The Power of Community

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The Power of Community

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

We were designed by God to love and be loved, know and be known, serve and be served. These are some of the greatest gifts we can ever give and receive. Simply put, we are created to live in community with one another. It is in this context that we are propelled to flourish in our relationships and every other area of our lives.

Building a strong, supportive community is arguably never more important than when navigating our marriages. It’s not only a matter of surrounding ourselves with people, but choosing the right people. Here are three ways you can seek out and build healthy community around you.

FIND A LOCAL CHURCH AND GET PLUGGED IN.

The best place to find like-minded people is in your local church. If you’re not a part of a church, and frustrated by the lack of quality people in your life, that is the very best place to start. If you’re willing to embrace the process wholeheartedly, it is your best bet to building lasting relationships in your life.

Each Sunday, churches all around the world open their doors. Everybody is welcome, and the possibilities are endless. Most churches make it easy to narrow your options, finding places you can serve and smaller groups you can join. As programmed as it may sound, it is most often a place where getting plugged in can lead to growing relationships organically within the safe framework of the church.

SEEK OUT PEOPLE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE YOU.

Wisdom doesn’t always come with experience, but when it does, it is an invaluable resource. Finding people who have been married longer than you, who are godly, and who are open to sharing their successes and failures is worth its weight in gold for your marriage. Look for people whose marriages you would like to model. Ask them if they would be willing to mentor you, or simply spend some time together.

Being married comes with a unique set of challenges. Parts of us are revealed that we never knew existed, and it can be so easy to think we are the only people facing certain challenges. One powerful thing we have realized is that you’re never alone in your challenges. Finding people with more experience will often reveal that. They have worked through the things you are going through, are stronger for it, and may even be able to laugh about it now. They can provide powerful perspective and help you feel less alone. They may just be the most valuable form of community you can find.

SEEK COUNSELING

The thought of seeking counseling can be a source of shame in our culture. For a minute though, shift your mind from counseling as being a negative, to it being a source of building healthy community around you.

It’s simply never wise to face our problems alone. And if you’re feeling isolated in any area of your life, a good Christian counselor may be the saving grace you have been looking for. There is nothing to be ashamed of in seeking counseling. In fact, your marriage may be going better than it ever has. It could be argued that even in the best of times, counseling is wise. Wouldn’t you rather do damage control than disaster clean-up?

Counselors are trained professionals who have spent time and energy into helping people through the common life issue that we all face. A good counselor can provide a safe, objective view on your unique situation. They are trained to get you to the source of your feelings and equip you to better deal with your relationships. Some of the strongest marriages around have sought or keep regular counseling. It’s a powerful way to build and sustain your marriage and the community around you.

We simply weren’t meant to do this life alone. Building a strong community around you may take time, but is well worth the investment into your relationships, and especially your marriage. There is strength in numbers, and power in community! Seek it today if you don’t have it, and work to keep it if you do! It’s the only way to do life the way we were created to.

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If you would like help in developing healthy community or working through the hurts of an unhealthy community, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our counselors or coaches.

 

Why Your Anger Builds Until You Explode

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Why Your Anger Builds Until You Explode

Profile of man screaming.By Brent Flory

Do you struggle to keep your temper in check? Do you find yourself feeling angrier throughout the day until you are ready to lose control? Is it all you can do to not take out your work frustrations on your family?

Once at basketball practice in high school, I became so incensed by a teammate’s trash talking that I picked him up in a bearhug, determined to hurt him. After about five seconds of awkwardly holding him in the air, I remembered that I had no idea how to fight, so I put him down and we moved on with practice.

Unfortunately, too many stories of people becoming furious end in great harm or tragedy, rather than the comedy of my high school experience. Whether it is road rage, shootings, or some other situation, we are all too familiar with examples of people becoming angry to the point of violence.

What is going on within us that can drive us to this point of losing control?

According to the search of psychologist Dolf Zillmann, anger is evoked when we believe our safety is in jeopardy, whether we are talking physical, emotional, or psychological safety. We can become just as angry if someone hurts our feelings or wounds our pride as we do when we feel physically threatened.

The Effects of Anger on Our Brain

1. It triggers a release of catecholamines, prepping the body with energy for the fight-or flight response.

You have a sudden influx of energy, so you are prepared to take action and combat your opponent, or run depending upon whether or not you fear them.

2. It triggers adrenocortical arousal, keeping you on edge for hours or even days.

This longer reaction keeps you ready to fight or take flight much more quickly in case the threat returns, or another shows up. This is why people who have had a difficult day are so quick to escalate and blow up if something else happens.

How Your Anger Builds

When a high-rise apartment complex is being constructed, the building gets taller as each floor is added on top of the others. Anger works in a similar fashion. According to Dr. Zillmann, anger builds upon itself. After the initial event that makes you angry, you are on edge, and every incident or thought that incites you further grows the level of your outrage.

For example:

  • At breakfast, your spouse comments that she is concerned about your weight gain, which you interpret as an intended insult.
  • As you are getting into your car, your neighbor criticizes how your lawn looks for the fourth time in the last two weeks.
  • Your manager yells at you and blames you personally for your team being late in completing the design prototype. To make matters worse, his outburst takes place in front of your team and you feel humiliated.
  • On the drive home, you keep ruminating on how your boss embarrassed you, replaying the situation through your mind over and over again.
  • After dinner, you ask your teenager about her homework, and when she gives a sarcastic response, you blow up at her.

Each incident that upsets you and comes later in this process evokes a far higher level of anger than if it had been an isolated occurrence. Just as the apartment complex reaches higher and higher, so does uncheck anger until it builds into unfiltered rage.

This building process has to be interrupted before you lose control.

 

Funday Friday Punny Humor

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Here is a punny joke for your Funday Friday humor:

brake fluid pun

Is Work Unhappiness All in Your Mind?

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Is Work Unhappiness All in Your Mind?

By Linda Mintle

Jeff has been struggling to go to work everyday. He desperately needs his job to pay bills and provide for his family, but this past year, he has grown disenchanted with his work environment. So much so, that he thinks about quitting. He knows he can’t and feels trapped in an unhappy job.

Being unhappy at work, can spill over to family life. Even in a tough economy, no one likes to be in a job that makes him or her unhappy. But happiness on the job may relate to something you never expected—your ability to stay present. Yes, happiness has everything to do with what is going on in your mind.

Think of all the times you find yourself distracted at work–you worry over a deadline, are upset with a co-worker, wonder what you will make for dinner, are mentally scheduling your next dental appointment, etc.  Worry and thinking about the future are distracting. This mental habit can take your focus off the task at hand and create such distraction that you find yourself not engaging in the here and now. And when you are not here and now focused, you risk your happiness.

Harvard researchers discovered that if your mind wanders during work, this could be the source of on-the-job unhappiness. And according to the researchers, our minds wander about 47% of the time anyway.

In the Harvard study that utilized an iPHONE app and received feedback from more than 15,000 people from countries all over the world, mind wandering occurred on the job about 50% of the time.

What the researchers concluded was that we humans spend a great deal of time thinking about things that are not happening in the moment. And apparently, a wandering mind is an unhappy mind–something religious groups have thought to be true for years. We are reminded by Jesus not to worry about tomorrow and to remember that God is with us at every step of our earthly journey.

So if you want to get happy on the job, stay in the moment and let go of worry. Worry is future focused and steals our joy and contributes to job unhappiness.

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If you would like to talk to someone about your work stress, worry, and/or unhappiness, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or a counselor.

 

Secrets to Creating Awesome Dates

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Secrets to Creating Awesome Dates

By Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott

Dating your spouse is a great way to sustain and nurture the intimacy in your marriage. We highly recommend taking the time to have a regular date night with your husband or wife. Taking time away from your day-to-day life to focus on one another is a fantastic way to stay connected in spite of whatever else is going on in your life.

Today, we’re sharing a few ways you and your spouse can create awesome dates–and great memories along the way.

TIE UP LOOSE ENDS AT HOME

This may sound like a strange way to create an amazing date, but especially if you have children, it’s essential to tie up as many loose ends as you can at home before you leave for your date. Identify any urgent or pressing tasks that need doing or issues that need to be resolved before you leave the house. (We don’t necessarily mean dishes and laundry–those can wait!)

Put in the effort before your date to remove as many potential distractions as possible, and reap the rewards. Your spouse will thank you!

DITCH THE NEGATIVITY

Make it a point to only talk with one another about positive things that spark happiness and romance. No news, politics, complex home issues, relationship problems, or negativity allowed!

Allowing a conversation to take a bad turn, or venturing into negative territory, can easily and quickly kill the mood of your date–and it will be hard to recover from. So it’s your job to work together to keep your special time on track for good feelings and happy memories.  Nurture one another and feed your marriage by focusing only on good things for a little while.

UNPLUG AND CONNECT

Meaningful face-to-face connection is valuable and hard to come by these days. We’re so busy and inundated with technology that it’s easy to get distracted by devices and notifications. Do your best to unplug when you’ve got some intentional one-on-one time together, and concentrate on one another.

Have a good conversation, hold hands, go dancing, play a game–if even just for a little while. Have fun doing things you can’t do with a phone in your hand! Resist the urge to check your email, text messages, or social media, and just be in the moment with your spouse. You can watch those funny cat videos at home later.

REVISIT OLD HAUNTS

There’s no way to tap into that amazing romantic nostalgia quite like revisiting places you used to go–back when you were falling in love, or even when you were newlyweds. If you still live in the same place, you’ll have easy access to those old haunts. And if you’ve moved away, you could plan a weekend getaway to your old stomping grounds.

Reliving happy memories together will inspire and invigorate you. If you’ve been going through a difficult time in your marriage (or just in life), it will help you get back in touch with those feelings you may have been missing due to stress or other factors. Travel back in time together to recapture that spark!

GET CREATIVE

Put your heads together and come up with some unique and adventurous ideas for your date nights. Make a list of experiences you’d love to have together, then share your lists with each other. Decide which ideas you’d like to act on first, and have fun! Creating new experiences and memories will help to increase the intimacy in your marriage.

Funday Friday: Becoming a Pun Master

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Here is a little punny humor for your Funday Friday pleasure:

pun master

Complaining is Terrible for You

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Complaining Is Terrible for You, According to Science

Steeping yourself in negativity has seriously terrible consequences for your mental and physical health.

By Jessica Stillman

complainWhy do people complain? Not to torture others with their negativity, surely. When most of us indulge in a bit of a moan, the idea is to “vent.” By getting our emotions out, we reason, we’ll feel better.

But science suggests there are a few serious flaws in that reasoning. One, not only does expressing negativity tend not to make us feel better, it’s also catching, making listeners feel worse. “People don’t break wind in elevators more than they have to. Venting anger is…similar to emotional farting in a closed area. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s dead wrong,” psychologist Jeffrey Lohr, who has studied venting, memorably explained.

OK, so complaining is bad for your mood and the mood of your friends and colleagues, but that’s not all that’s wrong with frequent negativity. Apparently, it’s also bad for your brain and your health. Yes, really.

On Psych Pedia, Steven Parton, an author and student of human nature, explains how complaining not only alters your brain for the worse but also has serious negative repercussions for your mental health. In fact, he goes so far as to say complaining can literally kill you. Here are three of the ways he claims that complaining harms your health:

1. “Synapses that fire together wire together.”

This is one of the first lessons neuroscience students learn, according to Parton. “Throughout your brain there is a collection of synapses separated by empty space called the synaptic cleft. Whenever you have a thought, one synapse shoots a chemical across the cleft to another synapse, thus building a bridge over which an electric signal can cross, carrying along its charge the relevant information you’re thinking about,” Parton explains.

“Here’s the kicker,” he continues. “Every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together in order to decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross…. The brain is rewiring its own circuitry, physically changing itself, to make it easier and more likely that the proper synapses will share the chemical link and thus spark together–in essence, making it easier for the thought to trigger.”

So let’s boil that down–having a thought makes it easier for you to have that thought again. That’s not good news for the perpetually gloomy (though happily, it seems gratitude, can work the opposite way, building up your positivity muscles). It gets worse, too. Not only do repeated negative thoughts make it easier to think yet more negative thoughts, they also make it more likely that negative thoughts will occur to you just randomly walking down the street. (Another way to put this is that being consistently negative starts to push your personality towards the negative).

Parton explains how these closer synapses result in a generally more pessimistic outlook: “Through repetition of thought, you’ve brought the pair of synapses that represent your [negative] proclivities closer and closer together, and when the moment arises for you to form a thought…the thought that wins is the one that has less distance to travel, the one that will create a bridge between synapses fastest.” Gloom soon outraces positivity.

2. You are whom you hang out with.

Not only does hanging out with your own negative thoughts rewire your brain for negativity, hanging out with negative people does much the same. Why?

“When we see someone experiencing an emotion (be it anger, sadness, happiness, etc), our brain ‘tries out’ that same emotion to imagine what the other person is going through. And it does this by attempting to fire the same synapses in your own brain so that you can attempt to relate to the emotion you’re observing. This is basically empathy. It is how we get the mob mentality…. It is our shared bliss at music festivals,” Parton writes. “But it is also your night at the bar with your friends who love love love to constantly bitch.”

The takeaway lesson is, if you want to strengthen your capacity for positivity and weaken your reflex for gloom, “surround yourself with happy people who rewire your brain towards love.” If you’re looking to deflect others’ negativity, here are a few tips.

3. Stress is terrible for your body, too.

All of which sounds like a good argument for staying away from negativity to protect your mental health, but Parton insists that quitting the complaining habit is essential for your physical health, too. “When your brain is firing off these synapses of anger, you’re weakening your immune system; you’re raising your blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes, and a plethora of other negative ailments,” he says.

The culprit is the stress hormone cortisol. When you’re negative, you release it, and elevated levels of the stuff, “interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease…. The list goes on and on,” says Parton.

How to Forgive When It’s Hard to Forget

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How to Forgive When It’s Hard to Forget

By Dr. Henry Cloud

Help Button“I know I’m supposed to forgive,” a woman said to me (Dr. Cloud) at a recent seminar. “But, I just can’t open myself up to that kind of hurt anymore. I know I should forgive him and trust him, but if I let him back in, the same thing will happen, and I can’t go through that again.”

“Who said anything about ‘trusting’ him?” I asked. “I don’t think you should trust him either.”

“But you said I was supposed to forgive him, and if I do that, doesn’t that mean giving him another chance? Don’t I have to open up to him again?”

“No, you don’t,” I replied. “Forgiveness and trust are two totally different things. In fact, that’s part of your problem. Every time he’s done this, he’s come back and apologized, and you have just accepted him right back into your life, and nothing has changed. You trusted him, nothing was different, and he did it again. I don’t think that’s wise.”

“Well,” she asked, “How can I forgive him without opening myself up to being hurt again?”

Good question. We hear this problem over and over again. People have been hurt, and they do one of two things. Either they confront the other person about something that has happened, the other person says he’s sorry, and they forgive, open themselves up again, and blindly trust. Or, in fear of opening themselves up again, they avoid the conversation altogether and hold onto the hurt, fearing that forgiveness will make them vulnerable once again.

How do you resolve this dilemma?

The simplest way to help you to organize your thoughts as you confront this problem is to remember three points:

1. Forgiveness has to do with the past. Forgiveness is not holding something someone has done against her. It is letting it go. It only takes one to offer forgiveness. And just as God has offered forgiveness to everyone, we are expected to do the same (see Matthew 6:12 and 18:35).

2. Reconciliation has to do with the present. It occurs when the other person apologizes and accepts forgiveness. It takes two to reconcile.

3. Trust has to do with the future. It deals with both what you will risk happening again and what you will open yourself up to. A person must show through his actions that he is trustworthy before you trust him again (see Matthew 3:8; Proverbs 4:23).

You could have a conversation that deals with two of these issues, or all three. In some good boundary conversations, you forgive the other person for the past, reconcile in the present, and then discuss what the limits of trust will be in the future. The main point is this: Keep the future clearly differentiated from the past.

As you discuss the future, you clearly delineate what your expectations are, what limits you will set, what the conditions will be, or what the consequences (good or bad) of various actions will be. As the proverb says, “A righteous man is cautious in friendship” (see Proverbs 12:26). Differentiating between forgiveness and trust does a number of things:

First, you prevent the other person from being able to say that not opening up again means you are “holding it against me.”

Second, you draw a clear line from the past to the possibility of a good future with a new beginning point of today, with a new plan and new expectations. If you have had flimsy boundaries in the past, you are sending a clear message that you are going to do things differently in the future.

Third, you give the relationship a new opportunity to go forward. You can make a new plan, with the other person potentially feeling cleansed and feeling as though the past will not be used to shame or hurt him. As a forgiven person, he can become an enthusiastic partner in the future of the relationship instead of a guilty convict trying to work his way out of relational purgatory. And you can feel free, not burdened by bitterness and punitive feelings, while at the same time being wise about the future.

 

Funday Friday: German Humor

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Here is some German humor for your Funday Friday:

German Children

A Suicide Prevention App

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This New App Is Unlike ANYTHING Else on Your iPhone

It’s literally designed to save lives.

By Brittney McNamara

Sad girlAsking for help is hard. But creators of a new app, Mind Me, are hoping to make it a little easier for people considering suicide. According to the World Health Organization, more than 800,000 people across the globe commit suicide each year, and many more attempt it. While suicide is often preventable through treatment, care, and awareness, people considering suicide don’t always have access to the help they need.

MindMe wants to change that, by putting those resources right on your phone. Because people can’t always get necessary care at the exact moments they need it, MindMe will aggregate coping strategies and recommendations from a person’s therapist in the app so the user can access them at any time. In its beta stages, the app is not meant to replace a therapist, but to be used alongside one to fill the gaps.

App researcher David Putrino, Ph.D, director of telemedicine and virtual rehabilitation at Burke Medical Research Institute, told BuzzFeed Health the in-person professionals will develop specific strategies for someone at-risk of attempting suicide. When feelings of suicide pop up, the person can look back at the strategies on their phone for an in-the-moment reminder of how to suppress them.

“We hear from therapists that no matter how carefully they explained strategies to their clients, if someone is inconsolably upset because a trigger occurs, they’re not going to remember what they’ve learned in therapy,” Putrino said.

When the trigger occurs, MindMe might show the user a video message from their therapist, give them emergency contact numbers, or suggest playing a phone game. Basically, the app might suggest anything that has been helpful to that specific person in the past. It also lets users log triggers and emotions to help their therapist track their progress.

Some similar apps exist, but MindMe researchers say they mostly provide generic tips, not ones tailored for the user. By using the app in tandem with a therapist and logging daily feelings, the researchers behind the app hope it will lead to fewer suicides and better mental health care. To get there, though, they need some money. MindMe has a crowd funding page hoping to raise $100,000 to take the app to a larger stage of clinical trials.

“We really can’t stress enough how rapidly we need to roll out this solution so it can start helping people immediately,” Putrino told BuzzFeed.

On Wednesday morning, the app had raised $16,785. For Anna Smeragliuolo, one of the minds behind the app, this isn’t about business, it’s personal.

“I want people to know [suicide] is not a problem you can foresee with any one particular type of behavior or personality. Mostly, I want people to know it’s real,” she told BuzzFeed. She recently lost her father to suicide.

“My father worked in mental health and behavioral services,” she says. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do or how happy you appear — no one person is immune to this kind of disease.”

If you or someone you know is in danger of harming themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1 (800) 273-8255.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our counselors. If the thoughts of suicide are current, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline or call 911 right away.