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Peter's Blog

I have found that my life experiences shaped what I believe about myself. I realized that many of the things I believed about myself were based on wrong conclusions and false beliefs, due to trauma in my life.  The freedom I have found has been a result of seeking truth and choosing to believe what is true about me.  Often my clients will ask me during a session, "Do you have any of this in writing?"  This blog is my attempt to share the universal truths I have discovered.  Revelations 12:11 says that they overcame by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (story).  God's grace has been abundant in my life and my story has become strong.  I invite you to experience God's grace and write a powerful story of your life.

General



Grief and the Holidays
The holiday season is a difficult time for many people.  It does not always bring tidings of comfort and joy but of regret, sorrow and loss.  For those who have experienced loss they feel the pain and grief of that loss particularly at the Holidays.
 
Grief is a normal and common response to loss.  While it is a normal occurrence, God did not create us to experience loss.  Loss came about because of sin. This is what makes grief so difficult and different for everyone.   Grief is the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one—which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief—but any loss can cause grief.
 
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” These stages of grief were based on her studies of the feelings of patients facing terminal illness, but many people have generalized them to other types of negative life changes and losses, such as the death of a loved one or a relationship break-up.  People experience grief over a variety of loss such as a job loss, failure of a business, or loss of a home.
 
The five stages of grief
  1. Denial - Denial occurs as a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality, etc., relating to the situation concerned. It's a defense mechanism and perfectly natural. Some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with a traumatic change that can be ignored. Death of course is not particularly easy to avoid or evade indefinitely.
  1. Anger - Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves, and/or with others, especially those close to them.
  1. Bargaining - Traditionally the bargaining stage for people facing death can involve attempting to bargain with God. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. For example "Can we still be friends?.." when facing a break-up. Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution, especially if it's a matter of life or death.
  1. Depression - Also referred to as preparatory grieving. In a way it's the dress rehearsal or the practice run for the 'aftermath' although this stage means different things depending on whom it involves. It's a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It's natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality.
  1. Acceptance - This stage is an indication that there is some emotional detachment and objectivity. People dying can enter this stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must necessarily pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the grief.
Grief Cycle
People enter a cycle of grief when experiencing loss.  Each stage of the cycle and the resulting emotions may occur simultaneously.  This complicates the experience of grief as a person floats in and out of each stage creating emotional chaos that the person attempts...

Posted by Peter M. on 12/15/2016

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa

Over the holiday’s I heard the classic Christmas song “I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”  The original recording by Jimmy Boyd was recorded on July 15, 1952 when he was 13 years old.  The song describes a scene where a child walks downstairs on Christmas Eve to see his mother kissing "Santa Claus" (his father in a Santa Claus costume) under the mistletoe.  While with extended family my 22-year-old nephew told me the true meaning of this song.  I was flabbergasted when I realized I had given this song the wrong meaning for over 50 years.  

I had interpreted the meaning of the song through the false conclusions from my childhood.  I never saw my parents show affection or even kiss.  So when I heard the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause” it was filtered through the dysfunction of my childhood and I concluded it was about being unfaithful.  I was dumbfounded when I realized the true meaning of the song that daddy was Santa Claus. 

I have noticed how couples emotionality leads to misinterpreting things that are said between each other.  I often find myself asking clients “What meaning are you giving that statement?”  Recently in session, a spouse made a factual comment.  I observed her husband becoming defensive and offended and asked what meaning he gave her comment.  He responded saying she had rejected him.  I asked her if she was rejecting him and she said no.  He was able to see that her comment went through his filter but was not based on what was true but rather a false belief he held.

People form conclusions based on experiences they encounter in life. Often these conclusions are false and the result of others behavior towards us, and no fault of our own.  Healing involves discovering what is true about me apart from my experiences and reframing events in light of this truth. 

In our interactions with others, it becomes necessary to ask ourselves what meaning I give something said to me and is it true.  One thing you can count on in marriage is conflict.  Whether it is not shutting cabinet doors, drinking milk from the carton or leaving dirty clothes on the floor there will always be something to complain about.  We create distance when we become offended by something our spouse says or does and give it meaning it does not have.  Choosing to not be offended necessitates that we exercise empathy and ask ourselves “why would they say or do that?”  “What is the true meaning of their words or action?”  By asking these questions we begin to enter our spouses world and hear their heart.

If we believe the best about our loved ones, then we can begin to discover why certain behaviors bother us.  When upset I often ask myself, “Why is this triggering me?  When do I remember feeling this in my youth?”  Then I look to be sure I am not giving it meaning it does not have.  If I am unsure, I ask the other person why they said or did that.  If we can begin to operate from a position of not being offended by our spouse, then conflict will only be conflict and not mean I am not loved, respected or valuable.  Remember, Santa was daddy.

Posted by Peter M. on 02/15/2016

The Power of Sharing Feelings

I was at a shopping mall recently and observed an elderly couple walking together hand in hand.  I wondered how long had they been married and what their life journey must have been.  I hoped that some day my wife and I would be as old as them walking hand in hand at the twilight of our life.

A healthy marriage is three-dimensional encompassing emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy. Marriages that regularly experience all three levels of intimacy weather the storms of life creating the kind of bond I witnessed with the elderly couple in the mall.

Recently a client shared a letter he sent to his wife after an argument.  He wanted to “step into the relationship” by sharing his feelings with her.  He was able validate her feelings, affirm her and risk sharing how he was feeling. 

Emotional intimacy is experienced when we risk being vulnerable and expose our most tender feelings and in return are heard and validated.  The outcome of this clients exchange was a deeper level of intimacy and trust being built between them.

Husbands letter to his wife

My dear sweet Wife,

There are so many things that I love about you. I love your creativity, how you are able to see the beauty in things and create something that expresses it’s beauty to share with others.

I love your tender heart for others and how this gentleness reaches out to those hurting, even when you don’t know them. It upsets you to hear me be critical or judgmental of strangers I see on the street and make comments.  I love how you honor the value that God places on people by seeing the good and lovely in people.  I love how you have been my champion. Even when I didn’t believe in me, you did. You have been my constant companion always believing the best about me.

You are one of the most beautiful women I have ever met, inside and out. Your beauty flows from the strength of your character.  I love that you love God more than you love me. I love your dedication and commitment to him above all else. I love that you get up every morning to meet with him. I love that you pray for me and hear God on my behalf.  You are the most valuable thing outside of Christ in my life.

I am struggling to find intimacy with you that I have never been able to have because of my fear of being rejected. I recognize that his fear is so ingrained that in my most intimate relationship with you, I am often afraid to risk. This is my fear to conquer; my battle to wage; this does not say anything about you. This is about my fear and what God is compelling me to do, to fight.

You see if I can push through and find intimacy with you, I am convinced that I will find the kind of intimacy with Him that has evaded me my whole life. Understand, I feel close to God and often feel his presence, but I know he wants a deeper relationship with Him. And I believe He wants to use our relationship to accomplish this...for me and for you. He is after our hearts.

I felt hurt by your anger tonight. Please forgive me for triggering your anger. I know at times I am self-absorbed which is damaging to such a precious and gentle heart like yours. I feel sorrow over driving you to that place of anger.

Part of being intimate is sharing how one feels, including and perhaps most importantly those powerful feelings that attempt to falsely define us. If I am clumsy about that I am sorry.

I work hard and diligently at not letting shame define who I am. I have done terrible things and hurt you at the core of who you are. I will forever be sorry for that and grieve the pain that I have caused you. I want to be able to validate your pain my past actions have inflicted upon you.

Your words about “Tennessee” felt accusatory. They cut me and pushed me to a place of mistrust and defensiveness. I don’t like th...

Posted by Peter M. on 01/23/2016

Attachment Theory

Attachment is an emotional bond to another person and is described as a “bond or tie between an individual and an attachment figure (Prior & Glaser, 2006, p. 15).”  In its simplest explanation, attachment theory involves mothers being available and responsive to their infants’ needs, resulting in establishing a sense of security for the child.  An attachment is thus formed.

Psychologist John Bowlby was the first to articulate attachment theory.  Mary Ainsworth and others later followed his work.  Attachment theory centers on the bond that an infant develops with his/her caregiver.  It is seen as proximity-seeking to the attachment figure when the child feels threatened.  Bowlby originally formulated his theory as a start-stop system (Prior & Glaser, 2006).  When a child experiences comfort the system is relaxed.  Attachment behavior is activated when discomfort occurs.  There four stages of attachment development.

  • Phase 1 – Orientation and signals without discrimination of figure (Bowlby)
  • Initial pre-attachment (Ainsworth)
  • Phase 2 – Orientation and signals directed towards one (or more) discriminated figure(s) (Bowlby)
  • Attachment-in-the-making (Ainsworth)
  • Phase 3 – Maintenance of proximity to a discriminated figure by means of locomotion as well as signals (Bowlby)
  • Clear-cut attachment (Ainsworth)
  • Phase 4 – Formation of goal-corrected partnership (Bowlby and Ainsworth) (Prior & Glaser, 2006, p. 19).
Phase one occurs from birth to 8 weeks of age in which the infants develops behaviors designed to attract the attention of caregivers.  Phase two occurs from 8 weeks until 6 months where the infant begins to be able to discriminate familiar and unfamiliar adults.  Phase three occurs between 6 and 7 months of age and potentially beyond one year.  With the child now able to move from place to place the infant begins to explore while recognizing his caregiver as his base to explore.  During the final phase the child begins to see his/her mother figure as an independent figure from him/herself (Prior & Glaser, 2006).

Through her research Mary Ainsworth described three characteristics of attachment; secure attachment, ambivalent attachment, and avoidant attachment.  Secure attachment occurs when a child that is in distress receive the comfort sought from their caregivers.  Ambivalent attachment occurs when the child becomes distressed whenever the caregiver leaves.  While this is seen as uncommon, it is thought to be a result of poor maternal availability.  The child with avoidant attachment avoids the caregivers when given the choice between the caregiver and a stranger.  This is thought to be the result of abusive or neglectful behavior of the caregivers.

Fundamental in the concept of attachment theory is the idea that a basic need being developed and nurtured is one of trust.  Understanding attachment theory helps therapists deal with clients problems at very basic and core levels – the need to be able to trust others and feel loved.  From my perspective resolving issues of inability of clients to trust is rooted in the understanding of how this basic need was met or not.  Using attachment development theory opens the understanding of what clients need and why they are unable to find it as an adult.

Erik Erikson identified eight stages of development that begin at birth and end at death.  These stages trust autonomy, initiative, industry, identity, intimacy, ...

Posted by Peter M. on 12/20/2015

Recovering from being wounded
Life is made up of experiences we have and the conclusions we draw from them. Emotions are attached to these experiences, which over repetition become beliefs. If the meaning we have given these experiences is not grounded in what is true, then our behavior is driven by feelings based on false beliefs instead of what is true about ourselves.
 
We all will be wounded and we will wound others that are close to us. If there is a system in place of restoration then our spirits can experience healing. If there is not a system in place, or that system is not accessed, then there is no healing of the wounded spirit. Defense mechanisms develop to help us survive as we build walls of protection to keep out further wounding.

TYPES OF WOUNDING: 

  1. Intrusive wounding – Wounds that are committed against you (i.e. sexual, physical, emotional abuse.
  2. Non-intrusive wounding – Wounds that are of omission such as neglect.
CORE NEEDS
Emotional – love, acceptance, purpose or significance
Physical – food, nutrition
Spiritual – uniqueness, worship, know God, meaning of life 
Psychological – purpose, significance, work
Mental – creative expression, vision
 
Belief System Check-in is the process that addresses the walls we build to protect us when wounded. 

This restoration begins first with restoring our relationship and intimacy with God.  Start recovery where the presenting problem is. Sexual addiction penetrates down to our wounded spirit (core needs).
RESTORATION
This restoration begins first with restoring our relationship and intimacy with God.
 
Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  1. We must commit to step 1 100%.
  2. The lie from Satan resides in step 1. It must be completely exposed.
  3. Dirt – Things I have control over
    Seeds – wounding
    Trees – beliefs
    Fruit - behavior
  4. Cut the trees eliminate the fruit.
  5. Pull the roots eliminate the beliefs.
 Step 2 – Came to believe that Jesus Christ could restore us to sanity.
  1. Fill the chasm from pulled roots with healthy behaviors.

PROBLEM: ADDICTION

We start recovery where the presenting problem is. Addictions penetrate down to our wounded spirit (core needs).
  1. Detox (stop the addictive behaviors)
  2. Address disorders
  3. Expose barriers and/or compulsions
  4. Gain awareness
  5. Begin to shut/tear down barriers
  6. Address core...

Posted by Peter M. on 12/19/2015

   
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