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Negative Responses

Negative responses in Pastoral Counseling. 

 Yes, that happens. Someone reminded me that I should expect negativity among those I counsel and pray for and love the person with greater  concern .

 It takes a persistence, a positivity, and a personalization repetitively to get through the filters in the client. It works though. 

One commented to me yesterday on how much they appreciated that I keep coming back, I don’t give up on them. It is breaking through the cloud. Another commented that they are now doing the same for others. They are tapering their anger and finding themselves less and less aggressive when upset and more and more listening.

Do you find yourself stuck in the negative thought stream? You can beat it. It is worth the journey.

Message me phil@shepherdok.com .  Let’s move forward.  As a pastoral counselor, I am available for online consultations along with onsite.

The World is No Longer Flat and Other Myths

Many programs and approaches used daily to assist those strugglers with addiction, depression, anxiety. Ptsd, and other mental health interruptions presume incurable disease. Yet, research over the last 4 decades in cognitive behavioral therapy and positive psychology have shown a different light. Much like the day a man broke the 4 minute mile in running, the undoable was done and others are running as fast. Work by Drs. Aaron Beck and Martin Seligman have broken mental health science into territory of healing and health. 

So why do we continue to do what we have always done and get the same results? Change comes slow. Old school resists new strength.  That is a tale of mankind.  We discover new venues and hold fast to what we know for long seasons.

In this area, it can be sad.  A Struggler stays under longterm depression, when solutions to interrupt and build a new and hopeful life are passed over.  Another misses days without anxieties and stressful mental stretching because there is not a recent trained positive psychology practitioner in the area.  Some grasp incurable disease model because that is all they know and all they have been taught.

We are committed to get the word out. It will take more decades of declaring healthful and hopefhopeful living is within reach of most.  Nothing works for everyone, right? But no road will take you there if you don’t know where you are going.  Go toward health, hope, and healing.

These are not spiritual solutions, though the research points to evidence that you should include spiritual components in any approach to overall mental health. I believe in Spiritual solutions and scientific mental health solutions. Spirit and science work powerfully together, there is no conflict. Truth is truth.

Get the word out. Encourage and inform those you love. Ask your physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, therapist would CBT or posite psychology be for you. The world is no longer flat.

Beating the Statistics: Building Resiliency

Elijah’s Journey

Fear and failure are faithful teachers of exemplary courage.

Studies :

Why men aren’t working

The problem is particularly pronounced among men between the ages of 25 and 54, traditionally considered the prime working years. Their participation rate has been declining for decades, but the drop-off accelerated during the recession. The high mark was 98 percent in 1954, and it now stands at 88 percent. A new analysis from the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, slated for release Monday, found that the United States now has the third-lowest participation rate for “prime-age men” among the world’s developed countries.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/20/why-americas-men-arent-working/?utm_term=.92a5f5501db9

What is going on here?  Our unemployment statistics are skewed. They don’t include non participants. They don’t include thousands of men, who have taken the low road of living off momma or the taxes of the working people (the government).  What is going on here?

Opioid addiction

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug

overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths

related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in

  1. 5 Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2010–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:1445–1452. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm655051e1

https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/overview/key_data.html

Now, we have to face this other incredible factor of fear.  Suicide is climbing. It is attacking older and older Americans as a outcome of choice.  Why come to the place of abject despair and check out?

Preponderance of violent death in teens and white men.

In a follow-up to their groundbreaking 2015 work, they say that a lack of steady, well-paying jobs for whites without college degrees has caused pain, distress and social dysfunction to build up over time. The mortality rate for that group, ages 45 to 54, increased by a half percent each year from 1999 to 2013. NPR

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/23/521083335/the-forces-driving-middle-aged-white-peoples-deaths-of-despair

Violent death among older white men and younger everyone is disturbing.  Why would youth and aged both take the same path?

Past failures predict strength  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/04/health/04mind.html?mwrsm=Email&_r=0

In short, the findings suggest that mental toughness is something like the physical strength: It cannot develop without exercise, and it breaks down when overworked. Some people in the study reported having had more than a dozen stressful events, and it showed.

With all of the preponderance of death stands this oppositional study, or is it?  When you dig through the details you find that a few disasters, deaths, job loss build strength.  A continual stream destroys the internal engine of the mind and negates natural resiliency, come back power.

Job loss is one of the most powerful of all forces of destruction, especially when you had no input to the issues. Losing a job is one of the most stressful life experiences, so it’s normal to feel angry, hurt, depressed, scared, grief at all that you’ve lost, or anxious about what the future holds. Job loss and unemployment involves a lot of change all at once which can rock your sense of purpose and self-esteem. While the stress can seem overwhelming, there are many things you can do to take control of the situation, maintain your spirits, and come out of this difficult period stronger and more resilient. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/job-loss-and-unemployment-stress.htm

A person who has six high intensity items in a period of a few years ends up in a destructive phase.  Death, job loss, car wreck, divorce, debilitating disease, etc tear at the mental fabric of the soul.  Given time to rebound and rebuild, we become stronger. Given a flurry and no time to rebuild and we find ourselves destroyed.

Elijah’s Journey

He is faithful even when we think ourselves faithless.

I kings 19:4

3 Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

1 Timothy 2: 8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

11 Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,

    we will also live with him;

12 if we endure,

    we will also reign with him.

If we disown him,

    he will also disown us;

13 if we are faithless,

    he remains faithful,

    for he cannot disown himself.

14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things

So How Do We Respond in Covenant?

 

Elijah had a covenant with God based on faithfulness.  Elijah submitted himself as a servant to God to follow His ways.  God committed Himself in faithfulness to provide a successful life.  True, that life could be tough at times, but always coming to a good end.

When we are pressed to the wall in life there are a few tips to bouncing back well and being stronger for the next thing.

  1. Get busy bouncing back as quickly as possible. The longer you dwell on the downside, the longer your pain and the less your resiliency for the next issue.  Now, give yourself some space.  A major downside can take 3-5 years to process the grief.  But that does not mean you have to dwell on it and live in it.  You can begin being active on the solutions rapidly.  Elijah took a vacation to the mountains and looked for restoration.  He then came back into the world and began a big journey.
  2. Engage others. Elijah went to Elisha and others as soon as he brought his head up.  He had been on a lonely trek for many years as part of his journey and service.  It was time to get into the group and let others hold him up.  Don’t walk alone.
  3. Listen to the voice of your biggest supporter. Elijah’s biggest supporter was God. I pray your biggest supporter is God. If you allow Him to be, He is. But if you have not reached that point of friendship with God, then allow Him to speak through someone else.  Your biggest supporter might know you better than you know yourself on the downside.
  4. Surround yourself with empowering voices. I hate to say this, but people who love us might be the worst in a time of big pain.  They will drag you back to where you were when the pain happened.  That might not be a good place to go.  If we go back to where we were, we will come back to where we are.  Remember that.
  5. Do something. Okay. Quit the pity party.  Get up and be a servant of faith.  Serve. Serve.  Serve others.  Quit seeking your solution and be the solution for others.

Flowers in the Rocks

Flowers in the Rocks

Five years ago in a period of two months, Dian and I went through the loss of her father, my favorite aunt, a good friend in Mexico during a mission trip, and relatives of each of our three married-in kids. In the same time frame we went through a corporate reorganization that directly impacted five operations I was directing, betrayals by trusted friends, some high stress incidents affecting our children and a major automobile accident.  We used the opportunity of change to redefine our lives and daily living. 

I am proud of my wife of 39 years and all my children (born, married in, and those who have adopted me) that stand with us. I am proud of friends who support us in the changes and laser focus of fixing fractured families.

Not one day of the five years has been easy. Every day has been wonderfully fulfilling and thousands of lives have been changed for the better. God is faithful. Read it again. God is faithful.

This picture was taken during a day of prayer and neditation and processing in the hard rock country of Western Oklahoma. There is beauty in hardship. Hardship is the pathway to peace. 

Today I move from giving 1-on-1 counseling for anger control to studying expanded therapeutic techniques to prayer and counseling with folks working through probation, parole, state custody of their children to Pastors of huge and small congregations, lawyers, and business professionals. I am in court testifying and community organizations advising.  I speak to thousands of state legislators and publish life change books.  

The phone never rests, emails continually come, texts go out and in, and messages come across multiple social media channels. 

People discover hope and healing. Family fractures are fixed.  God is good.  Read it again. God is good. 

Maybe you are processing changes in your life.  Remember two things. God is faithful. God is good.  Now go find the flowers in the rocks.

It Can Be Done When You Help – Young Families In Need

Source: It Can Be Done When You Help – Young Families In Need

Watch “7 Faith Actions To Restore Hope and Healing” on YouTube

The Persistence of Suicide

Every 14.2 minutes a successful suicide

Every 34 seconds an attempted suicide.

Why?

Psychologist, sociologist, and theologian generally agree that suicide means giving up on life.  Someone has reached a point where hope has left the horizon and the pain of living is greater than the desire to live.  That is mega pain.  Instinctually, communally, and in faith we are leaned to living.  Everything about us individually and relational wants to live and gave meaning and purpose.  What happens to destroy such a powerful force in a thriving human?

Every situation is a little different.  One is abused or denigrated or stripped of portions of humananity.  Another meets horrendous circumstance from which there seems no retreat or advance.  A sort of limbo leading to destruction looms in heart and mind. I can’t see my way out so I take what I see.

For some attempted suicides are cries for help and compassion.  They are hoping someone leans into their pain with hope and healing.  But any attempt is an acceptance that you might be successful.

St Augustin in the City of God explored the subject. My summary? On their way to dying, they died.  We are all intended for physical death from the moment of conception.  We are all intended for significance during those minutes or hours or weeks or months or years of life. The two are complimentary. Suicide strips the latter destiny short.

Suicide is certainly not the unforgivable sin.  It does leave an indelible mark on the social soul of the remnant that live. Our questions are unanswerable? Could I have done more? Did I contribute to the angst? Is there something I can do to prevent the next?

The last questions has answers. The first two are personal to your situation and should certainly not to be left unanswered in quiet counsel between you and God and mentor. Social conversations are not the place to seek understanding to these. 

What about, ‘What do I do now for other?’

1. Get trained in mental health first aid. Be a first responder to family and friend.  https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org

2. Take an inventory of the people in your 36 square feet of change.  3 ft to your right and left and be for and behind could be someone in distress.  After addressing suicide this week in a conversation, one listener cane to me the next day. “That was me you were discussing. I was that person looking to leave.  Now. I have hope.” I had missed clues, hut now am watching closely.

3. Build your faith foundation. Hope is a powerful force.  Faith is more so.  Faith splits resistive pain with healing balm. Build it. Use it.  Hclive.org

The Think Doctor – Phil