Addiction

A Higher Power for Those Who Don’t Believe in a Higher Power

This article is not directed toward individuals who do not find themselves struggling to embrace a Higher Power of their understanding while working toward recovery. It is directed at those who may want to embrace something, yet cannot identify with what they are comfortable.

Several of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (and Narcotics Anonymous) involve a Higher Power, so one could imagine this being offputting to someone who does not identify one. It can be challenging to wrap your head around the steps if God or a Higher Power is not in your life.

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General

Childhood Trauma: Overcoming the Hurt of Invalidation

“When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.”
-- Brene Brown
I talk about my childhood trauma because I lived in denial for most of my life. I write about it because I didn’t understand what happened, why it happened, what it meant. I couldn't explain all these feelings of shame, depression, and disgust. As I grow to understand it better, I hope my writing can help other victims who feel lost and scour the internet for answers -- for a childhood they can relate to.
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General

Differentiating Shame from Guilt: It’s Not So Easy

It is clear that toxic shame is a destructive emotion that saps our energy and robs us of the joy of being alive. But does that mean that all shame is bad

Brene Brown defines shame as “The intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging -- something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”

But toxic shame cuts to the core of our identity. We carry a dark sense of being deeply flawed and defective. This is so painful that we desperately try to hide it from others and develop compensatory behaviors (such as seeking power and wealth or constantly joking) that are designed to distract people from noticing how flawed we are (or think we are).

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Anxiety and Panic

Spirituality vs. Mental Disorders: God Doesn’t Hate Medication

I grew up in a family that had high expectations of me, and I have personally struggled with anxiety. For several years, I thought that my anxiety was a normal part of life. I didn’t realize that I should not have been having full-blown anxiety at the age of nine, but I was.

My family didn’t believe in mental illnesses, besides those that were obvious to the untrained eye. We did, however, attend a church regularly. I was highly interested in Christianity and studied it on my own. I was able to combat the unnatural anxiety through my relationship with God, and was able to overcome the anxiety throughout middle and high school. College, however, was different.
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Brain and Behavior

4 Tips for Feeling Successful

"If I try to fail and succeed, which have I done?" - Anonymous
I use the above quote with my college students. I try to challenge them to look at life from a different perspective. In challenging our perspectives I am not merely playing semantics -- I firmly believe that words actually do hold meaning. Words have the power to affect our emotions. By challenging ourselves to look at our own definitions from a new perspective, we have the ability to change how we feel.

How I define success influences how I feel about myself. Many of us have culturally learned that success is defined by tangible goods and wealth. We hear expressions such as “If I have more things than someone else, I am successful” or “if I have a title or initials after my name, I am successful.” Does someone else's level of success negate my perceived level of success? In other words, is one's success defined in relation to another's accomplishments?

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Children and Teens

Why You Should Support Your Child’s Interests

My 11-year-old son Tommy collects stuffed bananas. You know, stuffed banana plush toys. He found his first one (and all of them, in fact) at the thrift store. This initial stuffed fruit was not just an ordinary banana, it was a stuffed Rastafarian banana complete with dreadlocks.

“What is this?” he asked.

“It’s a Rastafarian banana,” I said with glee.

Needless to say, Tommy had to have it. The price was right -- $3. We bought it and took it home.

This purchase brought on an extensive Internet research project on the Rastafarian religion.
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Celebrities

Whom Do You Respect?

Take a minute and consider the question, whom do you respect? Should this be a long list or a very short one? The problem with a long list is the candidates probably can’t be well vetted. A short list may make us out to be too cynical.

Let’s define the size of the list. You can only put five names on this esteemed list. This won’t restrict you, just possibly be a cause for adjustment of the definition.

Maybe you’ve gotten this far and can’t figure out why you should bother to make such a list. It’s because this list is a reflection of who you have become, failed to become, or still desire to become.
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Caregivers

Caregiving: Trading Solitude for a New Place of Wholeness


For many years, I looked to solitude as a sacred space for nurturing my soul. My routine was to get up early, retreat to a small desk by a window, light a candle, and then meditate while waiting for the sun to rise. I found this morning ritual deeply satisfying and helpful in setting an intention for the day. I never posted an actual “Do not disturb” sign, but I certainly relished this time alone for meditating, reflecting, and journal writing.

But then things changed. My husband became chronically ill, and I became his caregiver. This meant being available and responsive to his needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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Personal

Keeping the Fire Alive: One Man’s Renewed Life Commitment


Since my first vision quest 18 years ago, I’ve made a commitment to go out into the wilderness every year alone and fast, typically for three days and nights. This sacred time gives me the opportunity to contemplate my life and to renew my commitment to my life’s purpose. But this year I did something different.

Inspired by a teenage experience as an Eagle Scout and perhaps by that pivotal line in so many adventure movies, “I’ll take this watch!” I decided to create a primal challenge: to build a fire at sunset and keep it burning until sunrise.

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Inspiration & Hope

Moral Intuition and the Kindness of Strangers

She was dressed in a mink coat and oversized full fur Russian hat. Her Jimmy Choo boots and all black pantsuit seemed out of place in New York’s Penn Station. Plus, she was wheeling behind her an oversized Louis Vuitton travel bag. Even for New York she seemed too intense.

She might have been fifty years old, but her exact age was disguised, buried under impenetrable makeup and dark lipstick. She had style -- but lacked grace. She seemed to be on a mission -- somehow in a hurry to take a trip she didn’t want to take.

The escalator leading down to the train platform had a long line of passengers eager to board. Some with bags -- some with brief cases -- each looking to go home or get away.
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Brain and Behavior

Living in a Bigger Story

Out beyond the shadows of our old thinking, a wholly different world appears. A world that delights in our explorations, our need to join with others. A world that welcomes and supports our endeavors. The world knows how to change and grow. ~ Margaret J. Wheatley & Myron Kellner-Rogers, A Simpler Way
We love epic stories, those invoking the heroic journey. We resonate and identify with larger-than-life characters, not simply because we are fascinated with their exploits, but because we are drawn to the archetypal qualities they represent. And that allows us to tap into the inner resources we can discover in our own inner treasure chest:
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