A stronger realization of the evil in drinking hit me recently when I stumbled on some news on Facebook. No, I was not dipping into the Sacramental Wine. A father who had had a couple of bottles too many took hold of the steering wheel and drove himself, his wife and stepmother to the embrace of death. Luckily, thanks to a Good Samaritan who was close to the murder (or manslaughter) scene, his son was rescued from the sinking car.
A quick Google search will, however, lead us to countless other stories of a drunkards killing strangers, killing family and friends, or even himself. Why then do we choose to surrender our sanity — and even our humanity — to this liquefied femme fatale called alcohol?
Statistics, according to the Drug-Free World Foundation, establish that alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined, and is a factor in the three leading causes of death among young persons: accidents, homicides and suicides. Not only that; youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs and are fifty times more likely to use cocaine.
It has also been shown that at least 40% of violent crimes occur under the influence of alcohol. What is more, alcoholic drinks are getting cheaper by the decade. They are becoming more and more affordable, so no one is left out from this global entrapment.
It is therefore not doubtful that alcohol has wrought great havoc not only on our quality of life, but the quantity of the living. Though thinking right — in other words, sanity — can have its downsides, and though not easily forgetting or repressing sour memories can draw us into melancholy, alcohol is no true escape route. It does not offer an exit from the premises of our problems. It only switches off the light for a moment.
The problems — though invincible — remain. It gives us temporary breaks from challenges such as poverty, unemployment, strained relationships and so on; and many a time, it leads to permanent damages.
Away from the figures, the writer has personally experienced how alcohol can often embitter an otherwise great marriage and relationship. (Usually) the father spends a great deal of his income buying it for himself and friends, and he spends most of what remains trying to clean up at the hospital: liver disease cancer, malnourishment, gastrointestinal problems, osteoporosis and so on. He also spends a great deal of his time arguing with his wife and beating his kids — all for silly or no reasons at all. He even borrows or steals from his wife to fuel this indulgence of his. And so, there is nothing left in his pocket for the upkeep of his family, nothing left in his time for keeping up with his family and nothing left in his head to realize this tragedy.
For the youth, though the character and plotline may differ, the story often heads for the same ending: misery. It is a vicious, almost never-ending, cycle wrapped in shame and anguish. If we shut our eyes to the place of peer pressure, then it is either pain leads you to the consumption of alcohol or the consumption of alcohol leads you to pain — or both.
You are facing problems with your studies, your secondary school mates have all graduated and are probably married, and your project supervisor is there making life hell for you. Or your girlfriend whom you love dearly just left you bitter for leaving for sweeter pastures. Or you flunked your final-year examinations, have to sit in classes with your juniors for a year. So you decide to seek solace in the flames of alcohol. Well, stop! Don’t.
Don’t submit your sanity to a bottle of fizzles or wood soaked liquid before it makes you a fizzle yourself. Don’t hand over the baton of your senses, even for a night, for that is your greatest weapon against life’s challenges. You do not win by running. You win through strategy and hard work — and a drunken man is not capable of both. Alcohol is a drug like all others. It has got a glittering package. It has got a sweet voice. It even looks great from the top.
But underneath all these is a quicksand of unending, yet limitless, misery. Trust me, it is not worth it. But don’t take my word for it; check the statistics. Look around you. See what you do not want to see and see the reality for yourself.
Center for Healing, Growth, & Recovery Ministries
Reverend Marc Baisden, MACP, CMHC, Min. (C) 2019
We don’t have to hike for hours every day. But even going a few miles at a sturdy pace two or three days per week can have a tremendous impact on your health.
You’re getting your heart rate up and lifting your body weight as you trek up and down hills, making hiking the perfect cardio and load-bearing activity, all in one. Plus, you’re exercising the largest muscles in your body— namely your gluteus muscles and quads in your legs—which therefore has the most effect on your metabolism. And you’re strengthening your core, too. When you’re hiking over uneven terrain, you’re also exercising your smaller, stabilizer muscles—lots of little muscles that all add up. There’s a lot you can cover by just walking up and down hills.
Popular ways that people try to replicate this kind of physical activity are in the gym via stationary bikes or treadmills. These are obviously much better alternatives than not exercising at all. But when doing only the same repetitive motion that’s offered by stationary bikes or treadmills, you can’t really get the same kind of workout provided by hiking and navigating hills. Essentially, all of those stabilizer muscles aren’t working so hard. And, you’re not getting outside which is always the place I prefer to do at least a portion of my exercise. Do you live somewhere flat? No worries.
A brisk walk, followed by doing a few sets of squats while holding a dumbbell to your chest, qualifies as an awesome workout.
As for load-bearing exercise, remember that the gluteus muscles and quads should be your highest priority for enhancing your metabolism and building your overall strength. The seldom-done squats and deadlifts are hands down the best gym exercises you can do because of the emphasis on these bigger muscles as well as your core strength. Deadlifts have an undeserved negative reputation (the name doesn’t help—better would be “life-force lifts” or “anti-death lifts”!) that comes from too many people doing them inappropriately, with too much weight and with the wrong form. Just like hiking, bending over or squatting to pick up heavy objects is an ancient exercise; thus our bodies are well adapted to do them. But don’t risk an injury. Do them right. Your best bet?
Work with the theme “less weight, more reps.” Also these lifting exercises don’t necessarily need to be committed to with a bar. Using dumbbells or kettle-bells is a great, low-risk way to get started. And why not work with a trainer? I do, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Remember to maintain stretching as a part of your physical activity. Maintaining elasticity of muscles is vital for a whole host of reasons, the most important of which is prevention of injury, inflammation, and those everyday aches and pains. It’s important for maintaining good posture, too. A full body stretch doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes. Actually, a common mistake can be over-stretching, which can make muscles weaker. Of course muscles can be re-strengthened, but why put your body through unnecessary stress? If you choose a yoga practice, the idea is to hold the stretching poses for only seconds. It’s the strengthening poses that can be held for longer. There is some reasoning however for holding the stretching poses longer, and it’s for the releasing of deeper tension. So in a sense there can be a benefit to this.
My suggestion if you do the longer stretching poses is to do them only on an occasional basis, especially if building strength is what you’re going for.
As mentioned, I highly recommend working with a fitness trainer. What you learned in PE class just isn’t going to cut it if a deeper power for the sake of your longevity and life-force is what you’re going for. And going to the gym on your own and doing the same routine day in and day out only does so much. It’s much more effective and time better spent to shake things up. The variety of fitness activities is endless, and changing up the exercises you’re doing on a regular basis will make you stronger faster. A trainer knows best how to do this, and it needn’t be time-consuming. With the right kind of intensive exercise, you can get a lot out of a single hour, or even less.
Believe me, I’ve seen the results firsthand through trainers I have worked with, and by my own experience as a trainer at the Ashram. I’ve witnessed incredible transformations in people of all body types and starting out at all different levels of fitness.
Find the trainer who believes in sticking with the free weights. Free weights have exponentially more impact than machines. Remember that core and lower-body exercises are the most important since, as we discussed above, they’re the biggest muscles. Men especially tend to get preoccupied with upper body workouts, partly because they’re easier overall since the upper body muscles are smaller relative to the muscles in the legs. It’s a matter of balance between lower and upper-body exercises, but placing more of an emphasis on lower-body is the way to go. And of course we’re not talking body-building here. Again, we’re talking about ‘power-building’.
Keep in mind you don’t have to work with a trainer every day. Why not start with just two days a week? Of course a good trainer will teach you how to work out on your own, too. I’m confident you’ll be very impressed with what you get out of it.
The other days of the week? Hike or go for power walks! I am very much a believer in fast-paced walking. Too easy for you? Try carrying three to ten pound dumbbells (or water bottles) and pump your arms like you mean it. Now we’re talking. Or maybe you’ve got other athletic pursuits—sports that you like to play. Being physically active should be enjoyable, something you look forward to. Yoga, soccer, pottery (well maybe something a little more strenuous), swimming, and biking—they’re all good. Need I share my opinion of the contact sports like football that invite injury and wear and tear on the body?
Get creative. Join a softball team. Take up tennis. Play ultimate frisbee. Dance! (This one is among my favorites.)
Exercise is certainly neck and neck with diet, in terms of importance for overall health. They’re both critical links in the chain of well-being. On the note of diet, I recommend a sturdy dose of easy-to-digest protein following your workout. Naturally, and for the sake of purity and potency, I’m a fan of my post-workout smoothie with Infinity Protein, which is a blend of organic hemp and brown rice protein infused with muscle-enhancing herbs. And of course the Infinity Protein Bars too, which are hands down, the best bars in terms of both pure ingredients and flavor. Remember that when we neglect our diets, we lose the energy and enthusiasm we need to be physically active. It becomes hard to exercise even if we want to. So create the right chemistry with your diet and then pump the handle with exercise, with the restorative nutrition to follow.
As a motivating factor, it’s always helpful to remember your physiological health is intimately connected with your mental health – that’s your peace and happiness. No question a strong body is one of the foundational elements for a strong mind, only to make us more fit to better navigate through the world of modern-day stressors and still maintain a general sense of wellbeing.
It’s the strong mind and body together that build true power, and there’s no moment like the precious present to jump onboard. I say we go for it.
Over the last seventeen years the Infinity Superfoods have become a powerful force, enhancing the lives of many thousands of people, and it is an honor to have you as part of the team.
This article was written by Billy Merritt.
Principle 1: Master the courage to question reality.
No plan survives its collision with reality, and reality has a habit of shifting, at work and at home. Markets and economies change, requiring shifts in strategy. People change and forget to tell each other – colleagues, customers, spouses, friends. We are all changing all the time.
Not only do we neglect to share this with others, we are skilled at masking it even to ourselves.
Principle 2: Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real.
While many fear “real”, it is the unreal conversations that should scare us to death. Unreal conversations are expensive, for the individual and the organization. No one has to change, but everyone has to have the conversation. When the conversation is real, the change occurs before the conversation is over. You will accomplish your goals in large part by making every conversation you have as real as possible.
Principle 3: Be here, prepared to be nowhere else.
Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can. Speak and listen as if this is the most important conversation you will ever have with this person. It could be. Participate as if it matters. It does.
Principle 4: Tackle your toughest challenge today.
Burnout doesn’t occur because we’re solving problems, it occurs because we’ve been trying to solve the same problem over and over. The problem named is the problem solved. Identify and then confront the real obstacles in your path. Stay current with the people important to your success and happiness. Travel light, agenda-free.
Principle 5: Obey your instincts.
Don’t just trust your instincts – obey them. Your radar screen works perfectly. It’s the operator who is in question. An intelligence agent is sending you messages every day, all day.
Tune in. Pay attention. Share these thoughts with others. What we label as illusion is the scent of something real coming close.
Principle 6: Take responsibility for your emotional wake.
For a leader, there is no trivial comment. Something you don’t remember saying may have had a devastating impact on someone who looked to you for guidance and approval. The conversation is not about the relationship; the conversation is the relationship. Learning to deliver the message without the load allows you to speak with clarity, conviction, and compassion.
Principle 7: Let silence do the heavy lifting.
When there is simply a whole lot of talking going on, conversations can be so empty of meaning they crackle. Memorable conversations include breathing space. Slow down the conversation, so that insight can occur in the space between words and you can discover what the conversation really wants and needs to be about.
This article was written by Rev. Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN
Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden.
Surrender to the evolutionary process running through you .
Walking the spiritual path is to continuously surrender to the next stage of our growth and unfolding. It is about allowing for older and smaller versions of ourselves to die and new grander and greater versions to emerge.
This means that we need to surrender to the will of God. For many individuals, the word surrender has a negative charge to it. For them, it means acquiescing or submitting to a God outside of themselves. A deity with human traits and characteristics.
This, of course, is not what God is. God, is not “out there,“ nor is God “in here.“ The Spirit of God is infinite.
God is all there is, no beginning nor end. There truly is no spot where God is not.
As Eckhart Tolle puts it, “God is the Alfa and the Omega.“ God is the beginning and the end, God is in everything. Everything is in God.
The will of God
A common question is what God’s will is. God’s will is for greater expression of all of Life - that all of life come into forever greater and grander expression of itself. In other words, that all of life continuously grow and unfold and expand.
God is in all of Life, in all of creation, is forever seeking to become more conscious of itself in and through all of Life. God is the evolutionary process that runs through the cosmos, always for greater life and expression.
This is what the will of the Spirit God is.
God is forever for us, never against us
And so, God is always for us, never ever against us. God cannot not be for us as being against us would go against the purpose of all existence. Against the will of God. And God cannot contradict itself.
As God is in all things, places, and beings – it means that everything is working for our good. Every single challenge, every single encounter, every single experience is Divinely designed to move us along our unique and perfect path of growth and unfolding.
God truly seeks to always guide and lead us, that we may become forever more yet never less than our true selves. This process of growth and unfolding is what are to surrender to.
Surrender is not the same as acquiescing
Surrendering means letting go and releasing resistance to growth and unfolding. It means releasing our need to control and manipulate, in order to have things the way we want them to be. Even though us humans are an intelligent species, our perspective is strictly limited.
Limited to that which we can perceive with our senses. Which means that whatever it is we may see, hear, feel, taste and smell, is infinitesimal in relation to that which we cannot perceive.
There is only Divine order in the cosmos. No chance, no luck, no coincidence, no happenstance. We may perceive things to happen out of chance and luck, but we always need to remind ourselves that nothing just happens to us, but everything happens just.
Nothing ever comes into our experience uninvited. It either comes because we want it or because we don’t want it.
Surrendering is about getting out of the way
And so surrendering is making a conscious choice to grow and unfold. It is about making the choice to get our little selves out of the way and let God have its sway with us.
It is about becoming willing to say Let Thy Will Be Done - come what may. And then do the inner work necessary to become open, available for that which is seeking to emerge in and through us, to emerge.
It is giving that greater and grander expression permission to come forth, with ease, grace, and dignity.
Surrendering may be asking for help
A practical way to surrender is to ask for help. In times or in circumstances where we feel we lack the strength or ability to do something that we know in our heart is the right thing to do. We may then surrender to that and ask God for help to do it through us.
As we ask for help, we get out of the way. We let go of control and give it over to the presence of God. As we do this, we access the infinite. We go beyond our limited human perception and perspective. Rather we rely on the loving mind of God to lead us to where we need to go.
Surrendering like this is entering into Heaven. Heaven may be described as ever-expanding good. It is a magical journey and a beautiful way to live. Let go and let God – it will bring you the very best of life.
Daniel Roquéo is a freelance writer and founder of The Love & Light Store. He helps individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses do what they may not have the time, inspiration or the skills to do for themselves. Bringing their passions to life through the written word.
HGR emerges from hope: The belief that recovery and joy is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future - that people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers, and obstacles that confront them.
HGR is person- centered/driven: Self-determination and self-concepts are the foundations for HGR individuals as they define their own life goals and design their unique path(s).
HGR occurs via many pathways: Individuals are unique with distinct needs, strengths, preferences, goals, culture, and backgrounds - including trauma experiences - that affects and can determine the pathway(s) to/in the Process of HGR.
HGR is holistic: HGR encompasses an individual's whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. The array of services and supports available should be integrated and coordinated.
HGR is supported by peers and allies: Mutual support and mutual aid from people, small groups that the person builds. Including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills, as well as social learning, play an invaluable role in HGR and in the outcomes.
HGR is supported through relationship and social networks: An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person's ability to recover; who offer hope, support, and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for change.
HGR is culturally-based and influenced: Culture and cultural background in all diverse representations - including values, traditions, faith and beliefs. These are keys in determining a person's journey and unique pathway in HGR.
HGR is supported by addressing traumas: Services and supports should be trauma-informed to foster safety (physical, emotional, mental and spiritually) and trust in the self and others. This helpful to promote choice, empowerment, and collaboration to heal, grow and Recover. '
HGR involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility: Individuals, families, and communities have strengths and resources that serve as a foundation for recovery.
HGR is based on respect: Community, systems, societal acceptance and appreciation for people are crucial in achieving in the process and living a life with Joy.
This article was written by Rev. Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN
Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden
Passion frightens people. We are told to find our passion and pursue it, and simultaneously censured for being too passionate. The world sets out to tame and calm us while telling us to live our passion fully. I unfortunately learned over the years to hide my passion in most situations. Full out laughter might result in someone telling me I was being too loud or that people were looking at me. Crying meant I was just an over-emotional female. Spreading my arms in the night wind inevitably resulted in someone asking me what I was “on” since clearly that kind of passion requires drugs. A lover once told me while I was wrapped in his arms that I was getting carried away, which of course I thought was the point.
And then there is work, where I was told over and over “we can tell you are passionate” in a disapproving tone. This happened everywhere from fund-raising meetings, where one needs a bit of passion, to academic councils where I was bringing new innovative programs for approval. Of course this took place in an academic setting where we ask faculty to share their passion with students, and to fill students with passion for a discipline and lifelong learning.
Over and over again we are instructed to live our passion and then told to tone it down. What if we live our passion and fall completely in love, only to have our hearts broken? What if we find a career we are passionate about and then find after a few years that we have fallen out of love and need a new direction? What if we are passionate about our family and fight to protect them? Or what if we are passionate about an issue, form a non-profit and change the world? A life of passion is dangerous.
This mixed message has hounded and haunted me. Am I having too much fun, too much in love with being alive, or perhaps just too much in love? Why should I dispassionately discuss my passion? Who is allowed to be passionate? Or maybe the question is who is courageous enough to be passionate.
Clearly people on the TED stage are passionate, as are commencement speakers, singers, performers and some fund-raisers. I have loved my passionate teachers and students, as well as the one time I had a fearlessly passionate lover. When I feel truly alive passion fills me, overflowing and dripping from my heart like thick sweet honey. Finding and feeling passion is not the issue, the challenge is having the courage to live it, sharing my honey like wine with a parched world.
I have spent years learning to moderate my voice in meetings, to sound dispassionate about topics that actually demand passion. I have learned to walk calmly and with strength, never displaying joy in my step. It is only when I am alone or with close friends that I let my love of life show on my face and in my demeanor. Until recently.
Something cut through the boundaries and borders of control that I have built over the years, and much like candy dancing free from the restraints of a piñata, my passion has broken free. I do not know where the courage came from to truly show up. Perhaps Kris Kristofferson was right when he wrote “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” And perhaps finding freedom has made show off my passion. Perhaps it was the tango lessons that helped me shift my calm walk to a tango strut. Maybe I finally realized that my ability to laugh is a gift that positively changes the energy in a room. Or perhaps I just know that my meaning and purpose in life comes from being courageous enough to let my passion flow.
This article was written by Elisa Robyn
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
The art of meditation is one of the most profound spiritual practices or techniques we can engage in. Through meditation, we anchor ourselves in the Holy Now which means that we step out of time and into the eternal. The eternal is that which is beyond time.
With this definition, we can be said to be meditating any time we step out of time, out of opinions, judgments or labeling. Whenever we are observing something without having to put a name onto it, we can be said to be meditating.
Even when we are formally meditating, we move in and out of actually meditating. We may be said to be meditating when we “are awake” and fully present. And we are preparing to meditate as we “fall asleep” and get caught up by trains of thought.
When we meditate, we allow ourselves to become still enough to realize that we are not our thoughts, not our bodies and not our emotions. But that we are the one experiencing these. We connect with the truth of our being. We know that we are spiritual beings having a human incarnation. Not merely having a human experience.
The Practice of Meditation
Now, there are different forms of meditation and infinite ways to practice meditation that we will not go into here. However, we are wise to find a meditation practice that best meets our needs and desires.
Whatever form we use to meditate, it is of great need that we do not just sit down without first stating the intention of our sitting. As a spiritual practice, the intention should always be to wake up. To come into a greater realization of that which is real. To have more profound insights that God is all and that we are all in and of God.
As we enter into formal meditation, we do so being alert an aware. Diving deep into the Holy Now, we enter into deep communion with God. We become increasingly open, available and receptive to catch intuitive hits and hunches.
Repetition is the key to growth and unfolding
Repetition is the key to growth and unfolding. And so the more we practice anchoring ourselves in the Holy Now, the more we strengthen our presence muscles. The stronger they are, the easier it will be to remain present. Both in general and when challenging situations or circumstances arise.
In these challenging circumstances, being present is necessary if we want to make use of our ability to choose. To respond rather than react.
Also, if we lose our footing and fall back into time, it will be easier and quicker for us to regain our presence in the eternal once we become aware that we have fallen out of it.
We need to make it a habit to meditate every day in some form or shape. Even if it is just for a few minutes. We are all vibrational beings. As such all our thoughts feelings and actions carry energetic vibrations. All our choices send a vibrational message to the Universe which then corresponds to those vibrations guiding and assisting us accordingly.
By sending the message that we truly desire to take conscious part in the evolution of our soul – God will respond to that and assist us with every means available. This is how we grow and unfold.
Remain non-attached to the outcome of your meditation practice
Another important point with meditation is that we need to remain non-attached to the outcome of it. We have set our intention to meditate to have a closer encounter with God and eternity. However, it is crucial that we do not judge or deem our practice.
Sometimes as we meditate, we are able to maintain a high level of presence. Other time we may be pulled off into fantasy-land the minute we sit down. And we only wake up for brief moments during the entire session.
As with all spiritual practices, the art of meditating should not be performed in order to get something or to get somewhere. We are not here to make or force anything to happen. But we are here merely to allow something to happen in and through us.
We sit and meditate knowing that we are precisely where we are supposed to be and that all that happens is working together for our good.
There are so many benefits from meditation. So much to be grateful for. It is a blessed practice. The practice of non-action – which is really the basis of all action. Giving thanks for the meditation practice is a beautiful way to both start and end each session.
Daniel Roquéo is a freelance writer and founder of The Love & Light Store.
He helps individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses do what they may not have the time, inspiration or the skills to do for themselves. Bringing their passions to life through the written word.
It is so easy so easily to slip back into the old person you have been. In the past 12 days I have shared 12 principles of Emotional Intelligence ways to identify things in all of us and myself that we can work on. For me I could have easily trudged along on my well-trodden path of negative self-talk, comfortably overanalyzing, and well-worn pessimistic beliefs about myself. I sound almost human. Honestly, for all of us we can return to the old patterns so easily. It becomes a habit, if you will.
We already have the knowledge of how to do it, it is almost automatic, and it is comfortable because we used to use it. To not use those old habits and known self-destructive thoughts and behaviors takes dedicated work. As you do the dedicated work and are intentional about the change your making it becomes easier and you will end up not thinking about the changes and will just use them. The old, destructive habits are still in in you, yet you do not use them or even consider them as appropriate. It is the same as Recovery.
Ignite yourself, reread the past days writing, formulate your change plan and get to work. In those great words from Larry the Cable Guy: “Get Er Done”.
"What do I need?"
Lasting change in our lives will not be created and maintained, when we lack faith and belief in ourselves and our ignited mission. I truly believe that something has ignited inside of you. I bet that there is nothing else, worthy of your attention toward the change you need or want to make in you. So, what is it that need or want? Think honestly—what has really spoken to your heart and mind; what is whispering to you?
Free write these down and remember them as you move into the next phase. Free write means to write down everything that is in your heart and the edit it down.
"How do I get there? "Now that we've been specific, it is time to develop the steps toward success. What are the steps you can take to get to these changes? What acts, done consistently over time, will lead you to your change? Write them down, put them somewhere visible, and do them. There are a few tips to successfully latching on to new habits, if you haven't already found your own ways of doing so. Attach them to a current habit (I will count my blessings while I brush my teeth). Create a daily affirmation list, Create a daily to-do list and smile big when you check it off! Be vulnerable with a friend, boyfriend, Husband or wife, tell them your goals and ask them to help keep you accountable, or listen to a podcast on the skill you are wanting to practice. I recommend “Fit for Joy” to boost your awareness of the skill. Set a concrete time for practicing.
Whatever ends up working for you, don't forget to reflect. Take time to measure your progress, whether it is with a journal, a therapist, a friend, or a spreadsheet. Ready, set, PRACTICE!
Have Fun With Your Health, Growth & Recovery. In other word Yourself.
Center for Healing, Growth & Recovery Ministries
All right reserved, 4/2019
A recent Wall Street Journal special report on health care included a revealing article titled “Where Are the Mental-Health Providers?” Reporter Louise Radnofsky presents convincing evidence and sounds the alarm about the increasing difficulty of finding much-needed mental health care in many regions of the United States.
Radnofsky quotes statistics from a recent study by Mental Health America, a patient advocacy group. The study found that while 42.5 million adults in the United States have a mental illness (18% of the population), the ratio of mental health providers to people in the US is just 1:790, while only 41% of people with a mental illness report receiving treatment.
“That’s prompting a sea change in attitudes among mental health advocates,” Radnofsky writes, “who are starting to look at solutions that are broader than just training more psychiatrists.”
It’s about time. In this month’s article and book excerpt, I explain my thinking on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde nature of trauma treatment by psychiatrist-prescribed medications. I will stress again that there is an important role for psychotropic drugs in effective therapy. But—too often—drugs are presented as the complete answer for trauma sufferers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Chemically locking away traumatic memories may help people temporarily, as I’ve outlined above. But I firmly believe that the hope for healing lies in unearthing and resolving the painful past. Drugs can make this process all but impossible when patients have great difficulty accessing their memories. And, over time, serious and life-compromising side effects of medication pile up.
Well-trained psychotherapists play a vital role in our nation’s mental health. I’m all in favor of greater recognition of this serious gap in our mental health system.
By Dr. Peter Bernstein
*** "This article was written and originally published when Peter Bernstein, PhD was a licensed psychotherapist. His practice has evolved and he is currently a life coach, mentor and consultant."
“Trauma and its psychological wounds often destroy relationships, families, and communities, even claiming lives.” - From Trauma: Healing the Hidden Epidemic
Last month, we looked at the ways unresolved trauma affects, or almost “infects” relationships. We examined both the practical and the personal burdens that partners of individuals with unresolved trauma can bear. But what happens when both individuals in a relationship—a family, a marriage, a business partnership—carry wounds from the past?
Yours, Mine and Ours
The challenges in a relationship where both individuals carry unresolved trauma can be illustrated by considering the challenges in blending a step-family. As in a marriage between two individuals with children from other relationships, each individual may bring personal difficulties into the relationship that have nothing to do with their new partner, family member, or loved-one. These painful issues may express themselves in a variety of negative or undesirable symptoms and behaviors.
Each individual in the relationship may have some awareness of their own troubling issues. Each individual may also have some awareness of the emotional difficulties their new partners struggle with. Often, however, such awarenesses are hard to grasp. A great deal of confusion and conflict can arise in the day-to-day give-and-take of relationships when pain from the past is influencing behavior and attitudes in the present.
The confusion only deepens when the third set of challenges arise. To use our illustration, if the painful issues of each individual are the “yours” and “mine” stepchildren of the blended family, the third set of painful challenges will be the “ours” children, or the issues the new couple have with each other. These are the challenges and difficulties which arise precisely because of the nature of being in relationship.
Putting it briefly, two key ingredients in significant relationships are intimacy and dependency. For traumatized individuals, intimacy and dependency are very substantial challenges in themselves. The experience of trauma—whether prolonged developmental trauma or events of shock trauma—frequently, if not always, damages an individual’s ability to trust and feel safe in the world. Healthy intimacy and dependency require some ability to trust, and the willingness to allow that trust to grow and deepen. Individuals must be able to feel some essential element of safety in the relationship and be willing to help create a safe place for their partners and loved-ones.
Often, individuals with unresolved trauma lack the objectivity and awareness to sort out the “yours, mine, and ours” in their relationships. They may find themselves creating unfulfilling, destructive relationships over and over in similar patterns, or their painful pasts may be so overwhelming that they avoid relationships altogether. Competent, effective counseling can help with the sorting-out process to help individuals heal and strengthen their relationships.
By Dr. Peter Bernstein
*** "This article was written and originally published when Peter Bernstein, PhD was a licensed psychotherapist. His practice has evolved and he is currently a life coach, mentor and consultant."