from the heart
a blog designed to promote help, hope, healing
Our world often feels non-stop. We all have a million and one things that we can be doing at any point in time. For some of us, it can be hard to justify taking time for ourselves when we have so many other things that we can be doing.
We are human beings with a finite amount of energy. What we chose to spend that energy on is important. We make daily choices about where we are going to put our focus, our energy, our time. The concept of self-care easily gets lost in that shuffle.
Self-care is doing things for our own mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Self-care are the activities that go into making us feel more filled instead of more emptied. For those of you that feel yourself empty by the end of the day, self-care might be an important thing missing in your routine.
For those of you who were taught to put others first and to take care of everyone around you, self-care can feel selfish or counter intuitive. Why spend time taking care of me when there is so much that needs to be done?
The truth is that self-care is designed to be energizing. It is hard to do our best work when we are tired and drained. Self care is a way to recenter and rejuvenate ourselves. Giving ourselves the appropriate amount of rest is important to our daily ministry. Jesus performed miracles and even he took time to rest. In fact, he took some time with his disciples to rest before performing his miracle of feeding five thousand.
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”” - Mark 6:30-31
Take some time to identify how you’re feeling today. Have you had a chance to eat? To sleep? To exercise? To spend some time with your Savior in a quiet place and to get some rest? Don’t forget to take care of yourself so that you can be re-energized to do amazing things!
I spent a lot of my life not being the best listener. I cared about what other people had to say. I cared a little bit more about letting myself be heard. Maybe this is exclusively a “me” problem but I get the feeling that I'm not the only one having a hard time really listening.
Many of us go throughout our days feeling unheard by those around us. Sometimes we have to be assertive in order to be heard by others. And some of us may fall on the other end of the spectrum. The side where we appear to be listening, but we aren’t really hearing. This might look like nodding our heads as our friend is sharing about their lives (while thinking about our grocery lists).
My job as a counselor involves a huge amount of listening. It is important that people feel heard when they are sitting in front of me and sharing their stories. But I didn’t wake up one day suddenly a good listener. I practiced so that I could be better. I got better because I want the people in my life to feel heard and feel important.
How can we make sure people know we are truly hearing what they are saying? How can we make our significant others, our children, our friends, our small group at church feel heard and understood?
1. Be mindful and present. This is maybe one of the hardest things to do but the most important. If someone is talking to us we have to be present. That means pushing away the distractions, putting down our cell phone and truly being in the moment. Look at the person who is speaking and give them your full attention.
2. Be aware of “one-upping.” This is so easy to do and usually the person doing it usually doesn’t have bad intentions. Someone tells a story and we have one that relates so closely to theirs that we want to share. However, this can leave someone feeling ignored and like their story was not fully appreciated.
3. Say thank you. I always try to treat the words that are shared with me as a gift. Sharing your life with someone is huge! Being vulnerable is hard to do. If someone is willing to be vulnerable with you, honor the gift that they gave you. Even a simple “thank you so much for choosing to share that with me,” can go a long way.
4. Remember what you hear. A good gauge of whether you’re listening to something is what you remember. If someone tells you something that is important to them make that thing important to you. We can love on the people around us by remembering the things that are on their hearts and on their mind.
Maybe you’re living on the other side of this. Maybe you don’t feel heard by the people in your life. What you have to say is valuable and important. I hope that we are all able to find the people in our lives who we can be vulnerable with. Connection is so important and connection begins with listening to the stories that we all have to share.
Fear. Anger. Frustration. Terror. Helplessness. Grief. Confusion.
These are all feelings I felt rush through me when my sister attempted suicide. I went through the motions of checking her into the hospital, of sitting next to her while she was examined, of texting updates to our family members. I did all of these things while feeling an overwhelming rush of conflicting emotions. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to scream or cry or both.
A year later, my heart still stops when my mom calls me. Is it bad news? Is my sister okay? I can only start breathing again when my mom tells me “everything is okay, everyone is okay.”
What are we supposed to do when someone we love wants to leave the world? When they actually take steps towards doing that? I don’t have all the right answers for you, but I can share what has helped me.
Telling my people: It is a hard thing to share with others and I felt worried about burdening people close to me. But telling the people in my life who pray for me and love me was important. I needed people checking to make sure that I was doing okay. I needed people praying over my sister. And those people wanted to help me - wanted to be there for me.
Seeing a counselor: Maybe we aren’t talking enough about how much it impacts a person when someone they love attempts suicide. Because I was trying to support my sister while also processing my own fear and grief. I was trying to not make the situation about me and my feelings - even though I was in the situation and was suffering as well. Seeing a counselor helped me sort through the feelings I was having. It helped me figure out how to support my sister and my family while also taking care of my own needs.
Meeting my own needs: What a complicated thing - to care for the person you love without risking your own mental health. I had to figure out the balance of how I could stay mentally “okay” in a situation where my sister wasn’t. Part of meeting my own needs included taking a day off work, spending time with friends and seeing my counselor. Meeting my own needs gave me the strength I needed to help my sister. I couldn’t have offered her any help if I started drowning.
Being comfortable with not knowing what to do: When it comes to your loved one attempting suicide, there is no handbook. No laid out plan of how to respond or how to handle it. That’s okay. Be comfortable with not always knowing what to do or say. Don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself. Love your loved one in the best way you know how and seek professional help for the rest.
Help your loved one seek professional help: You can not be your loved one’s counselor/therapist/mental health support. You can support your loved one as they receive professional help. You can drive them to appointments or help them get into a new life rhythm. You can encourage them to go to therapy weekly. You can not save them. You can not say or do something that is going to change the state of their emotional health.
Dear reader, I am so deeply sorry if you are reading this because someone you loved has attempted suicide. My heart aches for you and for the one that you love.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you are interested in making an appointment with one of our counselors at Bethel Haven, please call us at 706.310.9046 to schedule an appointment.
For many of us the idea of having a difficult conversations make us feel like we are going to break out in hives. Most of us would say we don’t like conflict and that we don’t want to have hard conversations. That being said, sometimes the conversations can’t be avoided. Here is how you can successfully have a difficult conversation:
Be strategic about the time and place.
Don’t have a difficult conversation when you are: hungry, angry, tired or lonely. Make sure that you are in a safe place to have the conversation and preferably where the conversation won’t be constantly interrupted. Make sure that the time is good for the other person as well - consider their state of mind when decided when to broach the topic.
Be calm and clear.
Depending on the type of conversation, you may feel yourself start to get emotional. Do your best to stay calm and focused on the topic at hand. Be clear with the other person for why you are bringing up this topic and how you hope to move forward.
Even if the topic or conversation is contentious, consider trying a cooperative approach. How can the conversation end in a way that is helpful to both parties? If it can’t, what is the best possible outcome for both parties?
Expect a positive response.
If you go into the conversation expecting it to go terribly, you will likely be on guard or seem defensive. Imagine the best possible outcome in your mind. Go into the conversation expecting that the person will be pleasant and cooperative. This will help with both nerves and defensiveness.
Measure actions not outcomes
The win of having a difficult conversation is not how the other person responds or even the outcome of the conversation. The win of the difficult conversation is the bravery it takes to initiate such a conversation. Consider it a win that you’ve taken a risk and had a hard conversation!
If approaching conflict is difficult for you, consider making an appointment with one of our counselors. Call 706.310.9046 now to make an appointment and learn how more about how to handle conflict.
What is it that causes dissatisfaction in relationships? We get frustrated when people don’t meet our needs. We want to be known by those we are close to and we hope that they will figure out what we want them to do.
The secret is something you already know - people can’t read your mind. We have a saying in my family: “state your preference.” What that means is that if you want something, you have to tell the other person - whether that means picking a restaurant, deciding what to do on a Friday night, or even just needing some encouragement or space.
It can be hard to share your needs with others. This creates vulnerability - what if you share a need and the person rejects it? What if you ask for something and the person says no? We don’t get our needs met because we are afraid - maybe afraid of upsetting someone or afraid of causing conflict.
The secret to getting your needs met is having your needs be known. Learning to push past fear in relationships to express need. The other side of your relationship wants to connect. Help foster connection through both expressing your own need and encouraging others to express theirs.
Do you have trouble expressing your needs to loved ones? Our counselors at Bethel Haven can help you learn how. Call 706.310.9046 now to make an appointment with one of our counselors.
Dear college student,
Something happens post-college that makes some adults forget the hard parts about college and only remember the good.
Life has gotten harder for you, college student, in the nine years since I was a college freshman. The pressures are bigger than they've ever been to be successful, to pick the right major, to rush the right sorority.
We ask so much of you - make friends, fit in, made good grades, exercise and stay healthy, volunteer, do extracurriculars - run the race with blisters on your heels until they crack - until you crack under the pressure - until you want to fall down, exhausted.
Falling down doesn't feel like an option, does it?
Only perfection does.
Do all of these things with the hope - not promise - of a future where you have a great job that you love, that fulfills your life purpose, and also pays the bills.
And if you don’t get that job it will feel like it is because you did something wrong, not because society is broken and stacked against you.
Do all of these things with what seems like no real support - no one telling you to ask for help, no one encouraging you to treasure your mental health.
Do all of these things while the world looks down on you for being young, for being untried, for being immature.
Sweet student, there are those in this world who are for you.
Perhaps it is your parents, your neighbor, your counselor, your church community. Find those people and hold them close. Don’t let depression or anxiety overwhelm you. Life is hard but you don't have to walk it alone. Find community. Open up. Talk about it.
You are the generation who stands up for what you believe in. Who seeks justice and scorns inequality. You are the generation who is smarter, works harder and, yes, edits Instagram photos better than we could ever hope to do. You have an intuition about trends and disrupting the status quo.
You are seen and you are loved.
Be kind to each other and be kind to yourselves.
Do not be discouraged.
We see you.
We believe in you.
If you are interested in making an appointment with one of our counselors at Bethel Haven, please call us at 706.310.9046 to schedule an appointment.
answer, write, share, - develop, learn, grow
When is the last time I felt -
When is the last time I -
In what areas do I feel -
Final thoughts -
How could you use the answers to some or all of these prompts to develop, grow and/or learn?
The idea of being in a personal "funk" has been coming up in a lot of conversations lately:
“I’m in a funk.”
“I don’t really know why I feel sad but I do.”
“I’m not sure what is going on but I’m not enjoying work/family/life like I used to.”
You’ve found yourself in a funk. You’re feeling low. You’re feeling generally unlike your normal self. What can you do?
1. Remind yourself that feelings don’t last forever.
You won’t always feel the way you’re feeling now. You will feel happy and back to your normal self again one day.
2. Don’t let yourself slide into unhealthy habits that might reinforce your “funk”-y feelings.
I know when I’m feeling sad I tend to - stop exercising - sleeping too much - start eating more - start eating less healthy foods - hide away from others - stop socializing. All of these things can contribute or exacerbate to feeling down.
3. Reach out and let someone know what is going on.
The best thing you can do is invite someone into what is going on in your life. You need someone who can check in on you from time to time and see how you’re doing. Funkiness grows strongest in secret - bring your feelings out into the light.
4. Keep on keeping on.
Sometimes the best way out of a funk is through it. At times we just have a season where we are in a weird mood. Sometimes we just need to keep practicing healthy habits and wait for the funk to clear.
5. Know when to get help.
Sometimes you need someone to help talk you through what you’re feeling. If you think seeing a counselor could be helpful, call Bethel Haven at (706) 310-9046 to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors.
Despite the fact that I have never displayed a natural athletic ability - despite the fact that after running for 30 seconds I’m ready to stop - despite these things, I played soccer from when I was in kindergarten until I went into my freshman year of high school. My freshman year of high school my mom forced me to go to soccer tryouts so I begrudgingly cleated up to attend the pre-tryout conditioning. To mine, and maybe everyone’s surprise, I made the team - likely because if you endured two weeks of pre-tryout conditioning, you really did deserve to at least warm the bench for the season.
Which is exactly what I did - warm the bench, that is. I appeared quite satisfied to gab with my teammates during games and find every excuse I could to not run our mile warmup at practice. I’m totally fine sitting on the bench, I told friends and family. I have more fun when there’s no pressure anyways. But truth be told, I felt sidelined. I felt as if I was on the outskirts of what was really going on - the girls hugging after a good play, congratulating each other on a good game. I felt ignored as I sat game after game on the bench. Ignored by my coach and by my team members. Not good enough.
So even though I probably could have contributed to the team and was actually a decent defender, I eventually self-selected out. If I wasn’t going to get play time then I wasn’t willing to put in the work to be better. I was willing to watch my teammates win - or lose - and feel detached from the consequences.
What have you self-selected out of? Are you lonely, waiting for others to reach out, angry that no one notices your pain? Are you frustrated with a friend and irritated that they haven’t approached you about it? Is your mental health a mess and you’re waiting for someone to tell you that you need to take some steps to do something about it? Are you drowning in debt but not willing to make the hard choices it would take to reduce your debt?
We oftentimes find ourselves waiting on the sidelines of life, sitting on the bench and angry at the world. Why hasn’t anyone reached out to help us? Why haven’t things been easier? Feeling that if no one is going to help us, then we are just going to give up. No one cares anyways.
What is it that you need to hear today? What is it that you need to do? How can you find ways to seek what you need instead of waiting for those things to come to you? How can you stop yourself from giving up because someone’s actions made you ignored or unimportant?
Sometimes we need to put ourselves out there and seek what it is that we need. If you find yourself needing company and are waiting for someone to realize that and reach out you will likely find yourself disappointed. Don’t sideline yourself and wait for someone else to solve your problems for you. Even a therapist can only do so much and know so much. Help out your friends and family by asking for what you need. Help yourself by seeking out what it is that you need. Don't sit yourself on the sidelines. Seek what it is that you need to do or change in order to get in the game.
Easier said than done, right? If you find yourself feeling sidelined and needing help knowing what to do next, call Bethel Haven at (706) 310-9046 to schedule an appointment with a trained counselor.
It is a commonly asked question: how long do I need to be in therapy before I start feeling better?
If you're going to make the investment of time and money, you likely want to know when therapy is going to start working. Is it right away? After a few sessions?
When I take medicine for a headache I typically don’t have a timer set to check when the medicine is supposed to kick in. I simply trust that the medicine says it is going to do what the bottle is going to do. Eventually the headache goes away.
The journey to mental and emotional health is nothing like taking medicine for a headache. There is no bottle we can read that tells us when to expect results.
And what do the results of being in therapy look like, anyway? They look more abstract than the results of taking an aspirin for a headache. Getting “better” through therapy work may mean that you respond to someone kindly instead of with anger. It may mean that you are able to go to your family thanksgiving without a meltdown. It may mean that you are able to have a difficult conversation or respond well to bad news.
The hard thing about mental health is that there isn't typically a specific moment where we feel “better.” The change can be gradual and we may wake up one morning realizing that we’ve been feeling different for a while. But the results are rarely immediate.
Making positive changes in our lives is a little bit like standing in the shower waiting for it to warm up. You don’t notice the gradual change in temperature as much as you notice when it is finally hot.
Though there is not a specific time frame to “feeling better,” there are ways to know if you are making progress. Consider keeping a journal of your emotions so you can track progress over time. Ask a trusted friend or family member if it seems from the outside like you are doing better. Work with your therapist to set measurable goals to track the progress you’ve made.
You are capable of change and of coming to a place of peace concerning your emotional health. Don’t be discouraged if progress doesn’t look how you feel like it should. Be present through the process and trust yourself. Feeling like you aren’t making progress doesn’t indicate that it is time to give up. Instead, take this as a sign to check in with yourself and others.
Written by our counselors to help promote your help, hope, healing