters of “Beyond Messy Relationships: Divine Invitations To Your Authentic Self”
As we reflect “peace on earth and goodwill toward men,” I’ve wondered how to really give the best simple presents. There’s three things to consider as we prepare for Christmas. They are ways to honor this sacred time and give the gift of ourselves. Memories and expectations along with our perspectives can interfere with our gift-giving. Loving eye contact along with a prayer for peace enhances the best simple present we can give.
Memories and Expectations of The Best Simple Presents
Memories of Christmas pasts and expectations of friends and family can be overwhelming. As a child it’s easy to believe Santa comes down the chimney and brings presents. But, as adults we learn to guard ourselves against pain. Our beliefs turn to distrust, negativity, and avoidance where there’s perceived danger. And sometimes, we’re up against not just perceived, but real emotional harm. The wonder of life no longer seems wonderful as we move through relationships.
Let’s remind ourselves of the phrase “good will toward men.” Of course, we interpret “men” as all human kind. In this special season, we celebrate the coming of Christ. And let’s ask ourselves, what does that really mean?
Perspective Gives Us The Best Simple Presents
What if we could see the childlike soul of the person who holds discomfort in us? We may see a wounded, betrayed, hurt little boy or girl. Can we be open to see the substance of their being and look beyond their manipulation or rejection of us? If so, could we see their good will? If we could see their pain out of their own unhealed wounds, we could relate with compassion.
Loving Eye Contact Accompanies The Best Simple Presents
It’s not easy to make loving eye contact. Nor is it easy to believe in the goodwill of those who cause us pain. Yet, if we choose to hold onto our childlike faith, we can grow beyond our own woundedness. As a result, we allow the love of Christ and His healing touch on our own lives. We can give the best simple present of ourselves. Our souls are filled when we’re at peace with the life-giving meaning of “goodwill to men.”
An Attitude of Peace Makes The Best Simple Present
This prayer brought tears to my eyes more than once in my reflections of Christmas. May it touch your heart as you celebrate this sacred time!
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console:
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love:
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to
– attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi
Many of us well-trained professional counselors specialize in relationship therapy. But the general public may not know how couples counseling can make you more discouraged. It’s important to know the factors that get in the way of improving relationships.
Couples Counseling Means the Relationship is the Client
When a couple comes in for counseling, their relationship is my client. Even though they are two individuals, the focus is the well-being of their marriage.
There can be successful outcomes for couples counseling. And both of them need attitudes of curiosity about themselves and their partner. This is tough. It’s human nature to believe our spouse is the one who needs help. Yet, we all have blind spots that our spouse sees. And we all have quirks and flaws built into our personalities. For clarity, here are questions to ask:
- “What it’s like for my spouse to be in a relationship with me?”
- “Am I willing to change my part of the relationship pattern?”
- “Am I willing to learn from my past mistakes?”
- “Is my motive for counseling driven by improving my partner or myself?”
Couples Counseling Can Make It Worse
In some cases, couples counseling is not appropriate. Here are questions to ask.
- “Is drug or alcohol abuse an ongoing issue?”
- “Is there a sexual or emotional affair currently going on?”
- “Are you a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence?”
- “Are physical or verbal fights situational? Or does it characterize the relationship?”
Certain behaviors and attitudes are our “normal.” But it’s still destructive. We may not have discernment about issues of emotional and verbal abuse. For couples counseling to be effective, the well-being of each spouse must be honored. If it can’t, it’s time for individual therapy.
When Couples Counseling Is Not Appropriate
First of all, if couples counseling is not appropriate, DO pursue individual therapy. Secondly, it may be appropriate to come back to the couples therapist when both spouses can respect each other. They’re able to partner with common intentions.For couples counseling to be effective, the well-being of each spouse must be honored. Click To Tweet
Many couples’ therapists can be fooled by the most clever and charming of spouses who abuse. I don’t like labeling individuals as “abusers” or any other derogatory term. And unfortunately, therapists can inadvertently harm the bullied spouse if they lack additional training. And we’re all human. So even therapists’ marriages can have similar issues.
The power/control issues of emotional abuse are ingrained in our society. It’s vital for therapists to have acute self-awareness. They hold power in the counseling office that can repeat what victims experience at home. Too many in our field have unknowingly caused harm by lack of awareness.
Questions to Ask Yourself About Couples Counseling
- “Are you concerned about your emotional well-being?”
- “Do you see yourself as a victim in your relationship?”
- “Are you fearful of your spouse?”
A more difficult issue to assess is emotional or verbal abuse. And it’s important that each spouse is honored through couples work.
I’m not suggesting that we perceive one partner in a marriage as the victim and the other as the villain. Both individuals can be willing and teachable to overcome the power/control dynamic. If not, individual counseling will give a sense of clarity.
Start with your free consultation to find out if if couples or individual therapy is best for now.