How to Find New Purpose After Losing Your Faith

For people of faith, their belief system is an important aspect of their life and who they are as a person. It could be a faith that was cultivated in them since they were a child, or one that they found on their own in adulthood. However we find our faith, as we move through the world and experience life, we inevitably come upon trials that test our beliefs.

If you’ve come to a point in your life where you no longer hold on to traditional beliefs, or your religious teachings have been challenged and you no longer believe in them, you might wonder how you can create renewed meaning in your life that will fill the void left by your loss of faith.

Find Healing
When you lose your faith, you go through a process of grieving. How deep the grieving is depends largely on how ingrained faith was in your life. If losing your faith means losing friends and regular gatherings, it can be very difficult to heal. You can heal through this loss by finding a friend to talk to; particularly one who has experienced a similar loss. Talk to like-minded people online, through a support group, or with a licensed therapist.

Find Peace
Finding peace is another important aspect in moving forward after losing your faith. It will help greatly to quiet your mind, and stop from dwelling on the past. Thinking about how you lost time by believing something you no longer believe in, or thinking about how you were lied to growing up will only bring you discomfort and inner turmoil. Quiet your mind through meditation, cooking, crafting, gardening or a long walk through the woods, concentrating only on things you can see, hear, smell, and touch. You can also try donating your time through volunteer work, or helping out a friend or loved one in need with some simple tasks.

Find Meaning
After a loss of faith, you must find new direction for your life. As the lyrics go to an old song, “the best things in life are free.” Paradoxically, you’ll find that the best way to find new meaning is to simply enjoy the little things in life. Enjoying the breeze during a walk in the park, feeling wet sand between your toes as you take a stroll along the beach, savoring wine with friends in front of an open fire.

When you’ve lost your faith, it might feel as though your life no longer has meaning. The truth is, you’ve just lost your way a bit. The road you were on may have closed, but the directions haven’t changed.

 

Are you struggling with your loss of faith, and need guidance and encouragement to move forward? A licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule a time to talk.

 

You Are Not Alone: Finding Support as a Male Sexual Abuse Survivor

On an almost daily basis we hear stories of female sexual harassment and abuse in the media. Sadly, male sexual abuse is fairly common, but the issue is underreported by the media and society in general.

One US-based study found that 1 in 6 boys experience some form of sexual abuse by the age of 18. Other research suggests the ratio may be as high as 1 in 4.

Why is this conduct not reported more often?

To start, most men are embarrassed to be the victim of sexual abuse, particularly when it is perpetrated by other men. In our culture, men are supposed to be invulnerable and not feel emotional pain. In other words, guys are supposed to be the strong, silent type. It simply goes against the silent rules of being a man to acknowledge trauma and admit that you are suffering.

As a result, male victims of sexual abuse shove their feelings down and deny what happened. This repression of experience and emotion can and often does lead to isolation, anger, sadness, shame, guilt, and fear. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), major depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are also common among victims of male sexual abuse.

It’s important to get help.

 

If you are the victim of sexual abuse, understand that you are far from alone. As the topic becomes more mainstream, there is less judgement by those who don’t understand how a man could be victimized in such a way. Education regarding male sexual abuse and demystifying misconceptions surrounding rape is essential to help male survivors heal and speak out.

While more needs to be done to bring this subject to mass awareness, it’s important that individual victims seek support. A therapist will be able to help you deal with your complex emotions and offer strategies to move through and past feelings of depression and anxiety. In time, healing can and does occur.

If you or someone you know is a male victim of sexual abuse and would like to discuss treatment options, please get in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

How to Address a Coworker’s Sexist Behavior or Comments

With movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, more attention has been given to sexual misconduct and harassment in the workplace and world in general. If you are the target of a coworker’s sexist behavior or comments, here’s how you can address it in a professional yet clear manner:

Find Your Voice

While I know it seems unlikely, there is always the small chance a coworker may not know the remarks he sometimes makes are viewed as sexist or negative in any way. In other words, they’re more ignorant or lacking self-awareness than they are a purposeful aggressor. Be sure to speak up and share your thoughts and feelings, letting the offender know his offensive behavior is not appreciated. While you may feel anger or other strong feelings inside, try to be a bigger person than your coworker. Instead of using an outburst (as warranted as it may feel), focus on clear communication as a first step toward resolving the issue.

Treat the Guilty Party Like a Child

Often the guilty party is not an evil person hellbent on making your life miserable. They are simply thoughtless and have a different point of view as you. When they let a sexist comment fly or act inappropriately, try to react as you would to a misbehaving child who doesn’t have the context to understand his own actions. Don’t get mad – point out the behavior, make it clear it is unacceptable, and move on with business like the professional you are.

Say “No” More

Are you often asked to take notes during a meeting or be the one to go for the coffee and muffin run? Does it feel like this is because your mostly-male coworkers think those kinds of tasks are women’s work?

It is your right to say ‘no’ more often. For example, you can say something like, “I took notes the last couple of meetings, how about Frank does it this week?” or “I’m happy to be a team player, as I’m sure all of you are, so how about someone else get the coffee this week as I’ve done it the past three times.” Again, it’s important to speak calmly and factually.

Document Everything

It’s possible that all of your efforts may do little to dissuade the guilty party or parties. In these instances, it’s important that you document all the offensive incidents, what was said and by whom, and the day and date. Make copies for yourself and head to HR with a copy.

Follow Up

If no ramifications or corrections of behavior occur, follow up with your HR department to determine what measures they plan to take. Stay the course and see it through to the end to make sure the message is clear – that message being sexist comments and behavior will NOT be tolerated.

 

If you are a victim of sexual misconduct and would like to speak to someone about it, please be in touch. I would be happy to discuss how I might be able to help.


Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minding-memory/201712/sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/we-can-get-along/201412/how-reduce-sexism-the-latest-research

https://www.newsweek.com/seven-practical-ways-combat-workplace-sexism-feminist-fight-club-498751

https://www.careeraddict.com/workplace-sexism

Why Setting a Strong Female Role Model is Important for Your Daughter

Every Halloween, little girls all over the country choose costumes that reflect what they want to be when they grow up. And each year we see many girls choosing to dress as princesses and fairies, kitty cats and maybe the odd super hero. Rarely do we see young girls dressing as executives, scientists, or world leaders.

It can seem benign enough, but it does beg the question: are young girls still under the impression their choices in life are limited? And what can parents, particularly mothers, do to set a good example?

The Importance of Role Models

If you are a runner, you probably know that for most of human history no one was able to run the 4-minute mile. In 1940, someone actually got to 4:01, and for nine years that is where the record stayed, with not one runner in the entire world being able to break it.

It seemed to everyone that the human body, no matter how fit and trained, would never be able to break that record. But then on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute barrier, running the distance in 3:59.4.

And then a very interesting thing happened: barely a year after this feat, someone else ran a mile under 4 minutes, and then more runners did it, and then even more. Now it’s common practice for runners to run the mile in under 4 minutes.

Role models show others what is possible, and that’s powerful. Humans tend to not attempt things unless we believe it can be accomplished.

Our children learn from watching us. They learn how to think, act, and feel about themselves and the world around them. Here are some ways mothers can set a strong female role model for their daughters:

Body Image

It’s important for mothers to encourage their daughters to be healthy and strong, but not to obsess over beauty. It’s not enough to talk the talk, moms have got to take care of their bodies and health and accept themselves as they are.

Boundaries

Unless they are shown otherwise, young girls may grow up assuming they must constantly please others and never say no. Moms, it’s important to show your daughters that setting boundaries is healthy and necessary.

Confidence

Confidence comes from a mindset that failure and mistakes are merely chances to learn. It also comes from knowing strengths and abilities as well as limitations. In other words, confidence is a byproduct of knowing and accepting our true selves.

 

Are you having a hard time being the role model you’d like to be? Maybe you’re a stressed-out single parent who could use some coping strategies. If you’d like to speak with someone, please be in touch. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.


Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/our-gender-ourselves/201205/female-role-models-the-absent-conversation

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/thinking-about-kids/201205/i-could-do-why-role-models-matter

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/beauty-sick/201705/gift-mothers-daughters

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fixing-families/201402/9-ways-be-the-best-role-model-you-can-be

https://www.nomeatathlete.com/4-minute-mile-certainty/

How to Tell Your Partner About Your Past Sexual Abuse

Relationships always start out on a high note. Your mutual attraction combined with your commonalities stirs up your feelings, while finding out about your differences and exploring the world together makes your relationship fresh and exciting. When your relationship starts to become more intimate, you may start to wonder when the right time is for you to open up to your partner about your past sexual abuse.

Being a survivor of sexual assault is, unfortunately, not uncommon. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in three women and one in six men in the United States experience some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. So when is the right time to open up to your partner about your past, and how do you tell them?

Be Ready
It’s important as a survivor that you are in control of when you share your story. Center yourself around your own needs and share only when you’re ready, and not before. You may need to discuss it first with a therapist, counselor, friend or support group.

Know What You Need
Know in advance what you’ll need to get through this discussion. You may need your partner to not ask questions, or to not touch you while you’re talking. Be honest and upfront, and ask for support when you need it.

Prepare for a Response
How people respond to your story will vary widely. Hearing sexual abuse disclosures affect both the person telling the story, as well as the person listening. Your partner may be silent for a while as they take the information and consider what to say. Give them time to process it. If it will make you more comfortable, you can ask them to give you some time before you discuss the matter again.

 

Opening up and discussing difficult, sensitive topics with your partner is never easy. But these challenging times are often the ones that create milestones in your relationship, and will ultimately bring the two of you closer than ever.

Are you a sexual assault survivor and in need of guidance and counseling? A licensed therapist can help. Call my office today and let’s set up a time to talk.

How Meditation Can Help Manage Symptoms of Trauma

Meditation offers practitioners powerful benefits, yet many people are confused as to what exactly those benefits are. In a nutshell, meditation focuses attention in a deliberate manner, taking you from a state of noisy mental chatter to calm and quiet inner peace. And isn’t that something most of us could use?

While meditation has been practiced for thousands of years in the east and – more recently – west as a way to grow spiritually, modern medicine is now finally extolling the numerous health benefits that meditation offers.

Meditation has the ability to reduce stress hormones by calming the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. These systems are what activate our main panic responses (“fight,” “flight,” “freeze,” or “friend”) to stressful situations. Because of this, meditation can be a wonderful coping strategy for those suffering with trauma.

Is Meditation Better than Medication

Historically, people battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been given medication to help alleviate unwanted and unpleasant symptoms. But a new study has found that regular practice of meditation enables some active duty service members battling PTSD to reduce, or even eliminate their need of psychotropic medications and to better control their often-debilitating symptoms.

This is great news for service men and women, and anyone who is battling PTSD. Not only can meditation help to calm your nerves and rewire your brain, it can also reduce the risk of developing negative side effects to many psychotropic medications used to treat PTSD and anxiety disorders. Beyond memory loss and erectile dysfunction, one of the biggest side effects of these medications is depression. That’s the last thing a person suffering from PTSD needs.

How to Begin a Meditation Practice

If you are suffering from the effects of trauma and would like to try meditation, here are some steps you can take to get started:

Find a Group Practice

If you’re completely new to meditation, you may want to join a group meditation course that meets every week. You can usually find groups in your local area through online communities such as Meetup.com.

Be Open Minded

Meditation has long been associated with new age movements. But you would be amazed at the different kinds of people that now practice meditation. If you tend to be a skeptical person, try to have an open mind as you begin your practice.

Be Patient

It’s called a practice for a reason. You won’t “get” meditation overnight. You’ll have to keep at it before it becomes natural for you and you really reap the benefits. Try to have patience and just keep at it.

 

If you or a loved one are suffering from trauma symptoms and would like to speak with someone who can help, please get in touch with me. I’d be happy to discuss the treatment options that would work best for you.


Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201601/meditation-reduces-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-symptoms

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201306/how-does-meditation-reduce-anxiety-neural-level

https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/01/13/transcendental-meditation-shown-to-ease-veterans-ptsd/131167.html 

When to Worry: Recognizing Signs of Trauma in Your Loved Ones

Over the past several years, there have been numerous traumatic events all across the country. From incidents of mass violence to devastating natural disasters, hundreds of thousands of Americans have experienced or witnessed a disastrous or life-threatening event. In addition to tragedies such as these, anyone who has experienced a shocking or dangerous incident (such as a car accident or a robbery) is at risk of developing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

PTSD is a serious mental disorder that requires medical treatment. PTSD can have devastating effects on every aspect of a person’s life, from their marriage and family, to their friendships and career. If you’re concerned that a loved one may be suffering from PTSD, here are some signs to look out for.

Reliving the Trauma

Someone with PTSD will have repeated, involuntary re-experiences of the event. They may experience bad dreams or flashbacks. They’re also vulnerable to certain triggers that remind them of what happened, such as sounds or smells.

Angry Outbursts

Someone silently suffering from trauma may be prone to anger, agitation, or sadness. Feeling irritable, the sufferer may be prone to outbursts of anger that they can’t control. If you’ve noticed your loved one frequently losing control and lashing out in anger, this is a sign that they’re suffering emotionally and require treatment.

Withdrawal

People suffering from PTSD will avoid people and situations that are reminders of the situation. As the victim continues to isolate themselves, how their friends and family react to their withdrawal will likely further isolate them, causing additional emotional distress.

Substance Abuse

It’s not uncommon for people with PTSD to self-medicate. Seeking an escape from high levels of stress and difficult emotions, they may turn to drugs or alcohol. The painful trademark of substance abuse is the growing need for more of the drug to produce the same high. If left untreated, as substance abuse grows, the abuse will turn to addiction and eventually dependence. This can have devastating effects on every facet of a person’s life.

 

If you’re concerned that a loved one is experiencing symptoms of trauma, the most important think you can do is encourage them to seek professional diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. You can help by contacting offices and vetting therapists on their behalf, and volunteer to take them to an appointment. Assure them of your love and support throughout the process.

For additional guidance and recommendations from a licensed professional, call my office today.

4 Subtle Signs of Trauma: When You’re Dealing with More Than You Think

When you think about someone experiencing trauma, incidents such as a violent or sexual assault or a terrible car accident might come to mind. But there are other, subtler forms of trauma that can negatively affect our lives and hinder our relationships.

Emotional trauma is often overlooked and minimized, and we may think we’ve “gotten over” some emotional pain that we’ve simply buried, and not dealt with. A break up, being passed over for a promotion at work or even a simple but negative childhood experience can cause emotional trauma. Read on to see if you recognize any of these four subtle signs of trauma in yourself.

Overwhelm

Anxiety and stress may develop in the aftermath of trauma, causing you to feel overwhelmed in numerous ways. You might feel out of control, like there is too much to do, or that people in your life are taking up too much of your time and attention. If you often feel as though your life has become unmanageable, this could be a sign that you have some unresolved emotional trauma.

Overreacting

Emotional overreactions are a common symptom of trauma. A victim of trauma might redirect their overwhelming emotions towards others, such as family and friends. Because these undealt with emotions are always bubbling under the surface, any incident that brings feelings forward can unleash these pent-up emotions. If you can recall times when you’ve overreacted, and perhaps have even been surprised at your own reactions, this may be a sign of trauma.

Shame

It’s not uncommon for people suffering from emotional trauma to have feelings of shame and self-blame. If you have feelings of shame because of a traumatic event, you may devalue yourself or see yourself as weak. You might feel a stigma from what you endured, and this may prevent you from admitting that you may be traumatized, or prevent you from seeking help.

Daydreaming

Another subtle sign of trauma is “zoning” or “spacing out.” You might feel disconnected from others or have difficulty staying present in social situations. Emotional trauma can cause you to slow down internally, numbing your emotions or causing you to feel exhaust. Because of the trauma you experienced, you may be averse to the expression of painful emotions, so you turn those emotions off. As you withdraw, your relationships with others suffer, causing you further psychological pain.

If these signs seem familiar and you believe you may be suffering from trauma, help is available. A caring, licensed professional trained in trauma treatment can help. Take the first step by giving me a call today, and let’s set up a time to talk.