Words of Wisdom

 

 

Wise Communication

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Interacting with those around us on a daily basis is automatic. To make talking simple, there are two choices we have. We can speak poison or life. Reality is, it’s our choice. This reality is sobering. It speaks to the truth that we make choices all day long. For those I care about, the choice carries great weight. Wise communicators will be intentional and cautious with what they say. Be conscious of this choice no matter the person you speak with.

You Are Being Watched

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

As a parent, have you ever felt as though your words have fallen on deaf ears? Even when our children do not seem to be listening to us or taking our advice—rest assured they are listening and watching. The words we speak and the tone of voice we use all matter. The memories of our words become imprinted on our children’s hearts. Our words have the power to encourage and discourage. We must choose our words carefully, wisely, and above all—lovingly.

Help Your Brain!

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

I recently saw a picture comparing two brain scans. One brain criticized daily and the other practiced gratitude daily. Long story short, the brain that criticized had holes in it. The brain that practiced gratitude was full and lively. It just felt better to look at that brain. What we think about determines what we become. What are you dwelling on today? Consider making it the things you're thankful for.

Honoring Choices

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

We have all been faced with situations where no matter what good is given, mean words and behaviors are returned. This type of individual seems invested in viewing good through the lens of suspicion. Just writing these words brings sadness of heart. Sadness in that they may not allow a life free of shame, cruelty, and fear. Honoring their choices may mean limiting oneself in contact with them. Honoring them may also mean ongoing compassion and kindness from a distance.

Competition/Comparison

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Competition and comparison can run rampant in your head. It is draining to sort out how to set yourself apart in a world full of people. The cure for this is to find out who you are specially made to be and get into alignment with it and your maker. It is a huge relief to do so.

A Word About Apologizing

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

Apologizing is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strong character. Sometimes apologizing — not only for what we have done but for how it has affected the other person — improves relationships. A person’s strength of character is best seen with how mistakes or transgressions are handled.

Relationship Wisdom

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

Relationships can be wonderful and they can be very difficult. When things are going well, be sure to take time to notice what's going well and the things you appreciate about the other person. That way, when it's difficult you'll have a store of positives to draw on. Gratitude and finding the good amidst the bad will help keep you from black and white thinking and help you both recover from stress and conflict sooner.

Choices

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Don't make decisions based on those who think the choice is a good one; base it on whether or not you will go against or for your conscience.

Forgiveness Means We Recognize Our Humanity

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

If you are human, you will be less than perfect. You will hurt those you say you love with some consistency. To insist otherwise is to elevate yourself and your ways above another AND this stance is filled with pride, self-centeredness, and results in a very judgmental attitude. No one wants to be in relationship with someone who believes they are ALWAYS right/better than the other. Two things make us all equal: the reality of our humanity/sin and the availability of God’s grace. Dare to recognize your humanity.

You First

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

Feeling overwhelmed? Overworked? Under appreciated? As schedules overflow, the first thing pushed aside is our self care. We make excuses for not exercising, eating poorly and being sleep deprived. While these seem to be solutions to our time crunch problem, our choices catch up with us, inevitably. Good self-care helps to prevent burnout, feelings of overwhelm, and actually helps us to be more productive. It gives us a chance to recharge, manage stress and gain a fresh perspective. So give yourself permission to make time for yourself and do something that is uplifting each day; go for a long walk, eat healthy and get some rest.

It's Summer!

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

It's summer! And with summer comes transition. More time outside. Maybe kids at home. Schedule changes. Vacations. All change whether positive or negative takes psychological energy. Be sure to take care of yourself and your loved ones during this period. Be patient and kind. Go slow. Don't pack your schedule - and give downtime before and after new things. And most of all, take time to be present and enjoy the season!

Can I Fix It?

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Are you one of those who believe if you work hard enough toward a personal problem you can fix it? Some research indicates, for example, 35% of marital issues will not change. (Gottman, et.al.) If in fact this research is true, the axiom: “let go and let God” makes sense. Ramming at a marriage or other problem (the same way) over and over and over again does not help, is hard on you, and is hard on those you care about.

Dirty Feet: Relationship Toxicty

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

I was sharing some family struggles with a dear friend. She quietly pointed out the relationship was toxic to me. When we hear “toxic”, we usually think of something outside of us. To overcome the relationship toxicity, I had to construct physical and emotional boundaries between me and the other person. Although I could not change the other person (no matter how much I wanted to), I could only change my response. As Mahatma Gandhi commented, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” We can consciously decide to not tolerate relationship toxicity.

If Only

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Phrases run through our minds that are a natural part of the grief process as well as a part of transitioning from one phase of life to another. One of those phrases begins with two words. “If only....” As natural as they are, lingering on these creates longings and behaviors not seen as healthy. Rehearsing the “If onlys” in our mind keeps us living in a fantasy world, lying to ourselves. Can “if onlys” be seen as a defense mechanism? Yes. However, without leaving this behind, we miss out on the blessings we have today. I much prefer celebrating the present than living in a fake world.

Real Freedom

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Real freedom is quoted by John Baker (founder of Celebrate Recovery) as being “..free to NOT do the things that keep us in bondage.” What keeps you in bondage metaphorically? Anxiety? Shame? Guilt? Pride? Dishonesty? I could go on and on. Real freedom is internal not external. We have to start somewhere. Start today, ask for help, stay honest, and walk in real freedom.

Navigating Relationships

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

All relationships with our loved ones give us high highs and low lows. And as with any bumpy ride having navigation help is a must. In our house we came up with this model: "Use words, Get space, Get help." If the first doesn't work, we move on to the next, and if that doesn't work, we move on to the one after that. This is a great way to help everyone we love, including us, feel heard, safe, and empowered.

You Are Loved

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

The very thing that you think disqualifies you from God is a gateway to Him…including a deep, deep understanding of how much you are loved…

Wisdom's Voice

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

We all know truth when we hear it. It’s the deep down inside voice that encourages us in the right direction. Reading about the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep, all the shepherd has to do is call or whistle for his sheep and they come running. I enjoy the picture as it reveals the dependence sheep have on their shepherds voice. My hope is we all develop a listening hear and quick response to wisdom's voice.

Being True to Who You Are

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

My grandmother was an easy person to be around. Those who knew her longer than I, said they never saw her depressed or anxious. I remember whenever we visited her, there would be a stream of guests. She had what we later called a “breakfast club” that consisted of friends and neighbors that would drop by for breakfast and conversation. She then branched out and had a “lunch club” also. My grandmother could easily express her opinions and listen to others. She was always authentic. Learning about who we truly are, our authentic self, is a process and it takes time to discover. Researchers from Harvard, Columbia and Northwestern collaborated to study authenticity. They found that when we behave in a way that goes against our true self, we tend to feel distraught and immoral; even when our behavior would not be defined as immoral. Furthermore, researchers discovered authentic people help others to be authentic. They are able to express their true feelings and opinions. Additionally, authentic people are able to listen to others without judgment. Perhaps that is why my grandmother was so easy to be around - you could be your true self; and express your own opinions without judgment.

Don't Panic!

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

Every day things happen and we respond. Sometimes they’re fun and positive and we feel good. Sometimes they’re dark and stressful and we feel down and under attack. When we encounter these things our bodies respond as if we are in danger. Our heart rates accelerate to above 90-100 beats per minute. This causes us to be in defense mode and we can’t think clearly. The best thing to do in this situation is to remember that “this is not an emergency” and to take at least five deep, belly breaths. We don’t have to react. We can get grounded and choose peace.

A Cup of Energy

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

We need energy to survive. It’s why we eat when needed. There is a need too for emotional/ spiritual energy. That’s why we need rest, prayer, laughter and down time. We can’t give from an empty cup.

All Things Used

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Part of the growth process is the reality that any event or circumstance can be used for our betterment or our demise. Simplistic as it sounds, it is true. A disagreement, a job change, a move, or even a loss can prove to better us or embitter us. It’s not easy but the wisdom we gain is worth the price.

The True Winner

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., CAPSW

The true winner of any conflict is not the one who speaks the loudest, makes the most points, but the one who takes the highest moral plane.

Being Kind

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

We all have anxiety, depression, and stress at one time or another in our lives. There are many things that can help alleviate these issues, one of which is self-compassion. When we are kind to ourselves it allows us to relax and to extend that kindness to others. When we can be kind to ourselves and others, it relieves the pressure of perfectionism. We no longer have to do everything right all the time and this therefore changes the things that we say to ourselves which contribute to our negative feelings. Find ways to say kind things and do kind things for yourself today and notice the difference.

Having An Argument?

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Find a way to step away from the heat of it for twenty minutes. Give your body, mind, and spirit a break. One cannot be rational when the fight or flight hormones kick in.

Saying No to Yourself

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Candidly, I love saying yes to myself; yes to what I want to do, be, have, and where I wish to go. This is certainly doable. However, it is not beneficial. When one chooses this path, it means a life without deprivation. The end result may be to live a very self-focused, lonely life. Saying no to yourself is less lonely and brings balance to relationships, finances, health, and spiritual life.

Courage... (stand up)

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

As a mother, I have tried to teach my girls to stand up for themselves and others when need be. Additionally, I have tried to teach them to listen before they react because they may not know everything about the situation. In the words of Winston Churchill, " Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."

Are You Breathing?

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

Take a moment to notice what's going on in your body. What's your heart doing? How's your breathing? Are you calm inside or agitated? Checking in with our body can give us important information about what's going on inside us physically and emotionally. When you notice a higher heart rate, shorter breathing, and maybe muscle tension or a nervous stomach, take some deep belly breaths to calm yourself. Deep breathing helps us regulate ourselves, which changes our heart rate and body response and enables our mind to work more clearly.

Relationship Indicators

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

There are many indicators of friendship or family relationships going bad. Here are a few: 1. The goodness is gone. 2. There is an abundance of criticism. 3. It is all about the other person. However, when things are not satisfactory in friendship or family, these same indicators in reverse offer hope: 1. The habit of goodness and prayer is coming back. 2. Criticism is being replaced with each person owning their part of difficulties and saying so. 3. People share interest and responsibility in and with each other. It’s always good to look in the mirror to see if you are cultivating the former or the latter. Invite Jesus in to exactly where you are with what you see.

Attitude of Gratitude

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Early January is the time of year most people determine their personal or professional goals for the year. Blame it on age, if you wish, but a goal this year is to develop an attitude where I see and express thankfulness for who/what is in my life. This shift alone makes managing life much, much easier.

Stay Connected

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

Over the holiday season, you may have had a chance to reconnect with family and friends. You may have promised “let’s get together again soon” or “let’s not wait a whole year.” Although it can be easy to allow busyness to interfere and another year to pass; may I encourage you to follow through, reach out and connect with those special family members and friends.

The Holidays are (almost) OVER!!

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

Whether this is a relief, a sadness, or bittersweet there is always a lot tied to this season. A lot of preparation, thought, emotion, get togethers, and parties. Now that it's over, take time to renew. Enjoy the positive memories, give grace to the negative, and rest in the present.

The Best Traits

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

When asked, college students have shared that the most wonderful people in their lives: "are generous, there when we have fallen, show a depth of kindness that inspires us, and laugh from a place of wisdom and peace." Most of us could share similar things about the people we trust and admire. Long lasting pleasure in life comes from living a life of meaning, compassion, and loving others despite our differences. Sounds like loving others as we love ourselves. Let us ask God to further develop these traits in ourselves.

The Fruit of Life

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Each fruit tree or bush has a particular DNA that reveals the fruit it provides. The same is true for people. The fruit of our lives will reveal our heart. What does the fruit of your life reveal about you?

A Simple Reminder

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

For years, clinical researchers have asserted that the psychological origin of anxiety is not FEELING connected to others. (As opposed to anxiety with a physiological origin) When in truth, we all have connections to God, family, friends, neighbors and coworkers whether we FEEL it or not. Sometimes a simple reminder to ourselves that we are connected to others in meaningful ways can lessen or alleviate our anxiety.

What You Say to Yourself Matters

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

The things we tell ourselves determine how we act and feel. For a few hours today notice what you tell yourself about yourself and about your life. If your thoughts are negative, you likely feel negative and then choose actions that support feeling negative. If you can balance and counter those thoughts with positive truths, then your actions and feelings can change, too, which will reinforce positive thoughts. The things we tell ourselves are so important! So, tell yourself many true positive things today and notice how your outlook changes.

The Problem With a Grudge

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Forgiveness unlocks the jail door that keeps relationships stuck. The problem with a grudge is, the person holding it does not tell the so-called offending person they are holding it. It’s a secret sentence. The opportunity for a forgiving exchange is not there. People who move on with one another, grudge or no grudge, move on in the following way: They believe that all people commit actions that require an apology: everyone does something wrong with each other from time to time. Successful “movers on” in relationships conclude that, in the end, the hurts from you should even out with the hurts directed toward you. It’s helpful to get an apology, but the wise person doesn’t sit there and wait for one to come without sharing the hurt. Assume the best. Open the jail door if you hold a grudge (because you are in the cell,) invite a dialogue if you are the holder of a grudge, or as a possible recipient of a grudge; believe until proven otherwise that no grudges have been assigned.

People of Conviction

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Convictions are born out of what we come to know as truth about life, ourselves, and others. Some may think we are crazy to hold fast to our beliefs and values. Despite the varied views abroad, trust what you have learned is true. Dare to be a person of conviction.

Close Enough

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

My father was a highly educated and accomplished man, particularly for his generation. Even so, there were no airs about him. He was very down to earth, friendly to everyone and easy to be around. One of the traits that made him so easy to be around was that he was not a perfectionist. My father did not require himself or others to be flawless. He easily laughed at his own mistakes, and was fond of saying, “close enough.” If we could all accept imperfections in ourselves and others, we would learn to complain less and laugh more. After all, it does not need to be perfect, it just needs to be “close enough.”

A Good Story!

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

We all came from somewhere and we're all headed in some direction. We all have a story and our stories determine who we are. Be courageous and own your story instead of hiding from it. Engage the pain, experience the joy, and use these things to become a well-developed character. After all, nobody likes a story with boring characters.

Take A Moment: PLEASE

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Moms are made to nurture. Often in the red zone of busy, moms really don’t care about stress reduction. Even in the most insane day, lots can be done to lower stress and it’s good to lower it for those you nurture and their nurturer; you. Repeat to an overflowing, even obnoxious to you degree, truth about you: *You are loved by God *God’s thoughts toward you are good and not evil *You are precious to God *Cast all of your cares upon Him. He cares for you.... Breathe, really breathe.

Keeping Secrets

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

We all like knowing we are well thought of. A good reputation is built over time and maintained by continuing the same work that got us there. Revealing another person’s secret to a third party (without permission) is a sure way to undermine the very foundation you have worked hard to have. Learn to keep another’s confidence and in so doing, build a good reputation.

Something Different

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., CAPSW

We all have habits and patterns, including how we interact with others. We even get into patterns of acting and reacting to one another, especially with those close to us. The closer someone is, the more patterns of interaction there are. Simply put, when the patterns are unhealthy, we need to change how we respond in order for the patterns to change. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

Choose to Live and Love

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

Overload. Embarrassment. Betrayal. Rejection. Loss. Inadequacy. These, among many others, work to keep us disconnected. Hidden. Alone. For as painful as these things are it makes sense that we often desire to hide, to remain disconnected from our world, ourselves, and the others in our lives. But, there are also beauty, laughter, joy, kindness, courage, and the many other things that bring us life and freedom. The reality is, life on this earth hurts. But, there are different kinds of pain. There's the pain of being stuck and hidden away and there's the pain of growth and risk. I don't know about you, but I'm choosing love and life and joy as my act of defiance against all that's evil and cold in our world. I hope you'll join me!

You'll Not Know It, But I'll Get You Back

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Masking angry feelings, a loved one can act them out in deliberate, but hidden ways. The child who is angry at his mother but fears expressing himself directly may pretend not to hear her when she calls him for dinner or may choose to complete his chores in an intentionally incorrect way that he knows will infuriate her. In these ways, the child gets his mother to act out the feelings that he had been holding inside. Adults can, in similar but perhaps more “grown-up” ways, get revenge.

Building Confidence

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Encourage your child to think about what their thoughts are on any given topic. Take time to validate what is true without demeaning them for what may not be true. Elementary children are literal, black-and-white thinkers so validating them helps them know when they are on the right track. Gentle redirection creates an atmosphere where they trust the attitude or behavior you are describing. Gentle feedback creates the confidence you wish for them to have.

Restlessness!

Carrissa Pannuzzo, M.A., LMFT-T, LPC-T

That mental, emotional, and physical sensation of not being settled. Maybe life is up in the air or it's been stagnant for too long. The best remedy is to take time to reconnect with oneself. Get some space to reflect and ponder what's important to you and whether your days are spent supporting your passions and values. If they're not, make a change today. Even the perspective difference will give a settled feeling and begin the journey toward peace.

I'll Get You Back

Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC

“Man’s anger does not produce what God wants.” (James 1:20) Have you ever sat back and watched someone “go off the rails” with anger? If it is aimed at you and you know you don’t deserve it (not that “deserves it” is tenable) you may watch in disbelief. After the shock wears off, you have at least two choices: Get even, or get before God. Ask God to help you do the latter. The fruit of waiting in Him is worth it on every level.

Look Beyond

Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

There is tremendous value in looking beyond what people say and do to the possible condition of their heart. Despite my life’s work of providing counseling, like anyone, this is a tough shift both in our thinking and acting. One fact that IS real is when successfully looking beyond the words to the heart, compassion rises to the surface making it easier to let go of offenses.

Something So Simple...Yet Challenging

Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW

An essential ingredient for a healthy marriage is being willing to work at it and to refuse to allow bitterness to take root.

Wisdom