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I pulled into the brick gate and stopped at the guard shack, palm trees on either side and air-conditioning blasting.  Worries raced through my mind and I found myself asking, “was this a mistake?”

The answer on that hot summer day was a resounding, “no,” but the overwhelming feeling of moving over 700 miles from my home spoke loudly into my anxious heart that day.  

We’ve all been through big transitions.  For me, moving to grad school was high on that list.  I didn’t like the idea of being so far way from family and friends.  The humidity in New Orleans felt much less suffocating than the weight of the transition on moving day.

My transition to New Orleans was not noteworthy because it was the largest transition of my life, it was noteworthy because it was one of the bumpiest.  From my own bumpy and not-so-bumpy transitions and sitting with others that walk through difficult transitions each day, I hope these three questions will help you ACE your next transition.

Am I spending enough time praying about this transition?

The “A” in the ACE acronym is “Am I spending enough time praying about this transition?” because I know from experience and Scripture that prayer is a key to a great transition.

When I moved to New Orleans, I knew without-a-doubt that I was supposed to be in New Orleans.  God used a specific Scripture to call me to pursue graduate studies and He used another specific Scripture to call me to move to complete those studies.  Best Counselor Edmond In the desperation of not wanting to move, I cried out to the Lord more than I normally do. Prayer happened and that was the glue that held that transition together.

Genesis 37 speaks of another significant transition, but one that was more of an affliction than my move to graduate school.  Joseph, the favored son, was sold into slavery. He went from wearing an ornate robe to wearing chains. He went from living in Canaan with his family to living in a new land with a new master.

Most of us will never experience a transition quite as drastic or unexpected as Joseph’s, but prayer was a key element in this story Best Counselor Edmond.  We see examples of both prayerless and prayerfulness.

Joseph’s brothers exhibited prayerlessness as they did not pray through the situation.  Instead of proactively praying, they reactively made life-changing decisions. In verse 18, Scripture tells us that “they saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him.” They didn’t stop to pray Best Counselor Edmond.  They didn’t pause to check their emotions. Reuben, one of Joseph’s brothers, had a moment of integrity as he encouraged his brothers not to kill Joseph; however, that ended just as quickly when the brothers were eating and happened to see a group to whom they thought would be good to sell Joseph.  

Joseph exhibited prayerfulness as he prayed in his situation.  Looking ahead to Genesis 39, Joseph’s response reflects his prayer life.  Joseph made the most of his enormous transition, he maintained integrity, and “the LORD was with Joseph” (verse 2).  

Prayer impacts the way we transition Best Counselor Edmond.  It impacts our decision to transition. It impacts how we survive transition.  Prayer is a key to transitioning well.

Can I cut something out?

The “C” in the ACE acronym is “Can I cut something out?” because transitions require more space in our schedules.

Before I moved to New Orleans, I made the decision to take the summer off.  In theory, that would have helped my transition; however, I filled the entire summer with serving in church.  I went on every mission trip, helped with every camp, and served at Vacation Bible School. My “break” was busier than my work.  The busy summer before I moved New Orleans did not help me transition well Best Counselor Edmond. I went into a big transition exhausted.

Looking back to Joseph’s life in Genesis, we see that Joseph literally had everything cut out during his transitions.  It wasn’t by choice, but the result was Joseph relying solely on the Lord for strength. As a result, Joseph transitioned from freed man to slave with such grace that he eventually became the second-in-command to Egypt Best Counselor Edmond.  The road was bumpy, but Joseph’s transition was not.

Are my Expectations realistic?

The “E” in the ACE acronym is about Expectations.  Realistic expectations are essential to a smooth transition.  

When I transitioned to New Orleans, I expected to make friends immediately.  After all, I was moving to New Orleans for graduate school and I made some of my best friends in previous schooling.  However, it wasn’t as easy as I expected Best Counselor Edmond. I moved in August but didn’t even go to dinner with someone until the end of October.  My expectations fueled disappointment in this season.

For Joseph, he went from being the favored son to being sold into slavery, from being rescued by an Egyptian officer to thrown into prison, from being put in charge in prison to interpreting dreams, from being forgotten for his interpretations to being second-in-command of all of Egypt.  In Joseph’s rollercoaster life, the Lord was continuously with him and Joseph was obedient. His obedience reflects low expectations for the world, but great faith in the Lord—both of which are incredibly realistic. The reality is: the world will always disappoint, but God will always satisfy Best Counselor Edmond OK.  Are your expectations too high for the world? Too low for God?

Now, let’s go and ACE our next transition!

By Katie MacDougall

If you would like more help in getting unstuck and making changes that actually improve you relationships and life then contact us today at (405) 921-7776.  You can also go to Newvisioncounseling.live to email us or find out more about how we can help.

How to Relax in 24/7 Culture of Performance

Posted by Shawn on  June 5, 2019

Category: Uncategorized

This month we are focusing on the concept of our need to relax. I know what your thinking, “Relax?! Who has time to relax?” And I agree that it seems as if relaxation is almost a lost art in our current culture constantly touting the benefits of “crushing it.” You don’t see many books on “100 Ways to Relax” making it on the NYT bestseller list. Nobody that comes to Oklahoma City Marriage Counseling seems to be looking for improved methods on how to slow down, get more rest, and smell the proverbial roses.

 

Currently I’m sitting in one of America’s most frequented places to hang out and relax, a coffee shop. Why are they so popular? Could it be because we have discovered a legal stimulate that enables us to get even more hyped, further fuel our ambitions, and get more done in Oklahoma City Marriage Counseling?

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong in Oklahoma City Marriage Counseling with hacking your life so you can run if more efficiently and effectively. By all means, go ahead and create great systems, meal prep on Sundays, and use more “Grit” to maximize your efforts and accomplish more.

There is certainly nothing wrong with setting goals, working hard, and feeling good about what we have achieved. But here is the thing that I think we need to consider Oklahoma City Marriage Counseling, in all our doing, how well are we relating… both to God and to others.

As Christians, I believe we are to live our lives, first and foremost relationally focused. God has called us first to be his child and a part of His family in Oklahoma City Marriage Counseling and around the world. Remember the first words recorded in Scripture by the Father to Jesus? “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” Why was the Father pleased with Jesus? Was it because of all the miracles He had performed? Nope, He hadn’t performed any yet. Was it because He was “killing it” in the ministry? No, His public ministry had not yet begun. Here’s the point, God the Father was not pleased by Jesus’ 80 hour work week, His peak performance, or his hustle. God was pleased with Jesus simply because he was His son.   Just as I am pleased with my children simply because they belong to me. (And I think it could easily be argued that no one accomplished more in shorter amount of time than Jesus.)  Would you like to start Oklahoma City Marriage Counseling

My point? If we want to relax and still see great results in our lives, I believe the key is understanding the value God puts on relationships in Oklahoma City Marriage Counseling.  Jesus’ life and ministry modeled this. Scripture leaves us clues to the value Jesus placed on His relationships with His Father and His followers, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off…to pray [to His father]” Mark 1:35. “Jesus withdrew His disciples to the lake…” Mark 3:7. Simply put, Jesus prioritized relationship over revenue, people over performance, and quality connections over quality control.

Knowing this is God’s method to living a fruitful life, it is no coincidence science has recently discovered that when we are relating to others-when we feel connected and bonded in relationships- our body releases the powerful hormone, oxytocin in Oklahoma City Marriage Counseling. One such review into the research of this potent chemical found that “..oxytocin reduces the body’s stress and anxiety…and contributes to relaxation, trust, and psychological stability…” (Medical News Today). Did you catch that? Relationships help us to relax, and when we are less stressed we can actually accomplish more!

Could you use a little more peace and relaxation in your life? Try spending a little more time with the people in your life that matter. And as you are crushing your goals on your way to greatness, take time to celebrate with the ones you love, because in the end, it’s no fun to win alone.

 

Blessings!

Gina

Have you planned for an empty nest? It might be smart to start thinking about it. If you have already launched your children out of the nest, how’s your marriage?

When I meet with empty-nesters in my practice, I ask about how they are making it through the transition. For years life and schedules and attention has been focused on the children. Some couples manage to pay good attention to their marriage and to each other, and if this is you, you probably don’t need to read this blog but should consider Christian Counseling Edmond!  However, so many couples have to find a way to redefine their marriage and learn how to connect with each other again. Being a parent for so long changes you!

It’s sad and true that the divorce rate for empty-nesters is going up. There are many theories and reasons for why this is happening. I think the simplest reason and the one I focus on is this: The couples that divorce are the ones that are unable to reconnect as partners and spouses, and instead of figuring out how to connect to each other and love each other, they wind up in divorce court Christian Counseling Edmond.

Even if couples don’t get divorced, they often struggle to find their groove and truly enjoy each other again. Going from parent to partner is challenging for many. To help couples in this transition, I came up with three needs for empty-nesters to help them avoid either divorce or further emptiness when the kids move out Christian Counseling Edmond.

The first need is a plan! Everyone who has raised children says some version of this: You’re gonna look up one day and they’ll be gone. What this means is make a plan for what you would like life to look like after the last child leaves when they are in high school Christian Counseling Edmond. Start talking to each other now about your dreams and desires. What do you want your marriage to be like when you are no longer waiting up for your teenager to get home?

If your kids are already out of the house, it’s time to sit down together and make a plan about how you want to spend your time. Sometimes one partner might be doing just fine and assuming things are great, while the other partner is feeling lonely and frustrated. Take time to get on the same page. I encourage couples to start dating each other again Christian Counseling Edmond. You’ve got some catching up to do after years of being a parent.

The second need is purpose. What do you want out of life now that you have time to focus more on yourself and your marriage? What do you want to spend your time doing? I bet over the years you’ve had the thought that started with, “When the kids are out of the house, I am going to…” It’s time to remind yourself of those things you told yourself you would do. Is there a ministry at church that you could now be involved in Christian Counseling Edmond? Any hobbies?

 

I suggest finding ways to serve others and share your faith. Be purposeful in sharing your time and your experience with others. This is a unique time in life to find new ways to use your gifts.

 

The third need is plenty of sunshine and Christian Counseling Edmond! Okay, I pushed it there with the P’s! Get out and do things together—take walks, go to dinner, spend time in nature, etc. Do not spend all your time in the house missing your children and wondering where the time went! It is so easy to turn the TV on in the evenings and disengage. While there is nothing wrong with TV, I encourage you to have more in common than the TV shows you watch together.

 

Plan, Purpose, and Plenty of Sunshine! These are 3 needs for empty-nesters.

 

Before I conclude this blog, though, I want to address one more thing. We all need to be working on our marriages throughout our entire marriage, not just when things get difficult Christian Counseling Edmond. Couples who work on their marriages and focus on staying connected and in love with each other have less difficulties when things change, such as when children are born or when children move out of the house.

 

Working on your marriage now is the most important action you can take, even if it is not in crisis. Grab a book on marriage and learn how to improve Christian Counseling Edmond. Go to a marriage seminar together at least once a year. Listen to a marriage podcast together. Now is the time to work on your marriage.

 

If you find yourself in a difficult spot in your marriage, do not hesitate to reach out for help Christian Counseling Edmond! The sooner you reach out, the sooner you can get back on the path to restoration with your partner.

 

I specialize in helping couples have great marriages. I have a passion for marriages and want them to succeed! If I can help you, no matter what stage of life you are in, give me a call or send me an email—I’d love to talk with you about how to improve your marriage.

 

At New Vision Counseling and Consulting, we value marriages and want to see your marriage honor God! All of our therapists are equipped to help you succeed in love and life. We’re here to help, serve, and provide the best for you, your marriage, and your family. You can reach us at 405-921-7776.

3 Simple Steps to Self-care

Posted by Shawn on  May 21, 2019

Category: Uncategorized

Self-care is a buzz word in the mental health community, and it is being used more and more. With our ever-increasing busy lives, we often neglect the need to care for ourselves. Although self-care is crucial to our wellbeing, it is undervalued in our society. When we want to unwind, we often sit and veg out in front of the TV, binge watching our favorite show, or mindlessly scrolling on our phones so that we don’t have to think. These forms of relaxation are not healthy and they are not giving our body or mind the care it really needs.  

Due to our constant state of action, we are more stressed and sick than the generations before us. We often ignore the need that we have to care for ourselves, stating that we don’t have time, it’s too hard, or that we don’t have the money for those types of “imagined” luxuries. The truth is that we do have time, it can be easy, and free.

When some acknowledge their need for self-care, they get overwhelmed by the changes they know they need to make in order to take better care of themselves. The good thing is that self-care can be simple. It’s making the small, simple changes that are going to help you create the lasting changes that you need. Here are a few ways that you can take those small steps towards self-care.

  1. Changing the way you eat. This is one area that most people already know they need to change to get healthier, but often people complain that eating healthy cost too much or takes a lot of time to prepare. People are in a hurry and it seems much easier to just grab a donut or swing through to grab some fast food. People also feel overwhelmed when they think of all they need to change when it comes to their diet, so they often give up early or don’t even start at all. The good news is that although making small changes might not seem like a lot, they can make a big difference. Some simple ways to start making changes to your diet include reading labels, cutting out food items with High Fructose Corn Syrup (or corn syrup period), drinking more water (they have apps to help), choosing specific items to buy organic (the dirty dozen), and making small switches like eating spinach or kale instead of iceberg lettuce. If you focus on changing 1% at a time, eventually those percentages will add up and you will realize that you have made a lot of changes to the way you eat.
  2. Spend more time outside. Today we spend most of our time indoors and that can actually impact our health negatively in numerous ways. Research has shown that spending 20-30 minutes outside a few times per week can actually benefit our physical and emotional health.
    • Sunshine. Getting some time in the sun will help increase Vitamin D levels in the body. Over half of the world’s population is deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a number of health problems including depression. Spending time in the sun’s UVB rays is essential for our body’s production of Vitamin D. While it is not found in many foods, it can be found in supplements, but neither of these forms has the same impact as Vitamin D produced within the skin through sun exposure.
    • Nature. Research has shown that the sights and sounds of nature can reduce stress levels and mental fatigue, as well as increase the speed of physical healing. You can spend some time sitting in your yard or the park, or taking a walk/hike. Although being in nature is preferable, studies have shown that small fragments of nature such as a plant, a picture, or a sound machine can positively impact wellbeing.

 

  • Earthing/Grounding. Earthing, also known as grounding, is a mode of receiving electrons from the earth through direct physical contact. Since the beginning of time, people have had regular contact with the ground through being barefoot or using animal skins for coverage. It wasn’t until the last 60 plus years that we have increasingly began to wear shoes with rubber/plastic soles, which inhibits electron transmission. Studies have shown that the electrons gained through earthing, help decrease free radicals and oxidative stress within the body, decreasing inflammation. Research has also shown other benefits of earthing include better sleep; reduced pain; reduced cortisol levels; and switches from the body’s sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells our body to relax; in addition to many other benefits.

 

  1. Breathing. When people get stressed, we often hear people tell them “Just breathe.” Many people blow off this instruction, unaware of the benefits of just breathing. Deep breathing helps trigger our parasympathetic nervous system, which as mentioned earlier, tells our body to relax. When deep breathing is done regularly, studies have shown that it reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and emotional exhaustion. Not only have breathing exercises been shown to benefit mental health, it has also been shown to produce positive effects in physical health such as reducing blood pressure, greater pulmonary function, increases heart rate variability, as well as oxygenation.

These are just a few simple things you can do to increase your self-care and well-being. While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it can definitely get you started on a journey to wellness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2872309/

If you would like more help in getting unstuck and making changes that actually improve you relationships and life then contact a licensed therapist near me today at (405) 921-7776.  You can also go to Newvisioncounseling.live to email us or find out more about how we can help.

5 Steps for Making a Smooth Move

Posted by Shawn on  May 21, 2019

Category: Uncategorized

For many, summer brings transition. This transition can be a welcomed break from busy routines, but for others, summer time can bring a move. Some may look forward to moving, while others may be dreading it. The thought of leaving behind the friends and family you love can be devastating. Sometimes we don’t realize how deep our roots run until it is time to pick up and move. Finding a new church home, community group, job, doctor/pediatrician, day care, hair stylist, etc. can feel overwhelming. Yet, some people may be excited to make those changes. Maybe your roots don’t run deep where you are, so you may welcome a move; some even find it adventurous.   

Whether you’re moving yourself or using a moving company, both can be stressful. Getting everything sorted and packed, then unpacked and put away, can leave you feeling exhausted mentally and physically. It can feel like a job that will never get done. You may experience problems such as forgetting what boxes certain things were packed, or realizing that something important was unintentionally packed away and you’re not sure where to find it. In addition, your plate is full of all the priorities of moving such as finding a new home, utilities, changing your address, school registration, car registration, etc.. The accumulation of these things, if not dealt with properly, can begin to stack up and the next thing you know you’re left feeling resentful, bitter, ungrateful, stressed, anxious, and/or overwhelmed.

A move can impact each person in the family differently, especially for those who are more resistant to change. If the move is due to a job change, whoever has the job may have an advantage over the rest of the family, as they have the opportunity to get to know others through their new job. For a spouse who may not work outside the home, it may be difficult to make those new connections so quickly if they are not intentional at creating those opportunities. Those who are used to frequent moves, like military families, may be hesitant to engage in new relationships knowing that they will be leaving again in a few years. The move can be especially hard on the children. Even if they understand why the family is moving and are supportive, it doesn’t make the pain of leaving friends, school, and clubs/activities any less. Anytime someone is uprooted from their home, it has a tremendous effect. If you’re planning a move there are steps that you can take to make your family’s transition much smoother.

  1. Get organized. Getting organized will help your move feel less chaotic. Make to-do lists of what needs to be done prior to the move and afterwards. This will help you easily track what you have and have not completed. Make a list of essentials that you will need throughout the move and will want to avoid packing. Also, keeping all your important information together such as contact info, contracts, dates, and any other documents you may need.
  2. Look for the positives. It can be easy to focus on everything you don’t like about your new destination. We often remember all the good things about our old home and tend to forget the negative aspects of it. We then compare the negative attributes of our new homes to the positive qualities of our old homes; when we do that, our new homes will lose every time. Look for the things that you do like/appreciate about your new home and city, and make a list of the new places that you are excited to try. Plan family outings to areas in your new town that the family is likely to enjoy.
  3. Support yourself and each other. Due to the impact that the move has on each person, it is important that you provide the needed support for each other, as well as for yourself. Emotions are likely to be running high, and each person will handle them differently. Make time to have heart talks. Creating an environment for each person to safely talk about how they feel and how they are experiencing the move is important. Be patient with one another, the transition is usually tough on everyone. Don’t forget to support yourself. Make sure you are spending plenty of time reading your Bible and in prayer. God is our comforter and can give you the comfort you need during this process. Take time to do some things for yourself to de-stress. You could take a bath, read a book, exercise, take a walk, or even prepare a stress away kit to have on hand for you and the family that is easily accessible.
  4.  Set goals. There are so many tasks that need to be done when moving that it can feel overwhelming. Set realistic goals for getting those tasks completed. Do not try to do it all in one day. Once you have achieved your goals, reward yourself. Rewarding yourself with some down time to relax or taking the family out for ice cream for a job well done can help motivate you to complete what needs to be done.
  5. Get plugged in. How quickly you get plugged in to your new community will impact how smoothly you will transition. Start researching churches before you move. You can even listen to sermons online to help narrow down the churches that you are interested in visiting once you arrive. Look for ministries or other ways to serve/volunteer, this will give you the opportunity to get to know people quickly. Walk over and meet your neighbors. You could invite them over for a dinner once you get settled. Host a meal for some of the co-workers and their families of you or your spouse’s new job. Look for ways that your children can get involved and meet new people. The faster you get connected, the quicker it will feel like home.

These five steps are certainly not an exhaustive lists, but just a few ideas to get you started. Sit down as a family and brainstorm some additional ideas together. Moving can be stressful, but with a little intentionality your transition can go a lot smoother.

If you would like more help in getting unstuck and making changes that actually improve you relationships and life then contact a licensed marriage and family therapist today at (405) 921-7776.  You can also go to Newvisioncounseling.live to email us or find out more about how we can help.

 

Yesterday evening, as I was returning home from a trip to the grocery store, I noticed that the plants on my porch appeared wilted and sagging.  I thought to myself, “I just watered those yesterday”, but then I noticed the hot sun beaming down on them and realized they needed another drink in order to thrive again.  I watered them, and within hours they perked right back up. This was a nice reminder that we can’t just nourish something once and expect it to thrive forever. We must water our plants multiple times a week or else they will die, and I’m sorry to break the news to you, my friends, but the same goes for our relationships. Now serving Edmond Through Edmond Marriage Counseling.

Often times, we start out strong in our relationships and our marriages.  We pour on the nourishment in the beginning because things are fresh and new.  It’s so easy in the beginning! Slowly though, over time, we fail to “water” the flower that is our partnership, and then we wonder why it begins to sag and wilt.  If we nourish our marriage every single day, it will thrive. If we neglect it day after day, it will die. Simple as that! So how do we ensure that we provide the proper “nutrients” to our relationship on the daily?  There are so many ways to do this, but I’m going to share an easy one with you: Be intentional about the daily transition times in your relationship.  By transitions I mean, the way you say, “Good morning”, “See ya later”, “Hello again” and “Goodnight”.  These are four beautiful, frequent opportunities to maintain positivity in your relationship.  However, these are often taken for granted and become dull parts of our habitual existence. Decide right now that you will make a big, loving deal out of these four moments every day, and your relationship is already moving forward!  Now serving Edmond Through Edmond Marriage Counseling.

Human beings are designed for connection.  We all crave it, whether we admit it or not!  We also want to feel significant and important. Well, nothing will make your partner feel more disconnected and more insignificant than being ignored or even overlooked by you!  So, as you think about the best ways to execute your four primary daily transitions with your partner, think about how you can make them feel connected and significant. Try this trick from Mary Kay Ash:  She said, “Whenever I meet someone, I try to imagine her wearing an invisible sign that says MAKE ME FEEL IMPORTANT. I respond to this sign immediately and it works every time.” Imagine if you used this trick when you first see your spouse in the morning, or when they first walk through the door after work each day.  Do whatever it takes to make them feel important, and I promise, the tone of your relationship will instantly feel better. Do this at EVERY transition of the day, and you’ll feel more connected as a couple. Here are a few more tips for generating feelings of significance and connection in each of your transitions throughout the day:  Now serving Edmond Through Edmond Marriage Counseling.

Tip #2: Kiss & Hug!  Throw a few extra seconds into your kisses and hugs to let your partner know you don’t take them for granted.  Consider Romans 16:16, which says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss”. Make your kiss holy! Muah!

Tip #3: Pray together at one (or more) of the transitions.  Praying together as a couple is the most intimate thing you can do with your clothes on!  Now serving Edmond Through Edmond Marriage Counseling.

Tip #4: Use a pet name.  “Goodnight, Babe” always feels better than a simple “Goodnight”.  Now serving Edmond Through Edmond Marriage Counseling.

Tip #5: The “Hello again” might be the most important transition!  (This is when you return home to each other after a day away at work or being apart for any reason.)  Make this a big deal! Greet your partner in a way that is meaningful and communicates that you’re happy to see them, even on days when you’re not feeling up to it!  (Half the battle of marriage is meeting your partner’s needs even when you don’t feel like it. Do it! It matters and it’s a game-changer!). Now serving Edmond Through Edmond Marriage Counseling.

Tip #6: Don’t take your transitions for granted.  This one is easier said than done. However, we all know that we can’t guarantee our next breath, so don’t pretend that you can guarantee your next transition with your spouse.  Say “Good Morning” and “Goodbye” like it’s the last one! Now serving Edmond Through Edmond Marriage Counseling.

One of my favorite words is “intentional”, because it suggests that we are actively and deliberately living our life instead of just allowing it to happen.  Be intentional in your relationships! Be intentional about daily transitions with your partner! Greet them with purpose and leave them with love. These are nurturing ingredients for a lasting connection!  Now serving Edmond Through Edmond Marriage Counseling.

Summer Smith is a therapist at New Vision Counseling & Consulting.  A place where help you discover what better looks like for you and equip  you with the tools to create it.

Walking through the halls of a church a few years ago I saw a poster for a class and in big letters it said, “It’s Complicated” and then in smaller letters, “A class on relationships.” This struck me because while I know relationships are complicated, I wondered how much we complicate them unnecessarily.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist I see daily how complicated relationships can be, but I also see how complicated we can make our relationships. My goal is to help people avoid unnecessarily complicating their relationships, and I came up with three ways we do this.
The first way we complicate things in relationships is by trying to take responsibility for the other person in our relationship. We take responsibility for their emotions, their happiness, their time, etc., and what begins as a well-meaning attempt to make their lives better quickly turns into an impossible task. What happens when all your attempts fail to keep your partner or child or family member happy? Usually you try harder and harder until you finally realize you can’t do it! You can’t control another human being and it gets complicated!

Here’s how to simplify this: Remember that you have a responsibility to the other person, not for the other person Your responsibility is for yourself, but not for the other person. You bring your best to the relationship, but you can’t take over for the other person. Sounds simple, and it is, but putting it in to practice can be challenging. Why? Because you have to give up control of the other person. You have to allow them to feel and think and behave so they can grow, and you might not like the way they do it.

To give you an illustration, I received a questionnaire back that I sent a prospective client who stated his main problem was that his wife was unhappy. When he answered the question, “What have you tried to do to solve your problem?”, he wrote me a list of about 20 things he had tried to do to make his wife happy and they had all failed. Now, he was very resentful of his wife because she was not changing and he felt helpless. No matter what he did, she was still unhappy! Through therapy he learned how to quit taking responsibility for her and start taking responsibility for himself and focus on his responsibility to her—to support her, to listen to her, to cherish her. Then, he was able to make the changes in himself that he needed to and it took a ton of pressure off his wife to be happy for him and she was able to express what she needed and what she was feeling.

The second way we complicate our relationships is by putting all of our needs in one relationship. I read and research a lot about marriage and here’s one of the biggest things coming up: we now expect more out of our marriages than ever before. Why? Because for most of history marriage was mainly about personal, financial, and social stability of those involved, especially for women. Being passionately in love with someone was not a prerequisite or an expectation for marriage like it is now. In the United Staes in 2019, marriage is not seen as a means for economic stability but as a means for emotional stability, romance, and growth. Of those, our culture really pushes for romance and passion as the most important facets of marriage.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, it is just a new thing. Now, one of the most important qualities for a man is to be emotional stable and connected. Can you see the problem, here? What have men been historically and socially trained to avoid, see as pointless, or not deal with? You guessed it, emotion! Men are having to learn how to be emotional after be told for so long not to be. This is not an excuse for men, but a reality to face and a place for men to grow.

Another consequence of this change has been men and women having less friendships outside their marriage. Men and women are having to learn how to be husband and wife, best friend, confidant, lover, and emotional supporter all at the same time. That’s a tall order! Having close same-sex relationships, something I believe is very important for people and marriages, is becoming less and less common as we lean on our spouses to be our best friends. We need more friends than just our spouse to be healthy in life.

To simplify this one, you need to make sure you are not putting all your needs on your partner and make sure you have other people that you are close to and that you can go to for friendship and support. As a man I need other men in my life who can listen to me and can support me when I am struggling as a man or husband. I do not need to put all this on my wife—I’ve tried and she just gets stressed and resentful. She does not need to be my only support. What makes a marriage complicated is trying to switch between lover, supporter, protector, friend, advisor, etc., all the time. It is important have a best friend outside your marriage to help balance this, and this friend needs to be of the same gender who strongly supports your marriage.

For women, I do not envy you. I believe many women have been raised in so much competition and distrust with each other that it can feel really vulnerable to be close with other women. There is a reason the Mean Girls type movies exist. I’ve talked to my wife and other women about this and have heard how difficult it can be to not feel judged by other women. However, there are ways other women can support you and hear you and love you that your husband cannot.

The third way we complicate relationships is by not truly listening to each other. Listening is a lost art, and so few of us do it well. I believe if we would listen and really try to understand each other, we would have a lot less problems (I’d venture to say at least 75% less).

I’ll be the first to confess I struggle listening. As much as I teach it to others, I still struggle to hold back my thoughts before I really understand someone. Listening takes serious effort while talking is so easy to do. We have a term we therapists like to call active listening, which means to listen with the intent to understand someone else and to give verbal and non-verbal feedback that we are listening. Listening is not a passive action, but an intentional act.

To simplify this, learn to listen. Practicing giving someone else your ears and not taking over the conversation or jumping in before you really understand them. Ask questions about what the other person is saying and take time to listen to them. I don’t know about you, but when I feel like someone is truly listening to me, I feel honored and comfortable and valued.

One of my greatest joys in life is to help others find more joy and passion in their lives so they can live amazing lives. I love helping people simplify and uncomplicated their relationships so they can love more fully and more completely. If you would like to work with me, you can contact me at New Vision Counseling at (405) 921-7776.

In addition, we have other great therapists at New Vision that are more than happy to help you on the same journey. I encourage you to seek out help if you are feeling like you are in a place you don’t want to be emotionally or spiritually, whether that is in your individual life or in your relationships. Please reach out and let us help you discover what better looks like for you and then equip you with the tools to create it. We can be reached at (405) 921-7776 or go to NewVisionCounseling.live to find out more.

3 Practical Steps for Renewing Your Mind

Posted by Shawn on  April 15, 2019

Category: Uncategorized

By Misty Tafao

We all struggle with negative thoughts. However, it is what we do with those thoughts that matter. It becomes a problem when we allow ourselves to maintain negative thoughts. When we are constantly thinking negatively, it can impact our mental, physical, and spiritual health, as well as have impacts on other areas of life.

If you struggle with depression and/or anxiety, your negative thoughts feed them and create a greater manifestation of symptoms. Scripture tells us not to worry or be anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6). When we allow ourselves to be overcome with anxiety, we are exalting our thoughts (pretension) above God’s word. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we can “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” It is highly likely that your negative thoughts are contradicting the truth of God’s word, and God instructs us on how to handle it.

Satan is aware of the significance of what goes on in our minds. He knows how much power our thoughts have over our emotions and behaviors. If we do not take control of our thoughts, our thoughts can control us. As we take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, we are less likely to be conformed to the patterns of this world, and instead we can be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). Many of us wonder, “How do you ‘renew’ your mind?” I am going to share with you 3 practical steps that you can use to begin renewing your mind immediately.

1. Catch it. Catch your thought. As I mentioned before, 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take our thoughts captive; this is where it starts. We cannot change what we do not know, so it is important to begin identifying your thoughts, which are made up of statements or images. When we start catching our thoughts, we can identify which ones are harmful to us and contrary to Scripture. People do not generally think about what they are thinking about, so in the beginning this might seem a bit difficult, but it will get easier with time. I want to encourage you to keep identifying your thoughts. You are building a new skill! Start a thought log. It will be helpful to jot down thoughts as you catch them. While tracking your thoughts, use your emotions as an alarm to alert you to pay attention to what you are thinking. If you are feeling stressed, disappointed, angry etc., take a minute to notice your thoughts. What are you telling yourself?

2. Check it. Once you have identified your thought, you can check it by analyzing evidence to determine if your thought is true. Your evidence can include many different elements, and the more you have the better. You can use experiences as evidence. For example, if your thought tells you that you are not good at anything, consider the things you are good at doing (ie. good grades, good parenting, good cook, good at sports). If you make a list of the things that you do well, it disputes the idea that you are not good at anything. Another form of evidence is Scripture. Compare your thoughts with what the Bible says, for we know that if it contradicts Scripture it is a lie.

3. Change it. After you come to the realization that your thought is untrue, it is important to change it. This is where you make the thoughts obedient to Christ. If Scripture tells you that your thought is a lie, use what Scripture says as your truth. Begin speaking that truth out loud over yourself. Write it down. You can also hang it up somewhere so that you see it often and can be reminded. Memorize the Scripture and meditate on it. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the word of God is alive and active.” It is ALIVE and ACTIVE! That means when God’s word is within us, it is not simply lying dormant, it is judging the thoughts and attitudes of our heart and making changes that we cannot make on our own.
By using these 3 steps consistently, you will begin renewing your mind. You will see changes in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is going to be challenging, but if you stick with it, you will see the fruit! If you find that you are struggling with your thought life and need some additional help, we here at New Vision Counseling and Consulting in OKC and Edmond OK would love to come along side you in your journey of transformation.

Creed, T. A., Reisweber, J., & Beck, A. T. (2011). Cognitive therapy for adolescents in school settings. New York: Guilford Press

3 Ways to Renew Yourself Daily

Posted by Shawn on  April 15, 2019

Category: Uncategorized

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

Do you ever find yourself getting up in the morning and feeling like it is just another day? Same bed, same shower, same thoughts, same job, same clothes… It’s easy to get stuck on autopilot where the date changes, but nothing else really seems to change. It’s almost as if you are living one long day.

Sometimes you might even start the day strong, but once you get into your daily routine find yourself depleted or tired and in need of a pick-me-up. I wonder if that’s part of the reason the Starbuck’s drive-thru near my house is just as busy in the afternoon as it is in the morning.

In fact, many of us live our lives this way and we forget that each day is a new day with new possibilities and opportunities. We need to renew ourselves daily so we can experience life each day and experience God’s mercies that are new every morning.

Here are three ways you can renew yourself daily:

  • Create a renewing morning ritual. Roosters crow, the neighbor’s dog barks, birds chirp, and what do we do? Slowly roll out of bed, moan, and drag ourselves to the bathroom. Not too inspiring, is it? Create a morning ritual that wakes you up and gets you excited. I realize the non-morning people may have just rolled their eyes! This may be a morning prayer or a morning meditation that you do first thing when you wake up. You could also have a motto you say upon rising, like “I’m awake, what a gift to be alive today!” Or you could jump out of bed and say, “Thank you!” On a more morbid note, there are a lot of people (an estimated 150,000 according to quora.com) in the world that did not wake up this morning, and we forget that just waking up is worth some thanksgiving. For you crazy people out there like me, jump in a cold shower for a few seconds (of course, consult your doctor if you have any medical conditions that could be affected by this like heart problems). This will really wake you up and it delivers some adrenaline to get you going.
  • Change your breathing. One of the easiest and best ways we know to help renew ourselves at any time of the day is to take deep breaths! If you are like me, you rarely stop and think, “How am I breathing today?” If you are stressed out your breathing is usually shallower and you are anticipating something you are more than likely holding your breath more than you realize. Our breathing is part of what communicates to our body what’s going on around us (is it safe out there or not?), so it’s important to remind our bodies that it’s safe and okay to grow and live well. I recommend taking at least 2-3 breaks during the day and taking six deep breaths (inhale through the nose and exhale out the mouth, if possible). Sometimes I will have clients do this in session to reset and get into a more relaxed state. Even with a few deep breaths a lot of tension can be released.
  • Connect with God and others in a meaningful way. Even as an introvert, I find that if I stay in my own little world all day and don’t reach out and have meaningful connection in a day, I feel isolated and less energetic. Making sure I have a conversation, even if brief, with someone that I enjoy, can help renew and strengthen me during the day. I believe it has something to do with feeling part of something greater than myself. Take some time each day to have a renewing conversation with someone. If you are married, I hope you are in a marriage where you can have meaningful conversation and share life. When reading the Bible it seems clear that we were created to live in community with others and that in community we are at our most powerful. Also, and maybe even more important, is connecting with God in a meaningful way each day. Pray, meditation, thanksgiving, praise—find a way each day to connect with God past just the prayers at meals or in moments of desperation. As Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Today, try these way to renew yourself. Who knows what might happen with some renewed energy and purpose in your day! Get out of the monotony of life and wake yourself up to the world of possibility that is around you, even in difficult circumstances. Give your anxieties and worries to God and experience the life you were called to live.

One of my greatest joys in life is to help others find more joy and passion in their lives so they can live amazing lives. I love helping people break the patterns that are breaking them and keeping them from experiencing what life and their walk with Christ has to offer. You can contact me at New Vision Counseling if you would like to work with me.

In addition, we have other great therapists at New Vision that are more than happy to help you on the same journey. I encourage you to seek out help if you are feeling like you are in a place you don’t want to be emotionally or spiritually, whether that is in your individual life or in your relationships. Please reach out and get on your journey to better living and relating to yourself and others. We can be reached at (405) 921-7776.

Renew Your Vows

Posted by Shawn on  April 15, 2019

Category: Uncategorized

Vows with Power: Adding Commitments to Your Marriage After the New Wears Off
By: Summer Smith, LCSW

March 18th, 2018 was one of the most special days of my life. I stood in a beautiful chapel, in front of my family and friends, and exchanged vows with the man of my dreams. The week before, I took my time and wrote a paragraph full of meaningful promises that I felt were most important in the success of our marriage. As our very first anniversary approaches, I’ve learned that those promises were indeed meaningful, but I could have said so many more specific, purposeful things that might have drawn a clearer road map for our happily ever after. For example, I could have said, “I promise I will do the dishes when you cook the dinner”. I could have vowed, “I will take the kids to school if you will pick them up” or “I will hold your hand at every opportunity”. As I’m writing this, my knight in shining armor is in the kitchen, on his third, excruciating hour of assembling a filing cabinet for my new office. Perhaps one of his more constructive vows on our wedding day might have been, “I commit to assembling whatever you order on Amazon without cursing at it or destroying it in the process”. That one might have come in handy this evening, though I must say, the filing cabinet is in tact and I never heard any four-letter-words that weren’t printed on the instructions. I’m so proud!

It’s no secret that marriage in reality is drastically different than the expectation we had at the altar. However, if we approach it the right way, it can be far better than we imagined! Here are some ideas for updating your vows and renewing your marriage, no matter how long you’ve been in it!

Identify Your Problem Areas

If you’ve got even a few months of marriage under your belt, chances are you’ve already noticed some problem areas. Perhaps your spouse has an annoying habit that used to be cute but is now overwhelming. Maybe you’re learning that when your husband is upset with you, he shuts down or that your wife uses critical language to influence the behavior she wants from you. It’s possible one of you has inadvertently taken on the role of initiating sex, but is starting to feel resentful that the sex is never initiated by your spouse. Whatever the less-than-ideal areas in your partnership, big or small, identify them with your spouse and then begin open discussion with ideas for improvement.

Replace Vague with Specific

On our wedding day, we said “For better or worse, for richer or poorer”, but what exactly does worse mean for you and your spouse? What is rich in your book and what is poor in hers? As you begin to identify the problem areas in your marriage, explore very specific strategies for improvement. Instead of saying, “I will try to touch you more often”, say “I will kiss you every morning before I leave and hug you every day when I return home.” Instead of, “I’ll be more mindful of our budget”, try promising, “I will not make a purchase over $300 without consulting you first.” Specific, measurable commitments give us a clear path to follow and leave less room for interpretation. These types of promises are easy to execute and make it easy to know whether you did or did not deliver!

Some Templates to Get You Started

If a blank slate seems too daunting, consider some of these pre-written promises to get your wheels turning. I surveyed multiple married people who shared some of their current problem areas. From those, I created some phrases that might give rise to resolution. Some of these are from my own marriage and have been incredibly helpful. It’s so refreshing to have some specific, measurable rules for navigating this love game we play together every day! Feel free to adopt any of these or get creative with your own!

I will pray out loud with you every day before we leave for work.

When you are talking to me, I will put my phone down and give you my full attention.

I will communicate when I’m angry or hurting instead of shutting down or shutting you out.

I will not argue with you in front of our kids.

I will initiate sex with you at least once a week.

When I need or want help with a task, I will ask for help out loud (and specifically) instead of expecting you to pick up on my cues and read my mind.

I will not watch pornography, because our sex life is sacred and even visual images of others is a violation of what we have.

Even though I’ve taken the role of bill-paying, I will discuss our budget and financial status with you every week (on this scheduled day & time).

I will not put myself in a high-risk situation, because our marriage is a treasure that must be protected and cherished. (Discuss what you each believe to be “high risk” situations.)

I will not make big plans or decisions that affect our household without at least a phone call or discussion with you.

I will give you two compliments or affirmations per day, because I know that is important to you.

I will reach out and touch you a minimum of three times per day, no matter what mood I’m in.

I will make a point to participate in things that are important to you, even if they are of no interest to me.

If I’m going to be late, I will call you.

I will ask you on a date every single week.

If I’ve had a bad day at work, I will stop at the front door and say a prayer before I come inside, asking God to restore my positive attitude so my family doesn’t suffer the consequences.

Say Your New Vows Out Loud

After you’ve discussed your problem areas and settled on some specific strategies for improvement, schedule some alone time with your spouse and say these new promises out loud. Take each other by the hand and sincerely declare your commitment to changing these things. Take an additional step and write them down somewhere, so that you can revisit them regularly and make sure they remain in the front of your mind! Even better, consider posting them somewhere that you’ll see them every day, like the dash of your car or on your bathroom mirror. (Those folks who created the wall art that says “Always kiss me goodnight” were on to something!)

Consider Professional Help

If you set out on this journey with good intentions, but suddenly the discussion about problem areas turns into an all-out brawl about why you even got married in the first place or “If you think I’m so critical, then I’ll just stop talking to you altogether!”, then it’s possible you could benefit from a mediator of sorts. Often times in relationships, our personal insecurities, emotional “baggage” or past trauma make it difficult for us to accept constructive feedback because it invokes shame or triggers subconscious issues we didn’t even know where there. We are a product of our experiences. Our childhood relationships, no matter how healthy, can shape the way we interact with our spouse. Past, unhealthy romantic relationships can play a role in our interpersonal functioning as well. The same goes for long-term patterns of unhealthy behavior in your current relationship that have gone unchecked. If any of these things are interrupting your ability to productively renew your relationship, then don’t hesitate to call a professional marriage counselor. A third party navigator with expertise in human behavior and relationships can be a game-changer! If you’re not yet married, but plan to be soon, call a marriage counselor for pre-marital counseling. This is an amazing way to set specific rules and expectations before you even get started!

Treat Your Marriage Like a Treasure

Finally, remember that your marriage is sacred. It is important. It deserves protection. Matthew 19:6 says, “They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate”. Specific rules and procedures should be in place to prevent the loss or destruction of this treasure of yours. You place your valuables in a safe and your money in a bank. How will you protect your most sacred union? Write the procedures for that today!