My Special List of Friends

This article originally appeared on the Support4Change website, and is reposted here.

As we grow and change, we must retain some flexibility to help us deal with new situations.

Several years ago I got a Christmas card with a poem that was almost identical to the following and the next year we sent it with our greetings. I believe it expresses what each of is thinking when we send greetings to a list of people with whom we don’t communicate more than once every year.

I recently discovered that a variation of this was originally written by Helen Steiner Rice. No matter how it is said, the message is wonderfully true.

— ARLENE F. HARDER, MA, MFT, Editor-in-Chief Read More

Breathing Essentials

This article originally appeared on the Support4Change website, and is reposted here.

As we grow and change, we must retain some flexibility to help us deal with new situations.

Pink Pearl Island-1

One of the easiest techniques to encourage both images and relaxation is use of the breath to quiet the mind’s chatter.

When I was first introduced to imagery techniques in 1977, the instructor talked about breathing “properly,” implying that the way I was doing it wasn’t correct. However, she didn’t then go on to explain the why’s and wherefores of the “right” way. Since I was clearly benefiting from my imagery work, I assumed the specific breathing technique wasn’t a big deal after all. Read More

Your Next Stage of Growth

This article originally appeared on the Support4Change website, and is reposted here.

As we grow and change, we must retain some flexibility to help us deal with new situations.

I love people. I love my family, my children . . . but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.     —Pearl S. Buck

Inside Nautilus Pompilius.jpg
Is there anyone who doesn’t admire a beautiful seashell? When we find them washed up upon the shore after a storm, it is as though they are gifts from God, a legacy of the sea creature’s life. These multi-colored, elaborately designed former homes of living creatures grace a special place on a bookshelf, brighten simple bowls, and are made into jewelry. Read More

Is Your Family “Normal ”?

All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.     —Leo Tolstoy

All happy families are more or less dissimilar; all unhappy ones are more or less alike.     —Vladimir Nabokov

Long before these Russian writers made their observations, people have divided families into categories, such as happy and unhappy, successful and unsuccessful, average and not average. Marriage and family therapists use a variety of terms to determine the level of stability or dysfunction in a family. When looking at a particular family, perhaps yours, they might say your family is “normal” based on one classification system but not on another.

However, if there is a lot of stress in your family for some reason and more arguments and lack of communication than you would like, the people in your family are hurting and you may not care how anyone else labels you. When you’re in pain, you can feel very isolated, as though everyone else has figured out how to create better family dynamics than you have. Read More

Five Kinds of Guilt

We need some kinds of guilt to keep from making mistakes, but
unhealthy guilt keeps us from functioning as well as we should.

Kona Coast sunset - NOAA.jpg
Public Domain, Link

As a recovering perfectionist, I might have titled this article “Therapist Heal Thyself” because I know a LOT about guilt. I’ve spent many hours in and out of therapy in an attempt to get out from under the burden of guilt I had piled upon myself. So I want you to know that I’m talking about a phenomena that applies to me as much as it does to clients — and maybe, just maybe, it’s possible, feasible, likely, and just a little probable that it applies to you as well.

While it is true that often one shouldn’t feel guilty because “after all, you did the best you could,” such an attitude can also perpetuate the don’t-blame-me-it-was-society’s-fault that is used as an excuse for crimes both petty and serious. Read More