Three Vital Stages of Spiritual Growth for Women

Just as there are identifiable stages of physical growth, there are likewise stages of spiritual growth that Christians must pass through. Using the book “Lies Women Believe, and the Truth that Sets Them Free” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss as a template, this article explores the stages of spiritual growth that women pass through on their way to spiritual maturity.

Stage One: Seeing the Consequences of Eve’s Sin

We can only imagine the flood of thoughts that raced through Eve’s mind when she was kicked out of Eden with her husband, Adam. Looking at the desolate land they now stood in, it is likely she regretted her earlier decisions.

It was only that morning that she had been leading a perfectly harmonious life yet now everything had fallen apart. Eve experienced firsthand the reality of failure, defeat, and isolation, feelings that women from all walks of life relate to.

Ms. DeMoss describes today’s Christian women as being in bondage, “They are not free to enjoy the grace and the love of God.” This lack of freedom has resulted from regret over bad decisions made in the past or bad things they have experienced. Bondage also takes the form of “fear of man” and the need for to be approved of by others.

We need to remember that the Bible tells that we have been set free. Bondage has no hold over us, we are supposed to be joyful, radiant, full of peace and a whole lot more

Unfortunately, women are not experiencing this freedom and the root cause is that we have believed lies that we have been told our whole lives.

These lies started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent lied to our First Mother, Eve and the web of lies in all its forms was passed down to every generation after her.

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins. – James 5:19-20

We can trace all the problems in the world back to that first deception, the consequences of believing an untruth. It is time to reclaim our lives!

Stage Two: Seeing the Lies for What They Are

Ms. DeMoss lists eight lies that have been told and although the list is not exhaustive and not every woman wrestles with each of them, these are the most common eight.

Lie #1 – God: Are there lies about God that you have believed? A common question heard during counseling is, “If God is a good God why did ___________ happen to me or someone I love?”

The Devil asked Eve a similar question. He created doubt in her mind in her mind, diverting her attention (and our own) from the abundant blessings she was already enjoying. This doubt causes us to justify holding what God says up to our own ideas of what is right and wrong.

Psalm 119:68 reminds us “God is good, and everything He does is good.” In spite of our knowledge of this Scripture, we often doubt God’s love for us. This is especially true when God does not answer our prayers as we think he should, or the answers are delayed. The doubt magnifies until it becomes bondage.

Our misconceptions about God lead us to compare Him to the men in our lives. We expect him to fix all of our problems and even consider him unresponsive, inadequate and far too restrictive. If any of these lies sound familiar, then you should study DeMoss’s book in-depth. Our view of God is key to the way we live our lives.

Lie #2 – Self: We often believe that our poor understanding of God is reflected in His understanding of us. Ms. DeMoss writes, “If we do not see Him as He really is – if we believe things about Him that are not true – invariably, we will have a distorted view of ourselves.”

When we view God as unable or weak it further affirms the various lies we have believed. We consider ourselves to be worthless. DeMoss reports that 42 percent of the women surveyed in preparing to write the book reported that they believed this lie. These lies started in our childhood and continued into adulthood, lies that have resulted in bondage and even caused mental health afflictions.

Jesus is acquainted with our sorrows, he understands our pain. 1 Peter 2:4 tells us that Jesus was “rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him.” Jesus knew who he belonged to and how much the Father loved him. It is because of the love that flowed from the Father to him, that Jesus laid down his life for us – truly amazing love!

Other lies in this section of the book include the lie of needing to love ourselves, the lie that we cannot change the way we are, the lie that we are entitled, the lie that physical beauty is more important than beauty on the inside, and the lie and all of our longings should be fulfilled.

Every chapter includes specific Scripture passages that provide truth to help fight against the lies. There are also questions for reflection to help you think about whether these lies have a foothold in your own life.

Lie #3 – Sin: Because we live in a fallen world sin continues to be an inevitable part of our lives. As Christians, we know that Christ died for our sins but there are some lies that we have believed about sin.

Part of Satan’s lie to Eve was to deny the consequences of sin. God had expressly told Adam and Eve that the day they would eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they would die but Satan countered this by saying, “Did God really say?” he (Satan) went on to add “you will surely not die”

The book spends quality time on this particular lie, expanding it to cover lies such as my sins aren’t really that bad, my sin is beyond forgiveness, my actions and reactions aren’t my fault, and overcoming over sin is a myth.

In order to combat these lies, we must: 1. Align our thinking with God’s; 2. Take full responsibility; 3. Believe what is true; 4. Do what is true; and 5. Pray for help.

DeMoss concludes by addressing five other lies that relate to our priorities in life, marriage, children, our emotions, and our present circumstances. Like the other chapters, these end by dealing with specific lies, and the Truth of Scripture.

Each chapter concludes with a written prayer to help you seek God’s help in finding the truth. Our goal is to ultimately live free of Satan’s lies!

Stage Three: Walking in the Truth

The two big ideas in this book are: 1) Believing Satan’s lies enslave us, and 2) God’s truth has can free us. As we mature in our Christian walk and pursue intimacy with Christ, the yoke of lies begins to slip off.

As a final step, DeMoss takes us through a series of Bible verses that deal with bondage. We will keep the review of this section light because you should study these steps prayerfully. Galatians 6:2 tells us as believers to help carry each other’s burdens, Christian Counseling San Diego can be a good option for help if you find yourself believing a lie or need help breaking some sort of bondage.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

 

Photos
“Fruit of the Tree,” Courtesy of Georgia de Lotz, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Snake,” Courtesy of David Clode, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Light from Heaven,” Courtesy of Dawid Sobolewski, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Death,” Courtesy of Anton Darius Thesollers, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse and What to Do About it

Not only is sexual abuse traumatic for victims, but for parents, educators, and caregivers sexual abuse is their worst nightmare. Knowing that sexual perpetrators live in your neighborhood could, and should, be an eye-opener to any parent.

Taking advantage of the public records of local law enforcement is a good place to start to locate sexual perpetrators that live in your area. Below is a list of other characteristics of a sexual perpetrator, their behavior, and the victims of sexual abuse.

The Profile of a Sexual Offender

Sexual perpetrators come from all walks of life. In fact, they can look like anyone. They can be of young age or old, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and rich or poor. Inappropriate sexual behavior can be seen in children as young as eight.

Sex offenders identified as having a high risk of offense, or Level 3, can be children as young as ten. It is imperative to teach a child that if they ever sense something is wrong, regardless of how old the person, they should pay attention to their instincts and immediately cease contact with that person.

Childhood Sexual Abuse: Know the Signs

It is important to pay attention to patterns in a child’s behavior to identify the presence of sexual abuse. Behavioral changes can often be attributed to sexual abuse. Children who have suffered from abuse will often manifest combinations of any of the following symptoms:

Becoming reserved and unnaturally quiet

If your child is normally chatty, and suddenly turns reserved, it is time to take notice of the reason for this change.

Heightened fear and apprehension

Among the most obvious signs that a child has been abused is fear. They can gradually become hyper-vigilant, continually on the alert for threats. As evening and the time for bed, this fear normally intensifies.

Victims of sexual abuse can be hyper-focused on making sure they feel safe and protected. They may possibly sleep with their backs to the door, or insist on checking to make sure that everything is locked up tight. They may also sleep with some sort of weapon next to them or under their pillow to defend themselves if necessary.

PTSD symptoms

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was first identified by professionals when war veterans returning from combat were undergoing overwhelming fear, panic, anxiety, and stress related to the trauma of combat. Abused children often display these exact symptoms and disturbances.

Heightened sensations of panic, anxiety, and stress are a few of the symptoms that victims of abuse can experience after the trauma occurs from various stimuli, caused by emotional “triggers”. Triggers include (but are not limited to) such things as sights, smells, movies, and songs, or people who resemble, behave like or remind them in some way of the offender.

Bad sleep, nightmares, flashbacks, and continual memories of the assault

Related to the above symptom, abused children will often have interrupted sleep or difficulty sleeping. Difficulty falling asleep and/or remaining asleep can leave them overly tired the following day. Bad dreams and fear of the dark are also common in those abused.

Flashbacks involving strong memories of the abuse can occur unexpectedly. The sexual assault can overwhelm their thoughts, making it hard to focus while at school or to feel motivated to do school work. These reoccurring thoughts can make it tough to think of anything else besides the abuse.

Depression

Children who have been the victims of sexual abuse can often show symptoms of depression. Additionally, they are (depending on the severity, frequency, and duration) more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and to make actual attempts at suicide.

Possible signs of abuse in teenagers and even older adolescents include wearing dark clothing, experimenting with cutting (and other forms of self-harm), and excessive amounts of piercings or tattoos.

Tearfulness, crying, detachment, or apathy

It is common for children who have endured trauma to be characterized by excessive crying and being easily moved to tears. Should the abuse continue for a long period of time, as the victim gets older they can develop the opposite of this behavior. Behaviors and attitudes can become more calloused and hardened.

Sexual abuse can make children appear to be emotionally deadened because the struggle with the unwanted sexual actions can simply hurt them too much emotionally. Children may detach emotionally as if someone else had experienced the abuse rather than them. This can lead to dissociative disorders developing later in life.

Aggravated aggression, hostility, and agitation

The abused child sees the world as an inherently hostile place. Lack of trust and frustration can lead the victim to develop explosive anger over the simplest things. Thoughts that others are intent on harming them, can leave the victim suspicious of everyone that they meet.

Because most sexual offenders are male, it’s common for victims of sexual abuse to react to most males with distrust and dislike. If both parents are still together in the home, the victim may become increasingly hostile or aggressive even to the non-abusive parent.

Children of abuse will develop grudges and sometimes hatred towards the non-abusing parent and other non-abusing caregivers out of the subconscious feeling that those individuals did not protect them from the sexual abuse. They may engage in fights, they may hit things, destroy others’ property, yell, and get into heated arguments.

Guilt, shame, hurt

These sorts of feelings are normal for child victims of sexual abuse. They will often blame themselves for the sexual abuse and develop guilt and shame that is misplaced or inappropriate. Often these feelings will be instilled in them by the perpetrator, telling them that they bear responsibility for the perpetrator’s actions.

It can even happen that the perpetrator will blackmail the abused, threatening to hurt or tell someone important to them if they do not continue to be compliant. The perpetrator may try to rationalize the abuse and claim that the abused even enjoyed the actions they were subjected to, or even that it was the abused child’s idea.

In these situations, child victims may blame themselves for everything and for everyone else’s behavior.

Persistent enuresis and/or encopresis

Enuresis and encopresis are the inability to control urination or bowel movements. Bed-wetting or defecating in the bed (that are not related to normal potty-training issues) is seen in children (even among those who are teens) who either are currently, or have been abused sexually.

However, these aren’t sure signs, and one should not automatically assume that they indicated that a child is a sexual abuse victim. However, if seen in older children who are beyond the normal potty-training years that are experiencing this issue, a further medical inquiry is warranted.

Genital or anal pain or trouble swallowing

This sign should raise huge red flags, especially in the cases of young children, because it is a potential indicator of a recent abuse. If it is unexplained, a medical investigation is highly recommended.

Fear of closeness and intimacy

Children who have experienced abuse normally find it difficult to develop intimate relationships. Though they might be very extroverted, likable, friendly, and a lot of fun, they tend to be withdrawn emotionally and maintain a distance from others.

The child may think that doing so prevents them from coming to any future harm. Also, children that have experienced sexual abuse often struggle to accept intimacy or physical contact. Their dislike of such contact may lead them to divert attempts at affection or react strongly to innocent touch.

Excessive and irrational pursuit of touching, intimacy, or hugging

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the victim can be extremely clingy and crave physical affection. These kinds of victims display a poor understanding of both social and physical boundaries, struggling to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate physical displays of affection.

They might wrongly assume that anyone offering them any kind of physical affection (event the appropriate kind) is really expressing romantic love to them, and so they may respond in turn with types of touch that are inappropriate.

Aversion to sex or sexual promiscuity

These two extremes are commonly seen in children and adults that are victims of sexual abuse. Teenage girls that have a history of sexual abuse are more prone to impulsive sexual encounters with males. The strong need for physical attention brings them to such encounters as a means of satisfying their need for affection in the only way that they know how.

In one study, more than half of women in the sex trade reported having experienced sexual abuse as a child. The opposite is often true, especially in males with a history of sexual abuse. These men may be repulsed by the idea of sex or any kind of physical affection. This struggle within males tends to lead to marital conflicts where sex and affection are desired by their spouse.

Sexual acting out

History of sexual abuse can surface in preschool children as they struggle with the social skills required for early development. It is very common to see inappropriate boundaries with others and substandard social skills with regard to inappropriate public behavior (i.e. exposing their bottom, touching a friend’s privates, etc.). Boys with a history of sexual abuse are noted to have higher displays of inappropriate sexual displays than girls.

Also, children that have been abused can display forward and even aggressive behavior with regard to sex. These children struggle with thoughts and actions motivated by power, control, and dominance over their victim, which can follow them into adulthood. Sexual acting out toward others, wherever noticed, requires immediate, careful investigation, confrontation, and correction.

Acting much older or younger

Children with a history of abuse may struggle with displaying social skills that are age-appropriate. They may have difficulties relating to other children their own age or they may socialize with or befriend much younger children.

They may behave in a way that is less mature than other kids their age. Older adolescents may still display an attachment to “blankies” or stuffed animals. Some teenagers may continue to suck their thumbs.

However, the opposite types of behavior may also be seen, in which victims act much older than their age, relate better to adults, and even carry on adult conversations. Girls even as young as six may try to dress like adult women (doing their nails, wearing makeup, etc.).

Advanced knowledge of sex

It is not difficult to imagine that a child of abuse can have considerable and precise knowledge about sex that is greater than that of their peers. If your child is of young and discloses to you that a peer has exact knowledge of sexual acts, it is time to intervene.

Disturbing types of play

In young victims of abuse, conflicts that they have experienced may be acted out in the form of play. If you notice a 5-year-old girl playing Barbie in such a way that Barbie and Ken are being inappropriate, it is time to notify the necessary professionals and to investigate the situation.

Disturbing types of creativity

You will often see the ups and downs of children’s daily lives being expressed in the art that they create, such as in paintings or drawings. These sources of mental revelation are viewed as useful by therapists when counseling possible sexual abuse. As an adult, you should pay attention to:

  • Drawings, paintings, and sculptures

These creations may carry dark, aggressive, or disturbing themes

  • Stories, songs, poems, social media, or journal entries

Older children, adolescents, and teens may write stories or poems, or compose songs that either refer to or clearly tell about what they have struggled with since the abuse. Social media accounts are a popular outlet for teenagers today in which to express their internal struggles in an attempt to seek help from someone that they can trust. Leaving these things where they can be found may not always be accidental.

  • Disproportionately coarse sexualized language

The state of today’s culture makes this sign difficult to really identify. Children from the inner-city grow up in a culture that is radically different from those who grow up in, for example, an upper-class suburb. However, if your 5-year-old swears like a drunken sailor or uses language that indicates that he has been exposed to pornography, this should send up red flags.

Dramatic changes in appetite

Children and teenagers that have experienced sexual abuse can also struggle with their relationship to food. They may eat either too little or too much. It is possible for children who have been sexually abused to develop an eating disorder in response.

Behaviors such as starving themselves or binge eating and purging can be a result of distorted body image. On the other hand, they may eat too much as a way of coping with difficult emotions.

Issues of power and control

Kids who are the victims of sexual abuse commonly have issues related to both power and also to control. Since sexual abuse can leave a person feeling powerless and afraid, they may display an over-compliance with the other peoples’ demands, they may be non-assertive, and they may always try to put other people’s wants before their own. However, it’s also quite common for child sexual abuse victims to relentlessly fight for control and to argue with others frequently.

Evasiveness, dropping hints, seeking attention

Attention-seeking behaviors are quite common in older kids that have experienced sexual abuse. They may hint at previous abuse to friends or other adults with whom they have a strong relationship in order to test the waters before fully disclosing the abuse.

They want to be seen and noticed, but they can instantly flip the switch and turn evasive, elusive, and completely shut down. They can display secretive and/or manipulative in order to hold on to even a scrap of power or control in their lives, which they see as out of control.

Hygiene problems

Hygiene issues in children are another clue that, when taken with respect to the symptoms listed above, can hint at a history of sexual abuse. If a child is wearing clothes that are dirty, or their appearance is unkempt, or they constantly smell, this could be a personal preference.

However, children or teenagers dealing with sexual abuse may use this coping mechanism as a way to prevent themselves from being seen as desirable by the perpetrator, thus making them feel safe from the abuse.

Excessive socializing with a much older friend

Children having older friends is not always a sign of sexual abuse. However, it is important to note your child’s social interactions with older peers in person and online.

Although there are relationships with older friends or adults that can be innocent and positive for the growth of a child, they may not always be innocent. Whoever you are, you should remain vigilant and carefully assess whomever the children in your life are friends with, in order to prevent them being subjected to sexual abuse.

Receiving gifts, money, and/or possessing pornography

Perpetrators of abuse may use such items to lure their victims into engaging in sexual acts with them. Children may not understand what may be happening to them and be influenced by the tactics of the abuser such that they come to believe that these kinds of activity are normal.

Abusers hook their victims with pornography in order to make these sorts of sexual relations seem normal. They may even hope to get them addicted to the lifestyle.

Running away

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that nearly 50% of runaway or homeless youth claim to have been abused sexually.

Gender rejection or confusion

Struggles with sexual identity confusion or rejection are products of sexual abuse that are not mentioned as frequently as the ones described above. However, it is not unheard of for young victims of sexual abuse be confused about their sexual identity.

Sexually abused girls may think of themselves as ugly, damaged or ruined. Sometimes they may see their beauty as something that has led to the abuse and may begin to view physical beauty as more of a curse.

As a result, they may cut their hair short, dye it unnatural colors, and begin to dress in unflattering or socially unacceptable ways. Also, they may see begin to resent their female identity as something that is threatening or weak, so they begin to adopt male qualities and behaviors.

Sexually abuse males, however, may start to question their manhood. Confusing (perhaps even pleasurable) physiological reactions during the abuse, they may wonder if they are homosexual. The way in which childhood sexual abuse affects the evolution of same-sex attraction has been noted by many.

In a study by the National Institutes of Health on sexual behavior, Roberts, Glymour, and Koenen (2013) found that there is a positive correlation between childhood sexual abuse and adult same-sex attractions. Homosexuals reported 1.6 to 4 times more occurrences of childhood physical and sexual abuse over that of heterosexuals.

If you notice any of these signs in any of the children in your life – report it immediately!. Call your local CPS Office or the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

References

Andrea L. Roberts, M. Maria Glymour, and Karestan C. Koenen. Does Maltreatment in Childhood Affect Sexual Orientation in Adulthood? Arch Sex Behav. 2013 Feb; 42(2): 161–171. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3535560/.

Photos
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Dealing with Grief After the Loss of Your Spouse

Experiencing the trauma of losing a spouse is one of the deepest griefs known to humankind. The bereaved spouse is left in a world that seems familiar but is devastated by a loss that impacts every other aspect of life. In dealing with grief after the loss of a spouse, it’s helpful to understand the grieving process and all its components.

Acknowledging the Loss When Dealing with Grief

The most common first reaction to losing one’s spouse or other loved one is denial. It seems impossible that this person is gone, never to come back. Eventually, reality sinks in and the grieving person’s mind accepts the truth of their loved one’s death.

Their emotions also become accustomed to the loss and they lose their instinctive impulse to speak or reach to their loved one.

Instead, those impulses become reminders of grief. It’s common for a bereaved person to think they caught a glimpse of their loved one in a public setting when they were really just reminded by someone who resembled them. This glimpse of a seemingly familiar face triggers a moment of hope that the loved one isn’t really gone.

The Need to Feel & Express Grief

It’s essential to fully feel the devastation of the loss, allowing the painful emotions to be experienced and expressed. Overwhelming sadness in response to loss is painful yet necessary.

Experiencing all of this grief and pain is the foundation for moving forward in the grieving process. Every aspect of the loss will impact the grieving spouse in a specific way, from a sense of loneliness and isolation, even to feelings of anger or resentment at the deceased spouse, and frequently, anxiety, regret, despair, guilt, or depression. Any areas of the relationship that were difficult or unresolved before death can trigger these negative emotions.

Feeling Pain, Finding Hope: The Comfort of the Cross

According to a Christian worldview, death is an unnatural interruption in our original destiny, which is to live eternally with the Lord. Because of sin and the fall, death became a part of our human experience. Not only will every one of us die eventually, but we will all experience the loss of loved ones. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, and his resurrection where he conquered death, we can have hope beyond this life and know that there is a future beyond the grave.

Christian Counseling for Those Who Grieve

It’s crucial for a widow or widower to have a solid support system to help them as they’re dealing with grief, including family, friends, and church relationships.

Unfortunately, sometimes it is hard for support people to understand why the those dealing with grief have not adjusted better once several months have passed since the loss.

It’s impossible for those outside the relationship to understand the depths of grief the bereaved spouse is experiencing. This means that the support may lessen just as the initial crisis has passed and the bereaved spouse needs more encouragement and fellowship instead of less.

Photos
“Too Young to Feel this Old,” courtesy of Dee Ashley, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)
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Dealing with a Fear of Abandonment: Symptoms and Solutions

Fear of abandonment is a primal universal fear, as humans were born to be socially connected to one another. At the very start of life, infants are already hardwired to attach to their primary caregivers. The survival of a young infant or even toddler depends entirely on them. If basic needs are not met, then a high level of anxiety is created.

Moreover, should something happen to the caregivers or should the caregivers’ attitudes suddenly change, the child is then no longer able to feel the care as before, causing even more trauma. If this loss (e.g. – the death of a parent, divorce) or change in attitude (e.g. – abuse) is permanent, then the child internalizes the fear of abandonment.

Everyone experiences some form of abandonment, but not everyone’s experience is severe. However, for those who underwent something traumatic, the personal impact can really cripple their life. Without proper treatment, abandonment wounds can severely affect the way a person is able to function. It cripples the way they handle interpersonal relationships and personal joy is sapped.

Fear of Abandonment: Common Causes

Abandonment issues are intense fears of losing someone close to you. They originate from past experiences that left you alone or uncared for. In that past experience, you were made to fend for yourself, developing a distrust of others and a sense of self-pity for not being loved.

Those who have been abandoned feel cut off from what Susan Anderson, an abandonment research expert, calls “life-sustaining support.” She believes it is a “cumulative wound,” meaning that all the negative events of your childhood up to the present are collected and reignited when triggered.

The causes of this are many. The primary ones are connected to problematic parenting, such as:

  • Children who felt deserted because of death, divorce, or being left in the hands of others (e.g. foster care, raised by relatives, even daycare);
  • Children who felt discarded due to physical, emotional or sexual abuse;
  • Children who felt neglected as basic needs were not met for some reason.

There are, however, other forms which are less recognizable but still very impactful, for instance:

  • Children who could not connect to parents who had a mental illness or had addictions;
  • Children who had doubts due to caregivers’ unavailability due to prolonged absences (e.g. out of town trips) or late nights at work;
  • Children who felt ignored as they were left to solve issues on their own without guidance;
  • Children who felt imperfect due to relentless teasing by siblings or other relatives;
  • Children, particularly teens, who felt insecure due to constant criticism;
  • Children who felt isolated due to chronic illnesses or disabilities;
  • Teenagers who felt rejected due to peer rejection, a romantic break-up, or prolonged singleness.

Fear of Abandonment: Common Symptoms

As there are several possible causes of abandonment, here are seven common symptoms of abandonment issues to look out for in yourself or people you know and love.

1. Chronic Insecurities

Abandonment destroys the self-esteem. Though it is not their fault, they often believe it is, thinking that there must be something within that makes them unlovable and worthless. Children are egocentric thinkers and are particularly vulnerable to believing such things, so they grow up thinking that they are not worth respecting and they have this inescapable feeling that if things go wrong in a relationship, romantic or otherwise, that they are to blame.

2. Reenacting Trauma

An unfortunate result of childhood abandonment is the possibility of experiencing the same thing in adulthood. Deep inside there is a core belief that, “I will always be abandoned.”

Reenactment is a subconscious effort to resolve trauma. Because of this, suchpersons subconsciously place themselves in situations where abandonment may occur again. They are usually attracted to the “wrong” people despite clear advice from friends against the idea. Such “wrong” people are often reckless, noncommittal, or unavailable so eventually, the relationship stops working.

In other cases, former victims are the ones driving others away by being overly cautious, standoffish, or extremely clingy. Moreover, they may be projecting their insecurities onto their loved one, saying to them, “You will leave me. You do not truly love me.” As they fear being abandoned, they may not want any commitments; they may wish to ensure that those they love cannot escape them, or they are preparing themselves for another loss.

3. Pervasive Unworthiness

Those who have been abandoned experience the raw emotional pain of feeling worthless. They feel undesired and unlovable. Imagining a good life is next to impossible as they do not believe they deserve such.

This unworthiness extends even to their judgments and actions. As they believe that they are not good enough, should anything go wrong, they blame themselves first.

4. Heightened Emotional Sensitivity

The trauma of abandonment affects the brain. They have become extremely emotional to anything that triggers rejection such as criticism, disagreement, exclusion, neglect, or ridicule. Once triggered, they may experience emotional hijacking (a term coined by David Goleman), where the emotional part of the brain takes over the rational side. When this occurs, the person is overpowered by emotions.

5. Distrust

Being rejected by a loved one makes a person feel helpless. Because of this, they grow up realizing that they cannot truly depend upon the people around them since they were hurt already in the past.

To cope with this, those with abandonment wounds may choose to become self-sufficient since they doubt the ability of others to care for them. They may decide to do things themselves and keep others from becoming too close. Such people may portray an aura of toughness and are vigilant and even suspicious of others’ motives.

6. Mood Swings

Abandonment brings about much depression and anxiety. Oftentimes to protect their inner self, victims try to detach themselves from the people and world around them. This, however, causes them to feel empty, lost and alone. Paranoia of loved ones leaving them is another result.

Thus, some become very obsessive and jealous. Anger arises when people are too busy and sometimes this busyness is linked to thoughts of that loved one being with someone else. These people are generally defensive, disconnected, and feel misunderstood.

7. Self-Sabotaging Relationships

This fear of abandonment greatly affects relationships in adulthood as they do not really know what they want or how to achieve it. They desperately cling to people as they are afraid to be left behind and yet they are also afraid to get too close as intimacy scares them.

Intimacy dodgers fear being controlled and then discarded by another. They do not want their heart to be crushed again. Others, however, cannot handle the intimacy. So even if they have found real love, they decide to leave first. In this way, they cannot be fully rejected.

In the end, their life becomes a vicious cycle of love and abandonment.

Christian Counseling for Abandonment Issues

Fear of abandonment can ruin a person’s life, as social connections are either abusive or cut short because of insecurities and anxiety. The good news, however, is that there are ways to overcome it.

If you or a loved one has experienced abandonment, then a Christian counselor San Diego can help to overcome the past, learn to trust again, and accept the truth that you are a wonderful person created by an all-loving God.

Photos
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10 Types of Trauma You Might Not Think About

When you think about types of trauma, it’s possible that only a handful of extreme situations might come to mind.

The fact is, everyone experiences trauma in their life in one form or another. Life is inherently uncertain, and you never know what is around the corner. That being said, some have experienced a much greater level of trauma than others. While one person may have been traumatized by an incident of childhood bullying, another person may have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse.

Post-traumatic symptoms can develop following a high-stress and deeply disturbing incident, and this sometimes occurs years later. Though you might have recovered physically from a car crash, for example, you may still find yourself haunted by thoughts that you “could easily have died.”

Ten Common Types of Trauma

In an effort to develop our understanding of trauma, it is worth taking a closer look at ten of the most common types of trauma.

1. Sexual Assault or Abuse

Defined as any type of sexual behavior toward someone that is either unwanted or involuntary, it includes, but cannot be limited to: inappropriate sexual joking, genital contact, fondling, groping, penetration, forced kissing, or exposure to material that is sexually inappropriate. For example, a mother who exposes herself to her adolescent sons, or exposes them to sexually explicit material.

This type of assault or abuse also may include undesired sexual activity between children or internet exploitation. It can also include the sexual exploitation of a minor for sexual gratification by an adult – such as in child pornography or prostitution.

2. Physical Assault or Abuse

Physical assault or abuse constitutes any inflicting of physical harm on someone (beatings, stabbings, shootings, etc.). This includes situations where adults inflict physical harm on children or even when groups of kids attack another child. However, it excludes appropriate spanking, typical sibling rough-housing, and rough play between children or adults of a equivalent age.

3. Emotional Abuse

This may be defined as verbal abuse in the form of insults, violent threats, controlling behavior, bullying, or terrorizing behavior. It may include extreme demands put upon an individual, behavior intended to make a person believe they are going crazy, or forms of emotional neglect that are designed to create a fear of abandonment in the victim (behavior such as shunning or the silent treatment).

4. Neglect

Neglect is defined as failing to provide a person with the care they need. This may be seen in a failure to provide the basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing, or proper medical care.

Though neglect is typically reported to child protective services, it can actually occur with people of all ages. This failure to provide for a person’s needs when the caregiver is fully able to provide it is termed neglect.

5. Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is usually defined as any actual, perceived, or threatened physical or sexual violence, or emotional abuse between adults who are involved in a close or intimate relationship. It can also include any witnesses to incidents of domestic violence and are incapable of intervention. This may include children who are living with parents who are abusive toward each other.

6. Serious Accidents or Illness

These may include traumatic incidents such as automobile accidents, building fires, or severe injury. In the aftermath of such events, the victim may feel extremely emotional. Painful or frightening medical procedures are included under this heading, and children, in particular, may be afraid to undergo such treatments.

7. War-related Trauma

“Post-traumatic stress disorder,” or PTSD has entered the common vocabulary through America’s military endeavors. PTSD can result when someone returns from a combat zone in which they experienced a threat to their life or the injury or death of a fellow soldier. Those who are living in war zones may also experience this type of post-traumatic reaction.

Firefights, executions, and forced displacement are only a few of a number of traumatic experiences commonly endured by refugees who were living in a war zone and have been forced to flee as a result of the violence.

8. Natural or Manmade Disasters

Disasters that are either natural or manmade fall into this category, and may include such things as building fires, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, or tornadoes, or any other disaster caused either by nature or man.

9. School Violence

School violence has become more prevalent than ever before. It is not uncommon to turn on the news and see that another student has entered their school campus with the goal of killing or otherwise harming other people. These events are highly traumatic for the students involved and may even cause anxiety for those at other schools.

10. Bullying and Workplace Mobbing

When we think of bullying, our minds usually turn to the schoolyard. But this isn’t the only place where such behavior occurs. “Workplace mobbing” can happen in a professional environment and is often described as “bullying on steroids.”

The bully recruits co-workers to “collude in a relentless campaign of psychological terror against a hapless target” (Bullying at Work: Workplace Mobbing is on the Rise by Sophie Henshaw). The targets of workplace mobs are typically competent, resilient, well-educated, and are more likely to be female.

Christian Counseling for Trauma Recovery

There are many different types of situations that can result in trauma. But several highly effective methods of therapy can be used to treat people suffering from trauma. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is one method that is widely used.

If you have gone through a traumatic experience, a trained Christian counselor in San Diego can help you unpack some of the emotional baggage, and will help you to break free.

Photos
“Not in Public,” courtesy of Ezra Jeffrey, unsplash.com, Public Domain License; “Alone,” courtesy of pixabay.com, pexels.com, CC0 License; “Fishing boat,” courtesy of Alexander Andrews, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Hair,” courtesy of Aricka Lewis, unsplash.com, Public Domain License

11 Common Abandonment Issues in Relationships

If you find yourself often having anxious thoughts about your partner being distant or even leaving you, you may be dealing with some abandonment issues in relationships. Maybe you have a fear of vulnerability and are afraid to reveal too much about yourself because you’ll seem unlovable. Maybe you find yourself making a plan for how to protect yourself if you’re abandoned.

Another way these fears might manifest is if you choose to date one person after another in rapid succession, demonstrating a fear of commitment. In the relationship itself, you might seek constant reassurance, or become overly controlling of your partner’s activities and whereabouts; this is frequently coupled with an attitude of suspicion.

If most of those descriptors remind you of yourself, you might have abandonment issues.

Often, abandonment issues in relationships derive from a significant relationship in your past that failed to meet your needs physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. You may have suffered from abuse, neglect, or chronic absence. This would have happened in a context where you trusted someone to care for you, but instead, they disappointed or rejected you.

A sense of being abandoned includes feeling disconnected, rejected, and deprived of what you need to feel secure. Abandonment is a form of trauma, and you’re left with a fear of losing loved ones and being left on your own to survive. These fears are often subconscious, and you might not realize they’re the driving force for the way you act in future relationships.

11 Abandonment Issues in Relationships

The following are eleven symptoms of abandonment wounds that may have an impact on your relationships today:

1. Lack of Vulnerability

This attitude involves having a guarded outlook on relationships, especially new ones, springing from entrenched trust issues. Individuals with this mentality do not allow others to get close to them, and they don’t reveal their own vulnerability except to those they carefully select. By maintaining their privacy, they feel safe from being rejected.

2. Detachment

This behavior presents as coldness, distance, or being overly independent. Some people with abandonment turn to detachment to cope with the pain they’ve experienced in the past. Detachment goes hand in hand with a lack of commitment. A lack of commitment means you can’t be abandoned, and no one can hurt you.

Detachment is a sort of counter-dependence. It’s not giving yourself permission to need another person or depend on them. It’s a way to retain a sense of power, but it ultimately results in loneliness and isolation.

3. Clinginess

Another form abandonment issues can take is overwhelming clinginess or neediness. This might include sharing far too much about yourself very early on in a friendship or relationship or ignoring warning signs of dysfunction.

Once in a relationship, the clingy person will constantly want to be reassured and given lots of attention. They can seem overly exacting and difficult, and they usually fixate on one person whom they expect to meet all of their needs.

This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, in which the target of their clinginess cannot handle the person’s overwhelming neediness, so ends up rejecting them.

4. Difficulty Feeling Love

Another symptom of abandonment issues is difficulty with feeling attached and loving to someone. This person will often be out of touch with their own emotions and may seem generally disengaged from people and experiences.

They may try to avoid being comforted physically or emotionally (for example, being hugged or complimented). They try to hide their true selves, which prevents them from bonding with their loved ones. If they want something from their partner like more physical affection, instead they put their defense mechanisms and pretend they don’t care.

5. Controlling Behavior

Abandonment correlates with a feeling of unpredictability and people who have been abandoned often seek to control every detail so they feel their lives are safe and predictable. Every situation feels one step away from being dire or drastic. Everything needs to go the way they’ve planned, or they feel anxious. In relationships, this can present as being micromanaging.

Sometimes subtle manipulation is used, such as making indirect comments or suggestions in an attempt to control one’s partner or using emotional blackmail to keep your partner in the relationship.

Often, this person is always thinking a step ahead and tries to maintain a facade of perfection to control what people think of them.

Whether subtle or overt, manipulation tactics can become a normal part of this type of relationship, and they’re used to make the partner stay with them and love them. The more conflict there is in the relationship, the more the controlling behaviors increase.

6. Negative Core Beliefs

Those with abandonment issues may have trouble keeping problematic circumstances in perspective; instead, they catastrophize events or possibilities in their minds. If someone is late to meet them, they’ll feel like the friendship is ending. If they sense even a hint of disapproval, they’ll jump to extremes such as, “I’m stupid. I’m always wrong.” If they have any type of argument or disagreement, they’ll think the other person hates them.

These types of thinking patterns are an automatic response to traumatic experiences. Other examples might be: “Everyone will eventually leave me. I can survive on my own; it’s better not to trust other people. I don’t deserve to be loved. I have to work really hard for others to like me. I can’t live without this person. Everything is my fault; why do I mess everything up?”

7. Searching for Flaws

This issue happens when the person has a running list of their partner’s flaws, mistakes, or offenses. The more they can prove something’s wrong with their partner, the less close they’ll feel. This can be seen in a tendency to demand perfection from others because perfection will reassure them that the relationship is safe.

Not only that, but people with abandonment issues often demand perfection from themselves as well. They don’t want others to judge them, so they try to act perfect in their relationship to compensate for their deeply held belief that they themselves are unworthy of love and fundamentally flawed.

8. Fear of Intimacy

Self-sabotage is a frequent issue in these types of relationships, either in smothering behavior that results in anxiety when the two of you are apart or by completely letting go and not being healthfully interdependent.

Self-sabotage can also take the form of purposefully getting involved in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, knowing that you will probably be abandoned eventually.

This may seem highly counterintuitive and difficult for outsiders to understand, but this behavior is simply a way of avoiding genuine intimacy. Intimacy is scary because it requires vulnerability. And vulnerability can lead to being rejected (again).

So people who fear abandonment learn how to turn off their emotions, and this behavior becomes so normal to them that it can happen involuntarily (such as shutting down physically during sex).

Fear drives out love. You will find yourself unable to bond with your partner because you’re holding on to them so tightly, or already expecting that they will leave you.

9. Weak Boundaries

Going out of their way to comply with their partner’s every wish or perceived desire, someone with this abandonment issue will suppress their own needs to try to make their partner happy. Codependency and fear of abandonment are often closely correlated.

The codependent may linger in a destructive relationship, making excuses for how their partner behaves and treats them, and taking on the responsibility for meeting others’ needs and rescuing them from the consequences of their actions.

A strong sense of guilt often pervades the codependent person’s mind and emotions. If something goes wrong in their relationships, they blame themselves. They feel like have they to prove that they are worthy of the relationship, and because they’re so desperate not to lose their partner, they end up losing themselves instead.

10. Isolation

An individual may fear rejection so strongly that they end up hiding from relationships. They may feel like an outsider who is always misunderstood. They withdraw to protect themselves from exposure, criticism, or lack of love. Since they already feel inferior, they can’t take more rejection. But this sadly prevents them from the opportunity to have healthy friendships or relationships.

11. Being Overly Sensitive

Overreactions and defensiveness are a common response to the paranoia that everyone you love will eventually leave you. Rejection becomes a specter hanging over the person’s head.

If someone points out their flaws, they immediately interpret it as being rejected for who they are. Refusing to accept negative feedback allows the person to cope with their huge feelings of insecurity.

Christian Counseling for Abandonment Issues in Relationships

Imagine if you could be free to be yourself, and to base your behavior on love instead of fear. Imagine truly trusting someone else without fixating on the possibility of rejection. Talking to a counselor can help you become aware of the ways your fear of abandonment is damaging your current life and relationships.

By going to therapy, you’ll have a chance to unlock the hurts of your past so you can move beyond them to a place of freedom, and be able to experience intimacy without fear. You’ll be able to refute lies with the truth, and gain deliverance from a lifestyle of emotional torment.

Photos
“Contemplative landscape,” courtesy of Heidi Sandstrom, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Rhythms in Blue,” courtesy of Stephen Cook, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Searching,” courtesy of Luiza Sayfulina, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Empty,” courtesy of Eddy Lackmann, unsplash.com, CC0 License

Overcoming the Paralyzing Effects of Social Anxiety

Humans are designed for connection. We thrive when we are involved in healthy, mutually beneficial relationships. Yet, for some, the idea of connecting with another person incites a wave of panic.

People battling social anxiety disorder are often terrified to meet new people, are afraid of being judged negatively by others and the consuming fear of potential embarrassment rules their thoughts. As a result, this anxiety can interfere with going to work, attending school, or doing everyday tasks.

It’s normal and expected to have a little dose of anxiety and fear in situations that warrant it. If you are lying in a tent and hear a grizzly bear rummaging around in your camp, chances are you’ll hear the thunderous sounds of your heartbeat, feel the sweat begin to form on your palms and sense a tightness in your muscles. You are experiencing the body’s fight, flight or freeze response to the perceived threat.

On the other hand, you know anxiety has become more harmful than helpful when you become consumed by fear even thinking about going to a friend’s wedding and having to interact with a swarm of strangers. Having a survival response triggered when it’s not needed can become exhausting and interfere with a person’s quality of life.

Management Tools for Overcoming Social Anxiety

Diagnosis of social anxiety disorder requires the fear to have persisted for six months or more. Some people with social anxiety disorder find ways to navigate those anxious situations but do so with crippling anxiety. The goal is to learn management tools for the anxiety to prevent it from overriding the ability to function in a social setting.

Own Your Recovery Plan

Recovery is possible but usually requires some outside help. Powerful first steps getting counseling, reading up on the variety of treatment options available, and recruiting your friends and family to support you.

Here are a few popular management techniques for those facing social anxiety disorder.

Learn to Relax

Some people are more sensitive to their environment. For an individual who experiences more intense feelings, there is a higher probability of allowing their feelings to overwhelm them in threatening contexts.

Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint where social anxiety disorder originates. Some say it’s a part of their family history while others trace it to emotional scars left by past negative social encounters. Such individuals are more likely to avoid certain social situations, which only makes the anxiety worse.

Relaxation training is designed to decrease the physical responses of your body during the fight, flight, or freeze response. Relaxation can help create opportunities to perform at our best levels.

Types of training for relaxation include yoga, focused abdominal breathing, guided imagery and progressive relaxation of the muscles. Performing these exercises once a month, won’t create long-lasting change. Taking twenty minutes a day to practice relaxing will make it more of a natural reflex.

Retrain Your Brain

Our thoughts inevitably become woven into our actions. Pay attention to the thoughts that ricochet through your mind before or during a social activity that prompts anxiety. The greater the degree of negative thought, the greater the avalanche of anxiety that occurs.

A person suffering from social anxiety disorder might think to themselves, “People will think I’m an idiot if I speak at my friend’s wedding tonight,” and they will likely feel sufficient anxiety to prevent them from making a speech. The intensity of one’s thoughts is directly related to the intensity of one’s feelings.

Thoughts must be reined in and changed to reflect a more positive outcome. Instead of thinking, “People will think I’m an idiot if I speak at my friend’s wedding tonight,” you can change your thoughts to, “My friend will treasure the memory of me speaking at her wedding tonight.” The goal is to lower anxiety levels, so the person feels the liberty to participate in a previously avoided situation.

Philippians 4:8 gives us some clues on how to structure our thinking. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

You can ask yourself a few questions to align with this verse:

Do my thoughts match the truth in God’s Word?

Are these thoughts pure and lovely?

Would I praise my current thoughts?

Take a moment to process your thoughts and look for an avenue for clarity. After asking yourself the questions above, articulate a thought that is more balanced and then speak it out loud to yourself. At first, this may be tough to do because our mind is a battlefield. Through Christian counseling, people suffering from social anxiety disorder will learn to change core beliefs that impede their day-to-day functioning.

Face Your Fears

Phobias are a result of becoming overly sensitized. The sufferer comes to relate a given stimulus to anxiety. Let’s take public speaking as an example. If a person avoids public speaking, she feels better because she gets rid of her anxiety. The more she avoids public speaking, the more intense the anxiety will be when she is faced with the having to engage in public speaking. Like riding a bike, the more you practice the better you become.

Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the brain to create new neural connections over the course of one’s life. Though anxiety can become hardwired into a person’s brain, the brain can be “re-wired” by facing fears.

Edmund Bourne, Ph.D. in his “Anxiety and Phobia Workbook” describes it like this:

“Exposure is the process of unlearning the connection between anxiety and a particular situation. For exposure to occur, you need to enter a phobic situation directly, letting your anxiety rise and enduring the anxiety for a period of time to learn that you can actually handle your anxiety in a situation you’ve been accustomed to avoiding. The point is to 1) unlearn a connection between a phobic situation (such as driving on the freeway) and an anxiety response, and 2) gain confidence in your ability to handle the situation regardless of whether anxiety comes up. Repeatedly entering the situation will eventually allow you to overcome your previous avoidance.”

How do you eat a big meal? One bite a time. The same applies to overcoming anxiety. Begin by exposing yourself to the fear-inducing situation in small increments. So suppose that the fear is public speaking. A first step could be to imagine addressing a large crowd, all the while substituting positive thoughts in place of negative ones.

Once you’ve mastered that step, you can practice your speech in front of a mirror or camera. After that, speak in front of a small group of trusted friends or family. Finally, you are ready to speak at that staff meeting. These are confidence-building steps to overcome a debilitating fear of public speaking. You are rewiring your brain one step at a time.

Assertive Communication

Anxiety can cause people to lose their voice. Naturally, people with anxiety don’t always want to speak up. They rather tuck their heads into their shells. Being honest about your feelings and sounds hard, to the point that keeping them to yourself seems the easy way out.

Assertive communication is a clear and honest mode of self-expression. You advocate for your needs while respecting the needs of the other person. Assertive communication can help you break down communication into easily digestible chunks.

Assertive communication includes discovering what you really need, describing the way things are, opening up about your feelings, clearly stating what you want, and giving solid reasons why others should cooperate with the request.

For example, let’s say that I’m upset with a sibling who constantly borrows my clothes, but never returns them. The first step should be to understand what I really need. In this case, it would be “trust.” I gave something of value of mine, without it being returned as promised.

Now that the “need” is sorted out, I should take time to speak to my friend and describe the situation as it stands in a calm, collected manner. “Susan, I noticed that I’ve allowed you to borrow my clothes five different times, and you never returned the items.” If your feelings are hurt you can explain further, “I trusted you to return my favorite sweater and it frustrates me when it doesn’t happen.” Finally, add any requests or positive reasons for cooperation: “I need you to return my clothes when you promise or at least communicate with me if there’s a problem. This helps to build trust so that I can continue to share my favorite clothes with you.”

If Susan cares about the friendship, she will most likely apologize and return the borrowed items. This is a small example of leveraging assertive communication in common conversations. To become successful at assertive communication, it’s a best practice to learn the process and practice role-playing with a supportive person first. Before football players win the game, they spend hours practicing. It makes a difference in being more confident in social situations.

The above actions give you some idea of what can be done when anxiety attacks. Of course, anxiety is more complex than what can be covered in one article. If you are struggling with social anxiety disorder, find a Christian counselor you can trust to create a tailored recovery plan for you. Not only is recovery possible, but you can even thrive in social settings.

Photos
“Afraid,” courtesy of Joseph Gonzalez, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stretch,” courtesy of Jacob Postuma, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Worried,” courtesy of Eneas De Troya, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Worried,” courtesy of Had Limcaco, unsplash.com, CC0 License

Common Symptoms of ADHD and Effective Treatment Options

A child bolts around the classroom even after repeated directions to remain seated. He has verbal outbursts and constantly interrupts other students who are talking. This child could be displaying forms of ADHD.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) considers ADHD “a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.” People with ADHD may show both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity, or one may dominate.

Symptoms of ADHD

The NIH breaks ADHD down into three types: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADHD affects millions of children and often carries over into adulthood. Symptoms may decrease but are usually present to some degree.

Here are a few symptoms to look for to help recognize if you, or someone you know, has ADHD.

ADHD predominantly inattentive presentation:

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Finds paying attention challenging
  • Struggles to listen
  • Rarely follows through with given instructions
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring consistent mental effort
  • Regularly loses belongings
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is forgetful in daily activities

ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation:

  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair
  • Has difficulty remaining seated
  • Runs about or climbs excessively in children; extreme restlessness in adults
  • Difficulty engaging in activities quietly
  • Acts as if driven by a motor; adults will often feel inside as if they are driven by a motor
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
  • Difficulty waiting or taking turns Interrupts or intrudes upon others

If the individual meets the criteria for both inattention and hyperactive-impulsive she has combined ADHD presentations. Children with ADHD can face more challenging scenarios in life.

Finding it hard to focus in the classroom or to sit still can lead to poor academic performance. Some teachers and students may even pass judgment on a child with ADHD. Some peers and adults will refuse to accept a child with ADHD because of their behavior, which can result in low self-esteem.

How to Treat ADHD

ADHD does not need to be left untreated. Many therapies and methods exist to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve the quality of life.

1. Behavior therapy

Teachers and parents can implement behavioral strategies to give consistency and establish clear rules in the home and school environment. A token reward system is one strategy to use to give positive and negative feedback. If instructions or a task are completed a marble goes into the jar. If a task is not completed, two marbles are taken out. A reward is given based on the number of marbles in the jar at the end of the day.

2. Psychotherapy

Older children with ADHD can benefit from psychotherapy. Itcreates an environment where they can express their frustrations, explore behavior patterns and come up with solutions to combat their symptoms.

3. Parenting skills training

A young child with ADHD needs overwhelming support from his family. Often, the child might feel ridiculed at school. It’s important to create a safe place at home by learning your child’s behaviors and how you can react.

4. Family therapy

Not every member of the family might be as understanding of the one with ADHD. Setting aside time to meet with a family therapist will help manage stress levels. The child needs to know he is loved and accepted by the family.

5. Social skills training

Learning proper social behaviors will help children assimilate into the classroom culture.

6. Relaxation exercises

Never underestimate the power of relaxation. Trying different yoga exercise or forms of breathing can help a child with ADHD calm down.

7. Modified diet

For those with ADHD, most experts suggest a modified diet which involves eliminating foods thought to increase hyperactivity, such as sugar, and common allergens such as wheat, milk, and eggs. Some diets recommend avoiding artificial food colorings and additives. Caffeine use as a stimulant for children with ADHD can have adverse effects and is not recommended in the diet.

8. Exercise

Encourage children to move. Not only is exercise a massive health benefit, regular exercise may have a positive effect on behavior in children with ADHD when added to treatment.

What Should Christians Know About ADHD and its Treatment?

The number of children diagnosed with ADHD in the United States continues to rise. Turning to forms of medication for ADHD has taken families and schools by storm to such an extent that kids are routinely referred for psychiatric care. Most people default to the idea the child has a brain disease and needs medication to cure a chemical imbalance.

Not every doctor agrees that medication is the course to follow for a child with ADHD. Dr. Leon Eisenberg, known as the scientific father of ADHD, viewed ADHD as a fictitious diagnosis which consists only of identifying a list of behavioral symptoms. Indeed, a medical diagnosis does not seem to capture the essence of this problem and is too simple an answer to a complicated issue.

Christians often contemplate the use of ADHD medication for children. Some believe medication used during the younger years will become a gateway drug in the future or have adverse side effects to their child’s development.

Medication is not always the answer, especially for such a complex issue like ADHD. Here are a few practices Christians can put in place to help their child struggling with ADHD.

Become the advocate

Your child will need to know he has your support no matter what. Become his voice at school to ensure teachers are working toward your child’s success as well. Often, children with ADHD are alienated or seen as a nuisance. You can become a part of a team that decides what kind of services the school has in place for children with ADHD.

Boost self-esteem

Constant negative feedback can take a toll on a child’s confidence. Just imagine if you were in a setting where almost everything you did was seen as wrong or bad. Set aside special time during the day for one-on-one connection. Notice how your child is gifted and nurture that gift.

Praise every success

Notice and give praise for your child’s success, no matter how small it might seem to you. Encouragement can work wonders, especially if the child is accustomed to negative comments. It takes even more praise to reverse the effects of negative feedback.

Christians should take time to perform their own research about treatment plans for ADHD. Every family must make an individual choice of whether medication is the right next step for their child.

Impulsive and inattentive children need parental love, guidance, and discipline before any type of medical intervention. Christian counselors in San Deigo can help navigate behaviors and create different strategies to implement during daily interactions with children with ADHD.

Photos
“Can’t Study,” courtesy of amenclinicsphotos ac, Flickr Creative Commons, CC0 License; “School,” courtesy of amenclinicsphotos ac, Flickr Creative Commons, CC0 License; “Medication,” courtesy of jarmoluk, pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Street scene,” courtesy of London Scout, unsplash.com, CC0 License

Why Do Some Women Have a Low Sex Drive?

References Dr. Ruth Morehouse in “Why You Don’t Want To Have Sex” from Oprah Magazine July-August 2010 and “Passionate Marriage” by Dr. David Schnarch

Women often bear the brunt of the details of managing the household and daily family life. When they feel like they can’t catch up, they often become stressed and overwhelmed, leading to a sense of depletion and exhaustion that can carry over into their sex lives and lead to a low sex drive.

Sex can start to seem like one more chore to add to the to-do list. How could her husband possibly expect more out of her than she’s already doing?

The lack of sexual desire sometimes leads to a feeling of guilt or shame. Why wouldn’t you want to have sex? You must be dysfunctional in some way, right? That’s probably not the case at all.

If there’s no underlying physical problem, take time to explore the reasons for your low sex drive, and realize that they are legitimate issues that deserve to be addressed, not glossed over.

In fact, sex therapist Dr. David Schnarch says that being honest about your lack of desire shows good judgment: “Healthy people don’t want sex when it’s not worth wanting.” (127)

Reasons for a Low Sex Drive in Women

Clinical psychologist Ruth Morehouse has identified several reasons why women often experience a decline in sexual desire as they get older. Her husband’s book Passionate Marriage builds upon this information with suggestions for how to address these issues.

1. The Effect of Stress on Sexual Desire

The process of pregnancy, childbirth, infant care, and possibly breastfeeding can make a woman feel that her body doesn’t belong to her anymore. Sex can start to seem like one more physical demand placed on an already depleted body. Saying no to sex can be one of the only ways a woman regains a sense of physical autonomy in the midst of the demands of motherhood.

This perspective unfortunately assumes that sex is something the wife does for the husband, instead of being a time of mutual enjoyment. This mindset often develops due to one partner having a higher sex drive than the other; in this case, the husband has a higher drive than the wife, although the reverse is frequently true as well.

When the higher drive partner initiates frequently, the lower drive spouse may begin to feel pressured. Consider how you can take some of the pressure off and rekindle a feeling of romance and mutual desire.

Here are some ideas:

  • Request that your spouse take a break from initiating for a brief period of time to give you some space.
  • Schedule some time away for just the two of you to spend alone together.
  • Put sex on the calendar. This doesn’t have to be unromantic; it can give the higher drive spouse reassurance, while removing the pressure on the lower drive spouse. This also has the benefit of giving a wife time to prepare mentally and emotionally. Taking time to de-stress and invest in self-care beforehand can increase a wife’s sexual desire when sex is on the agenda.

2. Marriage as a Low Priority

It’s one thing to say your marriage is a priority, but it’s important to take practical steps to keep it that way. This involves altering your view of sex, trying to see it not as an act of service or a task on the checklist, but as a way to connect and build intimacy in your marriage.

Take time to actually think about sex during the day, and consider the physical benefits—a release of tension being one of them. Sex can de-stress you once you get over the initial mental barrier.

Acute stressors in life can result in marriage being deprioritized, but this will only result in more problems. It’s important to work on marriage problems as they arise in order to reduce their negative impact on the relationship, including the sexual relationship.

“Clearly, emotional issues have a direct physiological impact on sexual functioning. Generally, the more unresolved issues that intrude during sex, the further away you are from your sexual potential, because these issues limit your sexual preferences and pleasure: you can relax, focus, and enhance the physical stimulation you’re receiving only when it fits your dynamics.” (86)

3. Dissatisfaction in the Sexual Relationship

If sex has become monotonous and routine, this may impact your level of desire. Over the years, it’s easy to slip into a familiar pattern, but this can start to seem rote and impersonal.

A wife may feel taken for granted instead of cherished. She might want to ask for a different approach, but doesn’t know how to without making it sound like her husband is inadequate.

The early stages of a relationship are usually full of intense connection and physical attraction, and when this naturally fades, sex can start to seem like a letdown.

It’s important to stoke the fires of intimacy and passion once the honeymoon phase has passed. The sexual relationship within marriage needs a solid foundation built on a holistic relational approach.

Physical attraction can’t be the basis for everything; the emotional connection needs to be cultivated and maintained as an integral aspect of sex.

“As you age, feelings and thoughts must replace biological drive and sensory awareness as the major determinants of your sexuality. Exploring your sexual potential isn’t just easier to do; it’s a necessity if you want to keep sex a vital part of your life as you get older.” (89)

Years into a marriage, many couples have figured out what works for them in order for each partner to feel satisfied, but it’s important not to allow the relationship to settle into a rut. You can’t expect to have an intimate bond if you treat your spouse like a checklist.

Schnarch emphasizes the need to seek beauty not in the act of sex itself, but in the person that you’re with. “There’s no beauty in sex–the beauty is in people. You can’t save the beauty in sex, you have to put it in.” (75)

The book of Song of Solomon illustrates this excellently. Sex isn’t the point; the lover and beloved are the focus. Physical satisfaction isn’t an end in itself, but the result of pursuing and enjoying the other person.

4. Insecurities and Stagnancy in the Sexual Relationship

Perhaps you haven’t considered the role insecurity might play even in a seasoned relationship. You can take responsibility for your own satisfaction by realizing it’s up to you to improve your sex life. Simply going through the motions prevents you from being fully present. This contributes to ongoing stagnancy.

Morehouse describes women who have dissatisfying sexual relationships due to feelings of insecurity in their overall relationship. They’re uncomfortable with disturbing the status quo. The sex is fine, it’s acceptable, so why rock the boat?

What if this makes things worse instead of better? What if you feel embarrassed by asking your spouse to change the familiar routine?

But if you’re so worried about creating problems that you never speak up, this actually leads to other issues. Sex may feel boring and unsatisfying, leading to a lack of desire, and it becomes a vicious cycle. Even though you’re not doing anything to improve your sex life, you might begin to resent your spouse for not making it better.

It’s important to own the fact that if you want your sex life to be more satisfying, you have to be willing to acknowledge your lack of desire and initiate change.

In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul describes the battle between his indwelling sin and his desire to live in obedience to God’s commands. He knew God’s will, but he still sinned.

In the same way, knowledge and action can remain polarized in marriage as a spouse knows they’re struggling with the current state of things, but doesn’t move forward to change them.

Begin a conversation with your spouse about trying something new in your sexual relationship. Think of it as exploring a new facet of your favorite hobby. Any favorite activity needs a change in routine once in awhile for it to remain enjoyable. Doing the same exact thing every time is more like an assembly line than a gratifying sexual experience.

When to Seek Counseling

Genesis 2:24 emphasizes the high value of the marriage covenant, which creates a new union that supersedes one’s family of origin. If your marriage is last on the list of priorities in a busy life, becoming “one flesh” in all areas will be very difficult.

Christian counseling San Diego can provide a safe, mature environment for you and your spouse to work on your intimate difficulties and develop a deeper understanding and bond.

Photos

“I’m with you,” courtesy of Brooke Cagle, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Beach Day,” courtesy of Carly Rae Hobbins, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Thinking,” courtesy of Jaelynn Castillo, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Bedtime,” courtesy of Annie Spratt, unsplash.com, CC0 License

Common Types of Depression and What to Do About It

Depression is a complex issue. Research shows that millions suffer from some form of depression each year. The problem, however, is that many who suffer from it are not even aware. It may take months or years before the sufferer realizes that there is something really wrong.

And to make things worse, though they realize there is a problem, only one third of them choose to seek help. Christians, especially, can be quite reluctant to do so, believing that depression means there is something wrong with them mentally or even spiritually. They are afraid to be labeled as “different” in their church or inner circle so they keep it to themselves.

Types of Depression

There are various types of depression that may be triggered by a number of factors such as the surrounding environment, major issues in life, stress and even genetics – in fact, those with a family history of a depression disorder have a higher risk of suffering the same.

Some types are instantly noticeable as a sudden event (e.g. death in the family, loss of job, broken heart) that may cause immediate changes in the person’s life. Other forms, however, gradually build up with the sufferer passing it off as something minor until it is too much to bear.

Here are some of the most common types of depression worldwide:

Clinical or Major Depression

Some medical specialists call this “major depressive disorder”. A person suffering from such feels depressed almost all the time. They may have difficulty sleeping, focusing on work and other life activities, or even remembering important things. Physically, there may be a loss of weight and a lack of energy. Emotionally, they may be quick to anger or immensely sad at times.

For them, life itself may seem quite meaningless, greatly troubling the people around them. There are many triggering factors such as genetics or biological changes; though commonly, it is a major life upheaval (e.g. separation, bankruptcy, health crisis) that causes it.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

The symptoms of this are similar to major depression but in a milder form. The difference is that PPD lasts much longer, with a person being diagnosed with such if it has lasted for at least two years.

PPD is a recurring depression, possibly disappearing for a month or two, but then striking again. Sufferers often claim that they have been depressed “forever” due to its long-lasting nature.

Atypical Depression (Subtype of Major Depression or PDD)

This is a subtype of either major depression or PDD. It is characterized by certain symptoms like a change in appetite (e.g. eating more or less than usual), excessive sleepiness, tiredness, and sensitivity to rejection. Mood swings dependent upon environmental stimuli are another characteristic since someone with atypical depression can become happy for a time if something positive occurs.

Postpartum Depression

At some point in time, most mothers, particularly new ones, experience the case of “The Baby Blues.” As they deal with hormonal changes, fatigue, and the overwhelming feeling of being responsible for a new life, it is quite understandable why slight depression may set in.

However, those with severe postpartum depression have a higher feeling of despair which may last for months or even a few years after the birth. Such depression may make it difficult for the mother to connect with the child or even cause thoughts of harming the child.

Manic Depression

Also known as Bipolar Disorder, this is a serious form of depression where the sufferer experiences periods of intense sadness followed by periods of mania. The exact levels of mania depend upon whether the person is Type 1 or 2, with Type 1 being the more severe situation as the level of elation is considered very abnormal. Professional help ought to be sought for anyone with this disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Those with this disorder have a depression connected to the seasons of the year. SAD usually sets in during the colder and stormier parts of the year such as fall and winter. During such times, the person falls into a depressive state and has difficulty functioning, similar to someone with major depression. However, once the season ends, the person usually returns to normal.

Helpful Methods for Dealing with Depression

These are some ways to handle depression:

Therapy

By discussing your situation with a trained therapist, patterns of behavior or thought that contribute to your depression may be discovered. Important tasks (e.g. identifying and reframing your cognitive distortions, journal writing, mood tracking, and coming up with a self-care plan) are then given to help you at home.

The therapist may also introduce exercises that help reduce stress and anxiety; assist in understanding your disorder; help come up with methods to avoid the triggers that may aggravate your depression, and teach you how to cope should depression set in.

Medication

Medication, alongside therapy, is a typical component of depressive disorder treatment. Depending on the severity, this may be prescribed for just a short time or even long-term. Some common medications given include benzodiazepines, sеlесtіvе ѕеrоtоnіn reuptake іnhіbіtоrѕ (SSRI’ѕ), sеrоtоnіn-nоrеріnерhrіnе reuptake inhibitors (SNRI’s), or trісусlіс antidepressants.

Self-саrе

When one is depressed, personal care is often the least of one’s priorities. But intentionally trying to deal with your circumstances can really make a difference. This includes improving your mental outlook, nourishing your body, and caring for your spiritual needs. The following are some helpful activities to try:

  • Mental self-care: deep breathing, journal writing
  • Physical self-care: regular exercise, adequate sleep, proper diet
  • Spiritual self-care: prayer time, connecting with family and friends

Though such strategies really do work for many, should you need something different, do not be afraid to discuss other options with your therapist.

Depression can be beaten if proper treatment is sought. For Christians, depression is not a sign of spiritual weakness nor is it a sin. With professional help, one can address the situation before things become even worse.

Photos
“Down,” courtesy of Max Sandelin, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Alone,” courtesy of freestocks.org, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Perfect Portrait,” courtesy of Michael Mroczek, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Keep climbing,” courtesy of Bruno Nascimento, unsplash.com, CC0 License