How to live the fullest with the holiday blues

The holidays can be a time for joy, happiness, appreciation but they can also trigger sadness, depression, and remind us of things we are missing. These feelings are so common they have a name — the Holiday Blues. 

Around this time of the year, I frequently encounter clients who are struggling with loss in their family, financial issues, mental health, etc. They often ask me what they can do to get out of their funk. On top of therapy, medication, proper nutrition, and physical activity the main thing we need to do when we are struggling is to avoid isolation. When we are down and we isolate ourselves it escalates those negative feelings. 

Turn negative into positive

Doing something nice for others by giving part of yourself helps to get people out of isolation and feel good when they see the joy of others. Through volunteering, cooking a meal, cleaning a house, or baking cookies for others in need you can help yourself while also helping others. When we see the joy of others achieved through our efforts it helps to lift us up and feel good about the way we are spending our days. 

It is hard to get through the holiday season when you focus on all the things that have gone wrong throughout the year, or all the things that are missing. When you turn that negative energy into something positive it can help you get through this otherwise hard time more easily, and might also give you a reason to smile. 

If you are wondering where to start, here are some websites to help:

National Coalition for the Homeless: https://nationalhomeless.org

Volunteer Match: https://www.volunteermatch.org

Create The Good: http://createthegood.org

True love doesn’t mean healthy love

I understand true love. The intense feelings you can have for another. That whole, complete kind of love. But, I also understand healthy love and the two can look very different. 

Emotions vs. Behaviors

There is a big difference between emotions and behaviors. Emotions are what we feel on the inside, while behaviors are our actions. You can be completely head-over-heels in love with a person who treats you bad. It is possible to love a person who abuses you, or knocks you down, or keeps you from forming meaningful friendships. 

You can be in a relationship where you and your significant other both love each other very much but insecurities from one or both of you lead you to act in ways that are unhealthy. Things like being jealous, over-protective, or controlling. There are many cases where we enable each other to continue unhealthy behaviors like drugs and alcohol. The list can go on and on. 

The bottom line is even if you are in love, you need to be in a healthy relationship. Both parties need to be with people who treat them with respect and allow them to live a meaningful, fulfilling, happy life. Healthy relationships involve communication, give and take, compromise. They are about supporting one another through good times and bad. They are about arguing and learning from those arguments. They are about growth. Often times unhealthy relationships are not able to grow. They can be toxic.

Even the truest of love is not worth it if it is unhealthy. We have to take care of ourselves. This one life is short and we deserve to live our happiest life with a person who understands that means to us. In many cases, counseling can help a couple who might not be behaving the healthiest to develop a new normal. A licensed counselor can provide guidance, tools, and accountability. 

GUYS: NO IS A F****ING COMPLETE SENTENCE!

No. No. NO means one thing, it means NO. I want to shout it from the rooftops. There is no need to explain. No need to elaborate. If you are trying to have sexual relations with another and they say “no” that is all you need. That means stop. It means do not continue forward. Do not pass go. 

Those two little letters make up a complete sentence. They are instructions to stop. They mean that the other party has not consented to participate in this action with you. I don’t understand why this is so hard sometimes. All this talk about rape and “me too” in the news. Guys, this is a problem. It is a serious issue and it is out of control. It is never ok to keep going when you hear that word. It is never ok to assume she/he/they is “joking” or “doesn’t really mean it” or “will change their mind later.” No means just that. It means no. 

Never ok

I realize this post is getting repetitive, but I am not sorry. This very fact needs to be drilled into everyone’s minds. We are talking about consent here. Consent for sexual intercourse of any kind. It doesn’t matter if alcohol or drugs are involved. It doesn’t matter if the person “seemed interested” or was dressed in a manner that you viewed as “provoking.” It doesn’t matter if the person said they were interested earlier and then when things started they had a change of thought. It is never ok to continue after being told NO. 

It really is simple. It doesn’t matter what kind of urge you may be feeling, or need you might have to fulfill — you have no right to do abuse another person EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Let’s make the right choice here. Let’s do the right thing. Let’s remember that we are in control of our own bodies. We have rights to our own bodies. 

No is simply a way of closing the door, making a decision. It is a complete, serious, important, crucial sentence. It has no hidden meanings. No means NO. 

What does the Baylor rape case plea deal say to rapists?

If you have been following the news you probably heard about the plea deal Texas prosecutor made with ex-Baylor University fraternity president Jacob Walter Anderson. Despite the fact that Anderson was indicted on four counts of sexual assault, the prosecutor chose to avoid trial and instead agreed to a plea deal keeping Anderson out of jail, giving him only probation. 

Disgusting, outrageous, absurd, insulating are just a few of the words that flood my mind, not to mention fear — what does this say about rape in this country? What does this say to survivors? Where is the justice?

The prosecutor’s reasons for keeping the case out of court are ridiculous in my opinion. Citing a previous case, prosecutor Hilary LaBorde listed she was worried a jury wouldn’t convict Anderson and was worried about the survivor’s feelings. What about her feelings now? Without even a fight? The prosecutor said the case was weak because the survivor and Anderson were drunk. Are we saying men don’t need to be accountable because they are drunk? Are we saying this act is ok when alcohol is involved? 

We are further perpetuating rape culture. In the previous rape case, where this same prosecutor lost, jurors said the accuser “didn’t look like a rapist” — and what does a rapist look like? Or a murder? Or a saint? There is no concrete evidence supporting the way someone looks has anything to do with their ability to commit wrongdoing. This illogical way of thinking is setting rapists free. 

What about the survivors? Are they not worth fighting for? That is what we are saying, isn’t it? We are showing that rape isn’t that bad. We are telling people they can get away with it because no one wants to convict a rapist. No one wants to surface unpleasant memories, intimate information,  and vulgar actions. 

We need to change this culture. We need to stand up and show that we won’t stand for this kind of behavior. These actions are awful. They are beyond disgusting. They cause permanent irreparable harm. What about our children? Our next generation? What are we doing to show them this is unacceptable? 

Source:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/12/us/baylor-rape-allegation-letter-from-prosecutor/index.html

What to do when your daughter says she’s fat

We frequently think of teenagers as being the ones struggling with image issues, calling themselves “fat,” and starving themselves. But, body image issues can start much earlier. 

Recently the mother of one of my daughter’s six-year-old classmates told me her daughter had stopped eating ice cream because she thinks she is the “fattest in the class.” Last year, my daughter had the same issue. She wouldn’t eat because she also believed she was the “fattest in the class” and kept repeating how she thought she was “fat.”

I approached the situation by reminding her that only a doctor can diagnose weight issues. We talked about the meaning of “diagnose” and I asked her to stop diagnosing herself. I also talked to her about science and data, showing her her growth chart. I showed her where she was at and what is considered overweight. The data showed that she was not overweight, confirming that she had no reason to think otherwise. In the end, I told her to stop comparing herself with other kids because we all come in different shapes, colors, and sizes. I encouraged her to let the growth chart speak for itself. Since that conversation, my daughter no longer calls herself “fat” and has resumed eating normally. 

Whether you have a young child or a teen, it is important to deliver a similar message when talking to them about weight. You need to halt these thoughts before they lead to a lifelong self-image issue. As parents, we have the ability to correct these unhealthy thoughts. Rather than brushing them off and insisting that our children eat even when they are refusing for these reasons, present them with the data. Teach them how to think about things logically as a child and you will be setting them up to be a happier adult. 

Teens and Sex: Teens are choosing to have more anal sex now

As a way of avoiding pregnancy, more and more teens are choosing to have anal sex now than ever before. It is more common than you may think — or care to know. I understand it can be difficult to think about, but it’s important for us parents to empower ourselves with updated knowledge about our teen’s world.

In the book Vagina by Naomi Wolf, Wolf writes about how gynecologists report an increase in girls coming to their offices with fissure tears in their anuses from having anal sex. The tears—which are dangerous and susceptible to infection — are happening because no one is teaching people how to have this type of intercourse properly, safely, or pleasurably. 

Despite whether we agree with the act of anal sex or not, it is happening. If you don’t already know the details of it, I believe it is important to learn. The article “Anal Foreplay – The Forgotten Prelude to Anal Sex,” by Jaiya Ma, is the perfect place to start.  Ma, a sexologist, shares knowledge and tips about how to take part in this behavior in a safe and pleasurable manner. She encourages people to take their time and utilize resources to make the experience a positive one for everyone involved. 

As a parent, it’s important for us to understand our teen’s world. Let’s begin with these: 

1.) Read this article, familiarize yourself with it and work through any discomfort surrounding this issue or embrace the opposite. If it lights you up, own it. Allow both to occur. Find out what those emotions are and come to terms with them before approaching the topic with your teen. 

2.) Talk to your teen. Let them know that may encounter (or desire) the suggestion (or make the suggestion) to have anal sex somewhere along the way. Reinforce that she/he has the choice to do whatever they are comfortable with — reinforce the crucial importance of consent. Explain the things about it that can be dangerous and unhealthy, and let them know that there are healthy ways to engage in the act if she/he/they chooses to. If you have a daughter, remind her that it is her responsibility to inform her partner because it is her body, and her health, safety, and pleasure are of paramount importance. 

3.) Give my teen the article to read. Or, if they can bear it, go over the article with them. 

There is no doubt any conversation surrounding sex with your child is difficult, but it is so very important to have these talks and to make sure they have the facts. As a parent, you can obviously address this issue however you want. But I encourage you to discuss it. 

As a counselor, this is part of what I do. I address the uncomfortable areas of parenting and sexuality and try to make it a natural topic of discussion — after all, sexuality is a natural part of life. Our role as parents plays an important part in how our children claim their true sexual expression in life. 

Source:

https://missjaiya.com/anal-foreplay/?fbclid=IwAR0stMMA7R8_u0Om0pFhyq-ED1RPMIE0oxQ638yVcdL9ABW6lJ3JugJMJ_g

Helping your teen navigate holidays post-divorce

Holidays post-divorce are hard for the whole family, especially teenagers who have been used to celebrating as a family-unit their whole lives. Clients frequently come to me this time of the year wondering how they are supposed to help their teens navigate the holidays now that they are no longer with their spouse. 

It is understandably a daunting task and one no parent should take lightly. The holidays are an important time. Post-divorce holidays can be a wonderful time to start new traditions and establish a new normal. 

I encourage parents to get their teens involved. Ask the tough questions — how do you want to spend the holiday? Maybe they will want to go see a movie, have a special meal, or drive around looking at holiday decorations. What is most important to him/her/they? Maybe it is family cooking/baking, or the church pageant? Whatever it is— work with your teen to create a new normal that they will also enjoy and find special. Maybe they want to ditch the fancy meal and instead order takeout in their pajamas. The possibilities are endless. 

The most difficult part of the holidays now is they are a further reminder that things are no longer the same and they never will be. That is hard for anyone to face and can be an extremely emotional time. Working with your teen to create new memories, new events, new traditions will show them that even though things are not the same they can still be special. Your teen needs to see that life will go on and that they will be ok. 

As a parent, who is also going through a lot right now, take the time to listen. Hear out your teen. Consider what is most important to them and do your best to show them they matter. Your new normal will take some time to get used to but it has the potential to be just as incredible (if not more) than before. 

You don’t have to be alone

So often we try to fill the void in our hearts with something. We feel alone, sad like something is missing. We enter relationships with the wrong people. We turn to unhealthy habits like overeating, alcohol, shopping, gambling, or drugs. We are desperately trying to feel whole. In truth, there is only one true thing that can fill that void, one thing that cures our loneliness—its love. But, not love for another or love for a thing, it is love for yourself. 

Learn to love yourself

When you learn to love yourself, you are not alone anymore. You don’t need to find a person, a thing, or a vice to cure your loneliness. You just need to dig deep inside and recognize your inner being, all the beautiful things about you. Now I know that for some of you this is a hard thing to accomplish. It is that voice in your head that is always telling you what you did wrong, how you messed up, how bad you look in that shirt, or how much weight you have put on. And to that, I say— stop! Shut that voice down in your head. Stop the negative self-talk. When you tell yourself something over and over you begin to believe it. It is all you can hear. 

Go out and live your life

Recognize all the good about yourself. And believe me, there is so much of it. Love yourself for the wonderful human being you are. Love yourself for being uniquely you. Identify your strengths, all the positives and lift yourself up. Cut yourself some slack. None of us are perfect. Stop comparing yourself to others. End your loneliness, and love you. Fill that gap with an appreciation for your life and go out and live it. 

Why do we get into wrong relationships?

You have probably been there at some point or another. Maybe it was a guy you met at a bar, a co-worker or a longtime friend. They asked you to go on a date, you agreed. Next thing you know you are in a relationship that just doesn’t feel right. Why do we do this? Why do we end up in the wrong relationships?

A lot of it has to do with timing. It involves all the other things that are happening in your life at that time. Maybe you are feeling sad/down and not very self-confident and part of you thinks that maybe this relationship will lift you up, but in the end, it makes you feel worse. Maybe you are career-focused, on the up-and-up, and the right guy enters your life but you blow him off. You think you don’t have time for anything else at the moment. 

If you are single for a long time you might be at the point where you think any relationship is better than none. Or, maybe you are getting ready to move out of town or go on a long trip and you find yourself smitten. Whatever the circumstances, the reason we end up in relationships is a lot more involved than just our hearts. And, much of the time we don’t see the whole story until later. We get that “aha” moment as we sit down and analyze all the little details. 

The best advice I can give for those that frequently get into wrong relationships is to learn from them. Try to identify those factors that are leading you to make these choices. Talking to a counselor may also help to point out some reasons you are having trouble seeing on your own. 

How to get over a breakup

No matter what the relationship entails, breaking up is hard. It means change and uncertainty over the future. It can easily unravel your current life as you know it. You are probably feeling overwhelmed with all the emotions as you go through the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. There it is. 

You will get there. You will find acceptance. But how do you do it? How are you suppose to move forward? It is all in the power of your thinking. 

Someone once told me that accepting a break up means there is no future with that ex. No wonder that person was struggling with moving on — why would the heart want to move forward when it sees no future? That is a pretty bleak and daunting way to think about your future life. Rather than looking at the break up as the end of everything, pivot your viewpoint. 

The reality is — we do.not.know if down the road you might have a new beginning with your ex.  So much can happen in the future. You don’t know if you will meet someone new, someone, you have an even stronger connection with. Regardless of what the future may hold, you have to accept the end of this current relationship (as you know it) before you are able to move forward. 

You have to let the death process of the current relationship take place. Travel through those five stages of grief so you can find a new beginning. Don’t prevent yourself from having a future relationship by avoiding acceptance. Just because this one relationship is currently over, does not mean there is no hope for the future. There is so much potential. So many different ways events can take place and shape our lives. Make the conscious choice to change your thinking and find the positive.