Reblog: Children & Pornography

The pornography plague is impacting even the youngest children. Here are three things I want parents to consider about children and pornography. by Tim Challies

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Reblog: The Rise of Reformed Charismatics

A 21st-century global movement sets the Word on fire with gospel preaching and powerful spiritual gifts.

by BRETT MCCRACKEN and posted on Christianity Today

The rollicking worship pulsed for nearly an hour in the humid Sanctuary: energetic singing, hundreds of hands raised, prophetic words referencing the Spirit’s flames, and sparks of spontaneous prayer among strangers from different states and nations.

When the worship ended, the crowd sat down, opened their English Standard Version Bibles and settled in for a 35-minute expository sermon on Galatians from King’s

Church London teaching pastor Andrew Wilson, who brought a different kind of fire.

Each night of the Advance church planting network’s global conference featured this sort of hybrid—doctrinally rich, gospel-focused, Reformed preaching sandwiched between free-flowing charismatic worship—a combination that would make many a Presbyterian (and a few Pentecostals) squirm.

But for the crowd gathered at Covenant Life Church in suburban Washington, DC, including pastors from Kenya, Nepal, Australia, and Thailand, it flowed as naturally as it does in their own Reformed charismatic churches—more than 70 of them across the globe.

Advance is hardly the only group in the middle of this theological Venn diagram, with growing numbers of theologically savvy, Spirit-filled followers in the United States, Britain, and around the world. Five hundred years after the Reformation, Luther’s 21st-century inheritors are embracing the Holy Spirit in new and deeper ways.

Newfrontiers, a network of global “apostolic spheres,” has planted hundreds of churches over the last 30 years, many of which fit the Reformed charismatic mold. The movement’s founder, Terry Virgo, a British pastor, serves as a sort of elder statesman of Calvinist continuationists and authored the book The Spirit-Filled Church.

Acts 29, the Reformed church-planting network, has also begun to showcase its charismatic side, holding a conference in London around the theme “Reformed & Revived.”

Matt Chandler, Acts 29 president and lead teaching pastor of the Dallas-area Village Church, has identified himself as Reformed charismatic. He believes the charismatic gifts are still active and should be pursued, a position somewhat uncommon among Southern Baptists.

Frontline Church, an Acts 29 congregation that has expanded to four locations in the Oklahoma City area over the last decade, combines structured liturgy (creeds, the Lord’s Table) with “planned spontaneity,” including small groups of prayer during communion, where congregants pray for each other’s healing and offer prophetic words to one another (e.g., “I believe the Lord wants to say to you . . . ”).

Lead pastor Josh Kouri thinks the church’s unique Reformed charismatic focus, “100 percent committed to both Word and Spirit,” is part of its appeal.

“Some people show up on a Sunday morning and don’t know where to peg us, but I think that is actually to our benefit,” he said. “It’s stretching, but it also feels safe to people. I think that commitment to hold in tension things we typically try to resolve . . . that’s been a big part of the unique story of our church.”

Wilson (also a CT columnist), Chandler, and Kouri, along with pastors Sam Storms (author of The Beginner’s Guide to the Spiritual Gifts) and Francis Chan, spoke in October at the Convergence Conference in Oklahoma City, an inaugural event focused on Word and Spirit.

Reformation and Revival

Historically, evangelicals of the Reformed and charismatic camps have been on separate ends of a spectrum, suspicious of one another’s views on the role of the Spirit’s miraculous gifts (e.g., the nine listed in 1 Cor. 12:7–10) for today’s churches.

“The mind and the emotions are not rivals. The way God reaches people is through both.” ~ Andrew Wilson

The Reformed tradition has tended to be cessationist, either denying or avoiding the continued practice of charismatic gifts like healing, tongues, and prophecy, believing they were only for the foundational era of the church. Charismatics, on the other hand, are continuationists, believing these gifts are still available and valuable.

Cessationists, like Reformed heavyweight John MacArthur, accuse charismatics of being light on biblical truth, often elevating spiritual experience above sound doctrine. As he writes in his 2013 book Strange Fire, MacArthur believes “Charismatics downplay doctrine for the same reason they demean the Bible: they think any concern for timeless objective truth stifles the work of the Spirit.”

Continuationists like Chan believe many evangelical churches neglect the presence and power of the Holy Spirit (the subject of his 2009 book Forgotten God) and, out of fear of abuses or unwieldy emotionalism, come close to what Paul warns against in 1 Thessalonians 5:19–20: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt.”

Read the rest here.

Remembering R.C. Sproul, 1939–2017

FROM 

R.C. Sproul, theologian, pastor, and founder of Ligonier Ministries, died on December 14, 2017, at the age of 78, after being hospitalized due to complications from emphysema. Dr. Sproul is survived by his childhood sweetheart and wife of fifty-seven years, Vesta Ann (Voorhis); their daughter, Sherrie Sproul Dorotiak, and her husband, Dennis; and their son, Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr., and his wife, Lisa. The Sprouls have eleven grandchildren, one granddaughter deceased, and seven great-grandchildren.

R.C. Sproul was a theologian who served the church. He admired the Reformers not only for the content of their message, but for the way they took that message to the people. They were “battlefield theologians,” as he called them. Many first heard of the five solas of the Reformation through R.C. Sproul’s teaching. When R.C. taught about Martin Luther, it was as if he had met the sixteenth-century Reformer. R.C.’s commitment to sola Scriptura led him to play a key role in drafting and advocating for the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978). He also served as president of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. Because of his commitment to sola fide, justification by faith alone, R.C. took a bold stand of opposition to Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) in 1994. He later opposed the New Perspective on Paul and also the Federal Vision view. Like the Reformers, R.C. was willing to take bold stands for the central and essential doctrines of historic orthodox Christianity. He was a defender of the authority of God’s Word and of the gospel.

As a trained philosopher and theologian, R.C. was a major advocate of classical apologetics. He was known for having a strong pro-life position, once remarking that abortion is perhaps the crucial ethical issue of our time. He was, above all, a theologian. He loved the doctrine of God. Through it, he found the gateway to knowing God, adoring God, and worshiping God. The doctrine of God may very well be the hub of the wheel of R.C. Sproul’s work and legacy, evidenced in his classic text, The Holiness of God (1985). As a father and grandfather in the faith, he helped an entire generation encounter the God of the Bible.

Find the rest of the article here.

Reblog: You Don’t Have to Deal With Toxic Behaviors of Others

by Dr. Henry Cloud

I was doing a seminar one day when a woman asked this question: How do you deal with critical people?”

My first response was, “Why would you want to do that? Dealing with critical people is awful.”

She looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Well … because you have to!”

“I don’t find that to be true,” I said. “Why do you have to?”

She got very circumspect and almost in a whisper so no one could hear, she said, “Because they’re everywhere!”

“Everywhere?” I asked.

“Yes, everywhere.”

“Wow, let’s talk about that.”

And we did, right there in front of a thousand people. I asked her what these critical people were like and where she was finding them, and she began to describe judgmental, critical personalities that she knew in her work, her extended family and in her social circles. In a sense, she was right. They were everywhere – at least in her everywhere. Apparently, she had an uncanny ability to find them, no matter where she was.

It seemed that at her work or any other circle, she would somehow manage to be drawn to the most critical person in the group and become friends with them. After awhile, she would feel like, “all they do is criticize what I am doing and tell me I should be doing it differently.”

What I told her that while it was true that critical people can be found everywhere, it was not true that she had to keep finding them or become best friends with them. But as long as she needed approval of these people – which is impossible to attain – she would always need to find a critical person so that she could live out her lifelong strategy of finally getting one to like her. Good luck.

The observation here is that she needed a critical person to accomplish her goal of getting critical people to finally approve of her. Her “script” required a critical person, so without realizing it, she always looked for one. All she would know was that when she encountered a critical person, she would feel “not good enough” and would begin trying to be good enough in their eyes, exerting lots of effort and continually falling short.

“What do I do?” she asked.

“Easy,” I said. “Just be honest with them, and you’ll never hear from them again.”

“What?” she said.

“Just be honest with them. Tell them something like, ‘Yeah, I can see that you would do it differently, but I like it like this. What’s for lunch?’ ”

Recognize the boundary there?

“But they will keep telling me what is wrong with what I am doing,” she said.

“Probably. So then you just say, ‘Yeah, I understand you feel that way, but that is the way I want to do it. Let’s move on. What’s for lunch?’ ”

In this situation I just described, replace “critical” with a toxic behavior of someone you know. Now think of what you can do for yourself next time you think you have to “deal with” them. Recognize what you’re feeling and honor that. Define the boundary for yourself, and communicate it with the person with whom you have an issue.

For example, “I don’t like it when you treat me like that. If you continue to do so, I will choose not to be around you until you can respect me the same way I respect you.”

That’s a vague statement, but you can define the specific boundary that meets your needs.

Now take a moment to ask yourself: What role am I playing in the situation I find myself in? What am I contributing to this?

Understanding all of this gives you something you can work on. You can work on your tendency to allow toxic people to have that kind of power over you. You can work on staying separate from their opinions and have your own. And most powerfully, you can finally notice that there are other people in your life who don’t exhibit those behaviors.

Please note that if there is an abusive person in your life, the boundaries you set may require a strong support system. It is encouraged that you seek the help of a counselor, a group and/or contact local law enforcement as necessary.

Find the original article here.

Reblog: Do’s and Don’ts of Teaching Your Child to Cope with Anger

by Dr. Gail Gross

Do you find your child lashing out? Are you having trouble communicating with your child during moments of extreme frustration or aggression? While children are growing and still learning how to cope with anger, they tend to instinctively use anger as a defense against physical and emotional pain. As the parent, there are many ways you can help your child through these emotional moments.

Here are some helpful tips to teach your children how to cope with anger:

1. DO recognize and acknowledge your child’s feelings. If you validate your child’s feelings, then your child doesn’t need to defend those feelings and is less likely to respond in anger. Acknowledging feelings causes your child’s anger to soften and leaves a safe space in which he or she can learn empathy and coping skills. On the other hand, if you discount your children’s feelings and experience, their anger will intensify as they fight to establish and validate their own sense of self.

2. DO practice empathy. By listening to your child’s feelings without interruption or defense, you create space for your child’s anger to dissipate, as they no longer need to use up energy defending the fairness of their position. By empathizing with your child’s feelings, you are helping them regulate the cortisol — the fight-or-flight chemical — that emerges through emotional stress. The consistency of your open reception to your child’s anger teaches him or her to react less emotionally and more critically. Ultimately, this is how nature and nurture come into balance, as a child’s behavior affects body chemistry and therefore, their emotional control.

3. DO teach your children problem-solving skills. Neurological tracking occurs when children creatively problem-solve. The more children practice and rehearse problem-solving rather than emotional reacting, the more their neurological pathways assist them in controlling their impulses. Parents can teach their children how to recognize, acknowledge and appropriately cope with their feelings by asking questions that prompt children to think up their own solutions, such as “What do you think would happen if you did Choice A instead of Choice B?” or, “What sort of options do you think are available to you and what do you need to do to find a resolution?”

4. DO establish clear standards for acceptable and unacceptable behavior. This means that though we want to validate all our child is feeling, allowing those emotions does not translate into the acceptance of bad behavior. There are common rules of engagement which include: no hitting, throwing, breaking objects or disrespect. By involving children in establishing the consequences for their behavior, you will find that your children are more likely to respect the rules. By limiting your children’s aggressive behavior, you are in a sense establishing a safety container for their feelings.

5. DO teach your child relaxation methods. By teaching children progressive relaxation, breathing techniques and other self-managing tools for stress, they can calm themselves down when confronted with anger. These techniques not only change the neural pathways, but also affect impulse control. Like every habit, the more your do it, the better you become at it. For example, if a child learns to breath in before giving in to the impulsive act of hitting, it gives that child a sense of control and lessens the need to establish control by acting out.

6. DO try a “time in” instead of a “time out.” As the parent, you are your child’s main guide in life, and as their guide, they rely on you to be there with them through their emotional experience, whatever that may be. Therefore, no time out, no isolation. Instead, try a “time in” — sit with your child and incorporate other methods mentioned in this post: work on breathing with them, ask them questions about their feelings. The important thing is to be fully present with them to help them through their emotions. Remember, you are teaching your child social cues and skills to be in relationships with others, rather than acting out alone. When children are isolated, they often ruminate and feel guilty for their behavior. This only serves to create concrete reasons for low self-esteem, which often cycles back to creating bad behavior.

7. DON’T attempt to orchestrate your child’s feelings. It is important to value what your child is experiencing. For example, if your child is hurt or crying, never say to them: “Stop crying.” But rather, validate your child’s experience, saying, “I know that hurts; that would make me cry also.” This makes an ally out of you, rather than a target for free floating anxiety and anger.

As an ally, your child learns to trust you, realizing you are there for them — no matter what, right or wrong, and that they can count on that. If your child can trust you, they can learn to trust themselves and the outer world. If, for example, your child tells you they hate you, or wants you to leave them alone, it is important to assure them that you will be nearby and that you will always be there for them — no matter what.

8. DON’T go down to your child’s level of behavior. Consciously and deliberately step into your role as the adult and remain there for the entire stressful episode. Little children can really work themselves up emotionally, especially while defending their position. Your job as a parent is to stay composed. Your state of calm allows your child to feel safe in the midst of chaos. A parent is always a child’s touchstone, the one they look toward, for security and safety. Children become afraid when their parents display anger. By staying in your adult role, you are teaching your child that it is okay to feel angry, and that when the feeling passes, you are still there, holding a secure space for them.

9. DO teach your children to recognize anger cues. If children can self-monitor, they can self-manage. By recognizing the feelings that accompany anger, children can recognize the onset of those emotions. This gives them time in which to self-manage before they are caught in the chaos of emotion. If you see that your child is over-tired or cranky, you have the opportunity as a parent to teach them to recognize their oncoming emotions by resting with your child, reading to your child, or spending some cozy time together.

10. DO teach your children how to bring their feelings to consciousness. By recognizing the emotions that drive their behavior, children can learn to skillfully manage that behavior. Writing, drawing and painting are wonderful ways to express the issues that are bothering children, especially if they have trouble verbalizing their emotions. When my children were little and reached the point of no return in their emotional intensity, I bought a Shmoo, which is balloon that can be punched and pops back up. I gave permission for my children to use the pillows on their bed or the Shmoo to release some of the pent-up feelings of emotions. Once those feelings are out in the open, you can collaborate with your child to find ways of coping with these feelings empathically.

11. Invest your child in the process of managing their anger. Ask your children to give you some tips on how they could positively manage their emotions. Make a list of five actions they can take — such as breathing deeply for one minute or drawing a picture — and leave the list somewhere your child can see it, such as his or her bedroom door or on your refrigerator door.

12. DO bond with your child. A well-bonded child can learn to cope and manage his or her emotions, to problem-solve, to process and to stick with a problem until it is resolved. They are also more adventuresome and will creatively explore different options as solutions to problems. The well-bonded child feels like he or she can depend on parents.

In the end, remember that you, as the parent, make all the difference. By following these tips, you can help strengthen your relationship with your child and give them the tools they need to cope with their anger. If you notice that your child has relationship problems, is a bully, or tries to hurt themselves, others or animals, do consider seeking professional help for both you and your child.

If you would like to learn more about how children process anger, please visit my website www.DrGailGross.com

Find the original article here.

Reblog: How to Help Kids Manage Anger

by Signe Whitson L.S.W.

As a school counselor, one of the most frequently asked category of questions I receive centers around ‘how do I handle my child’s anger?’  The question is almost always spoken by parents in a voice burdened with shame and embarrassment—as if anger in childhoodwas a bad thing or that any ‘good’ parent would know how to keep their kids perpetually happy.  Neither could be further from the reality of human nature and no adult need berate themselves for the fact that their children act like human beings.

To reassure caregivers that their questions about how to handle anger in children are valid and that they are not alone (by a long shot) in feeling weighed down by the challenge, here are my responses to a few of the most frequently asked questions about helping kids handle anger:

IS ANGER BAD OR HARMFUL TO A CHILD?

Anger is a basic, primal, spontaneous, but temporary neurophysiological feeling.  It is usually triggered by some sort of frustration and often perceived as an unpleasant state.  Anger is real and it is powerful—but it needn’t be feared, denied, or considered bad in and of itself.  Bearing in mind that all living creatures experience frustration, it follows that the feeling of anger is completely normal and natural.  It’s what we do with our anger that counts.  When anger is dealt with in healthy, constructive ways, there’s nothing bad or harmful about it.  However, too often we find that young people express anger in destructive ways that are harmful to friendships, parent-child interactions, student-teacher relationships, and even to long-term health.

DO ADULT ANGER PROBLEMS ALWAYS START FROM CHILDHOOD?

Problems expressing anger in healthy ways often trace their roots to childhood.  Some young people learn from the adults in their lives that aggression—whether it be yelling, name-calling, shaming, or actual violence—is the go-to strategy for expressing anger.  They may be taught that their momentary feelings are more important than the rights of others and that they are free to act out their feelings on others, no matter what the impact.

Then, there are other very different childhood experiences that are marked by impossible standards of perfection.  In these homes, kids often get the message that “anger is bad” and that “good kids don’t let anyone know that they are angry.”  Young people growing up in this kind of emotionally-restricted environment learn from an early age to hide or deny their natural feelings.  Even though suppressing anger may appear far more civil than outright name-calling or aggression, kids who are forced to mask their anger can suffer a great deal as adults, as they turn their anger inward and experience depression, or engage in passive aggressive behaviors to hurt others in hidden ways.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HEALTHY SPELL OF ANGER AND SOMETHING THAT’S A PROBLEM?

Healthy anger is marked by assertive communication.  In a healthy spell of anger, a young person can (and will!) honestly, directly and clearly tell someone else what happened that bothered them and make a specific request for that behavior to change or for amends to be made.  In some situations, this kind of communication is not an option and so a young person may make a conscious decision to distance themselves from the anger source or to “let go” of their angry feelings.  For example, in a school setting, students often don’t have the social power to be able to be 100% honest and assertive with a teacher they believe has treated them unfairly.  Making a choice to pick their battles and let a minor injustice go is a mature, emotionally-measured, and solution-focused way to make a bad situation bearable.

Problematic anger happens when an angry young person violates the rights of others through some sort of physical aggression, verbal outburst, or backhanded means of revenge.  Problematic anger is all about getting back at someone else and hurting them, while constructive anger is about solving a problem.

HOW CAN I HELP A CHILD WHO HAS ANGER ISSUES?

Any person at any age can learn that they have choices when it comes to how to express anger.  The good news is that just as aggression is a learned behavioral choice for expressing anger, so is assertiveness.  This knowledge is power.  When young people realize that their choices are bringing them results that they don’t want—scoldings, time outs, loss of privileges, restrictions on free time—they are often eager to learn better choices and strategies for expressing their angry feelings.

Physical strategies such as engaging in sports, exercise, mindfulness, and yoga are proven effective in helping young people learn to calm their brains and gain greater control over their choices in healthy behaviors.

As a mental health professional and school counselor, I encourage all schools to incorporate emotion management skills as part of the regular curriculum.  Since we know that emotional well-being is a pre-requisite for academic success, it only makes sense that schools make so-called “soft” skills such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, and assertive communication a part of their regular skills curriculum.  Prevention is our very best bet for helping young people solve their anger issues before they become lifelong patterns.

And finally, timing is everything when it comes to helping a young person who expresses their anger in destructive ways.  Telling a person that they have “anger issues” during a fit of rage is pretty much guaranteed to worsen the problem.  The child’s emotional brain is dominating their actions and they are not able to effectively access the logical, thinking part of their brain that allows them to make good choices.  For a young person to truly understand that their way of expressing anger is a problem for them (and for those around them!), they have to be calm enough to be able to clearly comprehend the costs of their destructive anger expression.   Helping a child learn how to thoroughly calm down from a bout of anger is one of the most valuable skills an adult can teach.  Listening (read: not talking) while a young person puts their feelings into words after (and only after) they have calmed down is a lasting way to help kids learn to understand and manage their angry feelings.

Find the original article here.

Reblog: 7 Reasons Why People Use Passive Aggressive Behavior

by Signe Whitson L.S.W.

Frustrating. Confounding. Relationship-damaging. Effective. Passive aggressive behavior is all of these things…and more. It is a deliberate and masked way of expressing covert feelings of anger (Long, Long & Whitson, 2008) that occurs among both men and women, in all civilized cultures and at every socioeconomic level. Why is this dysfunctional behavior so widespread? This article details seven reasons why passive aggressive behavior thrives in families, schools, relationships, and the workplace.

1. Anger is Socially Unacceptable

Anger is a normal, natural human emotion. It is, in fact, one of the most basic of all human experiences. Yet from a very young age, many of us are bombarded with the message that anger is bad. During a period in our emotional development when we are highly susceptible to social pressure from parents, caregivers, and teachers, we learn that to be “good” we must squash honest self-expression and hide angry feelings.

2. Sugarcoated Hostility is Socially Acceptable

When people learn that they cannot express anger openly, honestly, and directly within relationships, the emotion doesn’t just go away. Rather, many of us learn to express it in alternative, covert, socially acceptable ways, often through passive aggressive behaviors.

3. Passive Aggression is Easier than Assertiveness

In this day and age of common core, standardized tests, and Race to the Top, social skills instruction is often edged out of a young person’s formal education. Yet study after study shows that specific instruction in such “soft” skills as assertiveness, emotion management, and relationship building are as essential to a young person’s development as any “hard core” math and reading skills.

Kids are not born knowing how to communicate their feelings in direct, emotionally honest ways; rather, assertiveness is a skill that needs to be taught and is best mastered though repetition. On the other hand, passive aggressive behaviors such as sulking, emotional withdrawal, and indirect communication are much more the mark of immature, untamed emotional expression.

4. Passive Aggression is Easily Rationalized

A young girl doesn’t feel like cleaning her room. When her parents insist, she pouts first, procrastinates second, and then shoves all of her earthly possessions under her bed. When her father becomes irritated by her behavior, she feigns indignation: “I don’t know why you’re so upset. I was going to do it as soon as I finished my homework.” When her mother shows exasperation at the alarming pile of dirty clothing peeking out from below her comforter, she plays the victim: “Nothing I do is ever good enough for you, Mom. You just want me to be perfect!” With both parents, the girl rationalizes her string of compliantly defiant behavior, casting herself in the role of victim and blaming her parents’ “unreasonable” demands and standards as the real problem.

5. Revenge is Sweet

Passive aggression involves a variety of behaviors designed to “get back” at another person without the other recognizing the underlying anger. Jason feels overworked and under-acknowledged in the office. He calls out sick on two consecutive days, thereby missing a key deadline that sabotages his department’s productivity and ultimately reflects poorly on his boss. The boss is overlooked for a promotion; Jason’s mission is accomplished.

As in this example, passive aggression is often a crime of omission; it is what Jason did not do that indirectly caused a major problem for the target of his unarticulated anger. Because it can be difficult to “catch in the act” and often impossible to discipline according to standard HR protocols, passive aggressive behavior often exists as the perfect office crime.

6. Passive Aggressive Behavior is Convenient

Not everyone who uses passive aggressive behavior is a passive aggressive person. For example, a husband who typically communicates directly and honestly with his wife may not have the wherewithal on a particular weekend day to say “no” to her request to fix a leaky faucet, so he promises to do it while making endless excuses to put off the task. The man is not passive aggressive across the board, but on this day when relaxing and avoiding a fight with his wife are his top priorities, he chooses passive aggression as a convenient behavior of choice.

7. Passive Aggression can be Powerful

By denying feelings of anger, withdrawing from direct communication, casting themselves in the role of victim, and sabotaging others’ success, passive aggressive persons create feelings in others of being on an emotional roller coaster. Through intentional inefficiency, procrastination, allowing problems to escalate, and exacting hidden revenge, the passive aggressive individual gets others to act out their hidden anger for them. This ability to control someone else’s emotional response makes the passive aggressive person feel powerful. He/she becomes the puppeteer—the master of someone else’s universe and the controller of their behavior.

In the short term, passive aggressive behaviors can be more convenient than confrontation and generally require less skill than assertiveness. They allow a person to exact revenge from behind the safety of plausible excuses and to sit on the sofa all weekend long rather than complete a list of undesirable chores. So, what’s not to love? Truth be told, while momentarily satisfying or briefly convenient, in the long run, passive aggressive behavior is even more destructive to interpersonal relationships than aggression. Over time, virtually all relationships with a person who is passive aggressive become confusing, destructive and dysfunctional.

Find the original article here.

 

Reblog: The ABC’s of Emotions

By Kelly Graves 

Have you ever felt so angry that every time you think back on it you’re angry again? Or experienced fear that never really went away? Stubborn emotions can feel like rocks lodged in your gut. But no matter how heavy they feel, emotions are not fixed or permanent. Like a weather system moving across a landscape, our emotional world might be cloudy for days—it might even experience a sudden volcanic eruption—but  they inevitably transform. In this interview from 10% Happier, mindfulness teacher Oren J. Sofer explores how to harness awareness and transform emotional intensity into wisdom.

The ABCs of Emotions

“A” is for Awareness

The first step is to be aware. Ask yourself: How am I feeling right now? Simply answering this question names the experience and creates a jumping-off point for a workable relationship with the emotion. Labeling an emotional state organizes the chaos in the mind so you can begin to notice and work with it more effectively. Cultivating awareness helps form the habit of acknowledging when an emotion has taken center stage, and naming the emotion provides space to work more skillfully with its drama.

“B” is for Balance

As your awareness grows, you’ll likely notice more often how difficult it is to stay balanced in the throes of emotional intensity—this is normal.  Balance does not mean never being knocked off kilter. It means being okay with the internal rollercoaster and having a willingness to go along for the ride. Pushing away unpleasantness or desperately clawing for a better experience actually feeds the power an emotion has. Instead, try to stay with the emotion. Notice what it feels like in that moment without trying to change it. Taking this balanced stance builds confidence in your ability to remain in any experience and have the endurance to witness emotions as they ebb and flow.

Pushing away unpleasantness or desperately clawing for a better experience actually feeds the power an emotion has.

“C” is for Curiosity and Care

Next, dig deeper and investigate the emotion. Be curious how it feels in the body. Does it feel tingly? Or hot? Where is the emotion most intense? Dropping out of your stories and into your bodily sensations deprives the emotion of reinforcement from thoughts, and eventually it will lose momentum. Curiosity also can reveal when an emotion has become too intense. At this point, it is important to take care of yourself by stepping back until you feel ready to return to your practice. Knowing when you need to exercise care is an important skill when working with emotional intensity in a way that is compassionate toward yourself.

“S” is for Support

When emotions reach a certain threshold where they are too intense to work with productively, tap into your support network. Support can come from friends, family, healthy habits, or resources available to you. Support can also come from inner states of mind, like cultivating self-compassion, loving-kindness, patience, and gratitude. Utilize your external and internal support networks when emotions become too overwhelming. Feeling connected during times of emotional turbulence will help you take better care of your well being and gently work with turning intensity into wisdom.

Find the original post here.

Reblog: 5 Reasons Why an Alcoholic Cannot Love

By  Toshia Humphries

As a spiritual life coach and counselor, I have worked with many clients who are romantically involved with or identify as an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. For the most part, they all have the same experience, feeling unloved or “not loved in an ideal way.”

The latter statement is typically a cover story for the real one; a way to stay in denial about the overwhelming sense of loss and grief over the familial or romantic relationship that either died or never existed. It downplays the fact that, regardless of whether or not they were told they were loved or given basic necessities, they did not feel a genuine connection, emotional intimacy or closeness of any kind. In other words, they did not ever experience love in action.

Here’s the real reason why alcoholics have a difficult time reciprocating.

1. They are codependent. Codependency is not love. In fact, it is based on dysfunctional needs and a lack of love or respect for self in the same way active alcoholism is. In a codependent relationship, the significant other or family member is treated as a means to an end (a hostage or a drug), rather than a feeling, thinking human being. Even if the word love may be thrown around a lot, it is typically used as a tool for manipulation or victimization, and therefore feels more like a weapon than a term of endearment. As this dynamic continues, it is likely that active alcoholics will never leave the relationship, but they’ll also never truly be there. Moreover, if given the choice, they’ll never let you go. Hence, the saying, “Alcoholics don’t have relationships; they take hostages.”

2. They don’t love themselves. It has been said that active addiction is an act of turning against oneself, and it is in recovery that an individual learns how to love. In essence, recovery is a movement away from ego and toward love of self and others. Given the fact that the relationship an active alcoholic has with themselves is the one in which they are most abusive and negligent – physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually – it is very clear there is a complete lack of self-love. Additionally, that abuse and neglect inflicted upon self is projected onto and reflected in other relationships. As such, they are abusive and negligent in all relationships; romantic, platonic, professional and familial.3.

3. They are emotionally unavailable. Because any active addict uses substances to numb, escape or avoid pain, they are typically void of any emotional cues. More to the point, they avoid situations or conversations (intimate ones) that might trigger unwanted emotional responses. Additionally, because active addiction is a disconnection from self and therefore they are not in touch with their own emotional or spiritual needs, they cannot connect to those needs in others. In other words, where love is an easy enough word to say, it requires a movement away from ego and fear to truly offer and fully accept. Active alcoholics are in a constant state of ego and fear; the bricks and mortar that make a very substantial wall which impedes emotional availability.

4. They seem to love the bottle more. The key word here (of course) is seem. We all know, alcoholics don’t truly love the bottle. Again, it’s more like a codependent relationship with the bottle in which they cannot leave but it kills them to stay. Still, the bottle does become like a mistress in a marriage and a priority over family, friends and other responsibilities, as well as self. Even with regard to functioning alcoholics who manage to maintain a successful career, alcohol is the first to receive their attention any moment they are free to give it. It is their most prized and protected relationship. And, for the record, the latter explains the level of defensiveness encountered when anyone speaks against or threatens it.

5. They have “King Baby Syndrome.” Active alcoholics are self-centered and egotistical to the point of being easily labeled narcissistic. Even though there is no real love for themselves, they do demand all the attention via victimization, manipulation and dramatic antics. Therefore the world must revolve around them. Additionally, they are impulsive and want instant gratification. As such, they don’t play the tape the whole way through, which is another way of saying that they don’t think about the consequences of their actions and how they will impact others or the future. Learning how to love again or for the first time takes work, and it takes more than merely getting sober. Personal growth, healing and spiritual reconnection are all a necessary part of the process. They are expressions of love in action toward self, and the journey forward is about learning to love you.

Find the original article here on Sober Recovery.

 

Reblog: How Do You Process Your Feelings After a Divorce?

By Dr. Henry Cloud

Divorce is, be definition, a loss. In fact, one of the Hebrew words for divorce speaks of “cutting or severing a bond.” Something has been lost. The loss is real, genuine, and deep, and it must be grieved.

Grief is accepting the reality of what is. It is internalizing the reality of the severing of the marriage bond on both the intellectual and emotional levels of the heart. That is grief’s job and purpose – to allow us to come to terms with the way things really are, so that we can move on. Grief is a gift. Without it, we would all be condemned to a life of continually denying reality, arguing or protesting against reality, and never growing from the realities we experience.

When you allow yourself to embrace the sadness and shed the tears for what you have truly lost through divorce, then you can move on to a new phase of life when grief tells you it is time. It is important to note that those who have not fully grieved the losses of their divorce are in jeopardy of either never getting over it or repeating it. When I am speaking to groups of divorced people, I often talk about this in terms of dating. I tell them, “When someone you are seeing tells you that divorce wasn’t that hard on them, and they really didn’t have a difficult time with it, burn rubber out of the driveway of that house.” A person who hasn’t grieved a significant loss has unfinished business inside and can cause others great grief as a result.

What does it mean to embrace grief in divorce? It means many things, including:

  • Allowing a painful feeling to come and go, without prohibiting them.
  • Reaching out to others to comfort and support you through this, rather than going it alone.
  • Putting an end to the protests and arguments in your head about how it shouldn’t have happened, or whose fault it was or was not.

Grief doesn’t allow us to be right, strong, and in control. Grief basically says, “You loved, and you lost. It hurts.” Yet, on the other side are safe people to catch, hold and restore us.

One of the most difficult yet important tasks in grief in divorce is that of remembering and experiencing value for the loved one. Let yourself feel the love you still may bear for your former spouse, the positive emotions you have, your desires for togetherness, your appreciation for that person’s good traits and characteristics. Most people who are trying to get past divorce don’t recognize the importance of this, thinking instead that they need to be aware of the other person’s faults, sins and mistakes. Sometimes they do this out of a desire for revenge; other times it is a reaction against the need they feel for the person, which causes the fear to get hooked back in. Sometimes they do this as a way to complete the letting-go process.

Yet grief does not work this way. When you let go of a love, you are to let go of the whole person: good and bad, weaknesses and strengths, positives and negatives. When we allow only the negative feelings, we then let go only of the person we dislike, which is just a part of the whole individual. We won’t grieve the other part, the person we still love and want, and with whom we have in our memories a repository of good experiences. That person is still in our present world, still active within our heart, and causing all sorts of difficulties. Let go of the desire to see only the bad, and allow yourself to appreciate and let go of the good person you are leaving. This is the key to freedom beyond grief in divorce.

Find the original article here.

Reblog: The Ingredients that Fuel Healthy Intimacy

By Dr. Henry Cloud

A healthy sex life begins with love. Love brings a couple together and allows sex to flourish. Love encompasses sex; it’s larger than sex. Love can create the desire for sex, but when the passion of sex is over, love remains. It continues and is present with the couple, holding them close to each other and to the Author of love himself.

A large part of sexual love is knowing, and sexual love is about knowing your spouse, personally and intimately. That means you should know your partner’s feelings, fears, secrets, hurts, and dreams, and care about them – and likewise, your partner should know and care about yours.

The vulnerability of sex increases that base of knowing, as husband and wife reveal their innermost souls to each other through sexual love. By its unveiling and exposed nature, sex demands that sort of openness. In sexual intimacy two people show each other the privacy of their bodies as well as the privacy of their hearts and feelings.

Love involves the whole person: heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love and sex both require an emotional connection between two people; both should be emotionally present and available. When two people can attach to each other in their hearts, a healthy sex life will emerge and develop. Yet when a couple lacks this kind of intimacy, their sex life will become atrophied because it cannot feed off the emotional connection. This can happen in several ways. Sometimes one mate will withdraw love out of anger, hurt, or a desire to punish the other. Other times one will be unable to take in or receive the other’s love. Still other times one mate has an inability to live emotionally in the world. Both people’s hearts must be available in order to connect emotionally. If this is not the case, while sex can occur, it more often than not does not have enough fuel to be ignited.

It’s also true that love, and healthy sexuality, cannot exist without trust. Because sex is such a symbol of personal exposure and vulnerability, a healthy sex life requires that couples develop a great deal of trust in each other, trust that the other person will not use what he or she knows to hurt the other person. When people trust each other, they feel free to continue their explorations of one another at deeper and deeper levels. In fact, one of the Hebrew words for trust also means “careless.” In other words, when you trust someone, you are careless with him or her. You are not anxious and fearful, editing what you say and feel. You are free to be yourself with the other person, because you can trust that he or she will not do wrong by you.

Love also changes our focus. It shifts our perspective from an emphasis on “I” to a focus on “we.” That is, in love, the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. It is not self-seeking; it is relationship-seeking. That’s why couples don’t talk about building their lives together. They discuss and dream about building a life together. There is a continual emphasis on how “we” are and on caring for the other person’s welfare, and when that happens, we can give ourselves to our significant other in vulnerable, yet, fulfilling ways.

Find the original article here.

Reblog: The Benefits of Setting Boundaries with your Teenager

by Dr. Henry Cloud

I was at a friend’s house for dinner one evening when, out of the blue, their son turned to his parents and said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you. I got suspended from work for a week.”

“What happened?” his dad inquired. There was concern in his tone. It had been difficult for their son to secure this job.

“I was late twice within the same week.”

“That’s too bad,” his mother said. “You needed the money.” She continued eating, and we chatted for a minute before the subject changed.

I was so proud of his mother, I wanted to scream, “Way to go!” She didn’t get hooked into taking care of him or hooked by her own anxiety into lecturing, trying to ensure that he would never be late again so he wouldn’t lose his job. She just empathized and listened, allowing him to shoulder the problem. She also did not offer money, talk about how unfair “they” were to do such a thing, or enter into any other codependent behavior. Her son was learning that the real world has limits for his behavior. Fortunately, his mother refused to shield him from that lesson.

If parents can stay out of the way of the outside world’s limits, the child learns an important reality: Parents are not the only ones with rules. This realization helps the child see rules not as parental but as part of the real world. If allowed to suffer, he learns that the world has requirements from which parents cannot shield him. This realization does wonders to stop his regressive slide back to the parents’ protection; the child learns to deal with the consequences of reality in a way other than just the parents’ discipline.

Unfortunately, some parents cannot let their children suffer. When their teenager runs into trouble with school, or the law, or on the job, she will do something to bail him out. When she runs to his aid, she often attacks or undermines the limit he should have experienced at the hands of the outside world. She storms the principal’s office, for example, protesting a grade or lack of promotion or recognition. Certainly it can’t be her child’s first fault; it must be the teacher or the school. And if someone doesn’t do something, there will be hell to pay, or some other version of parental threat. This type of parent just cannot accept the fact that her child is not making it and needs to suffer the consequences.

Sometimes a parent will not interfere so blatantly as storming the principal’s office. She may just join her child in blaming the limit setter. “Well, you know how those teachers are,” she might say. “They just teach by the book. Wait until you get to college where they actually know what they’re talking about.” The reaction undermines the effect of what could have served as a wake-up call that the child needed to help him grow up.

The chief parenting task in this area is to not get in the way. The parent’s job is the resist not only undermining but also joining the limits her child experiences in the real world – using them to say, “I told you so.” Using the outside to limit to her advantage diminishes its power. She might say something like, “I told you if you didn’t start to be more responsible that this would happen. Now look at the mess you’ve gotten yourself into.” This kind of reaction nullifies any positive effect the outside limits might have had on the child; the outside limits and parents’ nagging become the same in the mind of the child who is trying to separate from the parent. What started as an outside limit has now become the parent’s, and the child must separate from them and thus, from the limit. As a life lesson, it is canceled out, as if it never happened. This does not negate valid coaching and interaction but only joining.

A parent would do best to just step out of the way and allow her child to have his own experience and relationship with the outside world. Like my friend’s remark: “Sounds tough. What are you going to do now? Pass the casserole.”

Find the original article here.

Reblog: How to Become a Color Theory Expert

From AccuQuilt

What every quilter should know about basic color theory and fabric coordination

Do you second-guess yourself when selecting fabrics? Unsure if the colors work together? Not anymore. AccuQuilt is covering the basics of color theory, and giving you the confidence to choose the perfect color combinations every time.

Color plays a vital role in creating beautiful projects, and understanding color theory is the first step to helping you nail your fabric selections with every quilt you make. You’ll be learning the same principals used by designers, artists, and photographers—and we won’t even charge you for college credits. So get ready: here comes color theory 101.

The color wheel—a helpful tool

Color Theory

Color theory begins with the color wheel—a representation of all the colors in a handy visual form. You’ll notice the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) are on different sides of the wheel. The primary colors are those that cannot be created by mixing any other hue. In fact, all other colors are derived from these three primary colors.

Secondary colors are those that are created when two primary colors are mixed, like orange (red and yellow), green (yellow and blue), and purple (blue and red).

In between the primary and secondary colors you’ll find the tertiary colors. These are combination colors, like aqua (green-blue) and vermillion (red-purple). They add depth and interest, allowing you to expand on the palette for whatever you’re creating.

Color theory is built off of the color wheel, so it’s good to keep one handy as a quick reference.

Harmonious color themes

Choosing the right colors for a piece creates harmony—a feeling that everything is how it should be. Likewise, choosing the wrong colors creates visual dissonance—the feeling that something is just “off.”  It’s the difference between a piece feeling energized versus too-intense, or relaxing versus boring.

There are reliable color themes that will always create visual harmony, so when in doubt you can always fall back on one of these combinations.

  • Analogous colors: Analogous color themes are created when any three colors that are next to each other on the 12-color wheel are used. Examples of analogous themes would be blue, green-blue, and green or yellow, yellow-orange, and orange. Typically when the analogous theme is used, one color will be dominant, and the other two used as accents.
  •  Complementary colors: Complementary colors are those that are completely opposite each other on the color wheel. The complementary of red is green, yellow is purple, and blue is orange. Using complementary colors together creates a theme that naturally works. For example, shades of yellow-green and purple-red would be complementary, and create harmony in your project.
  • Split complementary: This color theme tends to be very vibrant and works best when one color is used as the main color while the other two are used as accent colors. The split complementary theme is similar to the complementary theme, but instead of using the color that’s exactly opposite the main color, you choose the two colors on either side of it. For example, if your main color is green, instead of choosing the complementary of red, you would choose red-orange and red-violet.

Contrast and context

The same color can look completely different when placed against other colors. For example, red looks more vibrant against black, while it almost disappears against orange. That’s because of the contrast and context. The same hue will have different contrasts in different contexts.

Some color combinations are high contrast, like yellow and blue, and some are low contrast, like yellow and green-yellow. The closer together the colors are on the color wheel, the less contrast they’ll have. Neither high contrast or low contrast is better, it depends on the feeling you’re looking to create. If you’d like your project to have a soothing, serene feeling, colors like blues and greens that flow into one another would be a much better choice than high-contrast reds and yellows.

Contrast tints and shades

Color Theory

All the colors are in the color wheel as pure forms, but more hues can be created by adding black or white. Adding white to a color lightens the hue and creates a tint. Adding black darkens the hue, creating a shade. Using tints and shades creates contrast, and therefore visual interest.

High-contrast tints and shades—those that are very dark and very light, are eye-catching when paired together, and ideal for parts that you want to highlight. Conversely, low-contrast shades and tints—those that are closer together, are more subtle and great for backgrounds.

Hot and cold

The ways you use warm and cool colors can totally change the look and feeling of your quilt. Warmer colors are those like red, yellow, and orange, while cooler colors include blue, green, and violet. Using an analogous theme that features all warm or all cool colors provides a completely different look than mixing warm and cool. Mixing the two can provide striking contrast.

Some fabrics—like red-violets or yellow-greens—can be hard to read. If you can’t tell if the fabric reads more warm or cool, put it against other fabrics and see where it falls.

Putting it into practice

Color theory is important to know as a quilter, and it can help guide you in making fabric selection decisions. But color theory is only part of it—the other part is your personal preference. Complementary colors are great, but maybe you don’t like to use red and green together outside of the holidays. Or maybe bright, clear colors aren’t your deal. Do what you’re comfortable with.

On the flipside, if you find yourself in a color rut, pull out your handy-dandy color wheel and start following color theory to try out different combinations. Gather your fabrics and try them together. You may find a new combination you never thought of using together.

Combining color theory with your preferences will help you create unique, beautiful quilts that are oh-so-you. So grab some fabric and get started. And show us what you came up with. We love to see your creations. Happy quilting!

Free GO! Piece of My Heart Quilt Pattern

Find the original article here.

Reblog: What Does a Cure to Addiction Look Like?

by Dr. Henry Cloud

If you’ve turned on the news, or perhaps if you’ve scrolled through your social media feeds, you’ve seen stories related to the opioid crisis currently going on in this country. In some cases, maybe you’ve lost a friend or a loved one to an overdose, or you’re in a codependent relationship with someone who’s an addict.

What some may not understand about addiction is complex, and its intricacies are sometimes difficult to explain, but what we do know is that addiction is a compulsive physiological need for something: in other words, something that someone needs to survive. People are usually addicted to a specific substance, such as alcohol, heroin, pills, or food. But people can also feel addicted to activities, such as sex, gambling, work, destructive relationships, religiosity, achievement, and materialism. These substances and activities never satisfy, however, because they don’t deal with the real problem. We don’t really need alcohol, street drugs, or sex. We can live very well without these things.

However, we really do need relationship, and we cannot live very well without it. We have already seen what happens when it’s absent. With addiction, a real need is getting a false solution based on deceitful desires.

Curing addictions requires a return to sensitivity and humility. Addicted people must admit their powerlessness and their need for others, as well as soften their heart toward those they have injured and realized their deceitful desires. They are substitutes for some other need of the real self. An essential step in the healing of addictions is finding out the real need being masked by the deceitful desire. One of these real needs is attachment and bonding to others.

Emotionally isolated people can’t get relationship, so they go for something else. They convince themselves that they want food, the sex, or the pills, and they order their whole life around it. But they really need their emptiness to be filled up with loving feelings and connections with other people.

When the inner hunger for relationship is filled with love, then the driving force behind many addictions goes away. Not all addictions come from isolation, but many do. If someone cannot bond with another person, they will bond with a prostitute’s body, a bottle, a half-gallon of ice cream, all the while going relationally hungry inside.

One client I had who struggled with food addiction put it this way. “I remember the first time I chose to call someone instead of eat. I could feel the strong pull toward the refrigerator, but I interpreted that as a pull toward love. So I called someone from my support group. After going over to her house and feeling some real affection, some warmth, I wasn’t hungry anymore. Since that time, I’ve learned to do that more. I’m finding out it’s not really food I want at those times. It’s love.”

Find the original article here.

Reblog: What Keeps People Together and Why They Break Up

By Dr. Henry Cloud

I talk to a lot of couples, professionally and obviously just as a regular human being with friends. One of the things that I am always most curious to talk to couples about is their initial attraction. What made them decide to get together? And what happened in the first little while that helped that grow and enabled them to create a lasting relationship? The differences are sometimes stark. What brought them together and what keeps them together are rarely the same thing.

That should be obvious. Beginnings of relationships are often at least a little bit superficial, mostly because you don’t really know the person yet. And yet, the criteria for what someone is looking for in a relationship always seems to hover over those initial attractors.

When you talk to people about what they are looking for in another person, you tend to hear the same things over and over again:

I want someone who’s witty. I want someone who likes to hike. I want someone who is ambitious in their career. I want someone who is good looking. I want someone who reads a lot. I want someone who is physically strong.

People have a habit of defining themselves and terms of their likes and preferences. But we are equally defined by the things that we do not like. It is much less common for a person seeking a relationship to be looking for character traits that embody things that they know will hurt their relationship.

Maybe it’s happened, but in my experience, I’ve never encountered a couple who got divorced or went through big relationship problems over the fact that their partner didn’t want to hit the trails, didn’t spend enough time reading, or didn’t like the same sports.

The dating process is about having fun and getting to know people. The initial, more surface oriented factors that comprise your personal taste in dating partners is what makes the beginning of a relationship fun. But there is an opportunity that you must make sure you are seizing in order to size up a person’s character traits and realize if you’ll want to get more serious with them. These things often reveal themselves early.

The types of things that cause relationships to end are things like being a bad listener. Having unrealistic expectations. Irresponsible spending. Lack of emotional identification. Inability to just be real. Temper flare-ups. Perfectionism. Tendencies toward controlling behavior.

We often rationalize these character flaws as personality quirks even though they are big red flags. When you contrast that with the comparatively lightweight nature of the criteria that we select people by — the kind of superficial traits that comprise our tastes — it starts to seem like dangerously shortsighted behavior.

What good is a witty person who can’t make you feel safe?

What good is an ambitious, career-driven person if they can’t be real with you?

What good is a person who reads a lot but doesn’t hear a word you say?

When you’re starting out with someone, consider whether you’re being too limited in the way that you’re assessing them as a dating partner. Are there superficial things that you can look past for now? Those things will fade in time. Are your concrete, but ultimately superficial preferences preventing you from dating someone who could be really good for you?

Likewise, are there signs of trouble that you’re writing off because someone does meet other more ‘fun’ qualifications? How’s the future look in that scenario? There’s a good chance that all of the initial attractors will have fallen away, absorbed into the fabric of your connection, and completely overshadowed by problems that may doom your relationship, hurt your quality of life, and ultimately waste your time.

Time and energy are finite resources. When it comes to dating, you need to find a balance of what’s fun, but you also need to temper it with what’s real. You will save yourself a whole lot of heartache if you consider the kinds of things that you’re NOT looking for with the same weight of the things that you find attractive.