It is often said that it is human to make errors but to forgive is divine.

But how do you forgive yourself, let alone forgive others?

Memories plague us with unfinished emotional business. Our emotions range from anger, guilt, and despair. We lose sleep. We self-medicate. We question the correctness of forgiveness. Resentment and self-absorption act like bullies to block this restoration process. We are closed off from others in ways we are not even aware as our self-delusion limits our personal growth and we get stuck.

The Loving Community Infoletter, Volume 1, Issue 11 is now available to help you, and those you meet, with these protracted issues. Let us make healthy communities in these troubling times. Add to Cart View Cart

Does crisis feel much like an “opportunity” to you?

Crisis just feels threatening. The Loving Community’s Growing Pains (Volume 1, Issue 5) walks you through its phases, touching varied issues of transformation, addiction, and a family scenario.

Issue 5 Growing Pains gives you straightforward thoughtful reflection suitable to read over your favorite beverage, and for talking points in conversation.

The Loving Community Information Newsletter Index

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Spring cleaning and I haven’t written much since my new computer got stuck in Canadian French keyboard…

Many years ago I wrote a retreat package that I did not get around to marketing–a typical flaw of writers. It was in the ancient times of no e-books. So, I shall get cracking and get those creative juices going again.

It was called Day by Day Patterns of Life: Tools to Break Negative Habits to Release You for Joy.

If you have experienced retreats that worked for you, let me know. Tell me what did not work for you.

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Guiding the Counselling Process: the ABCD Model

Pastoral care is traditionally a lay person receiving help from a trained pastoral care worker. There is a two-fold problem with this model.

Firstly, there aren’t enough people trained to counsel all the people in need. Secondly, we can learn skills from pastoral care training for self-reflection. The following uses language that sometimes addresses the therapist, and other times to the client. We have both the therapist and client within us as we learn to nurture ourselves.

The 1920s was the beginning of loss of theological perspective, the beginning of pastoral care using behavioral and social sciences, psychology, transactional analysis, Carl Rogers, and so on.  Priorities have been misplaced.

Role confusion ensued with too many roles for one clergy person to spiritually shepherd (be sheep dog for the shepherd) the followers of Jesus. Misplaced priorities where preaching, teaching, administration and so on take a back seat. Clergy/rabbis/gurus… (the sheep dogs of the sheep-people) should not be dragged into the long lengthy process of personality change in a counselling situation.

The number one role of clergy is to impart God’s message of love, facilitating confession, repentance of error, and the power from God to aid you to make revolutionary change within. We can give pastoral care to ourselves when there is no one to go to. Having recovered from crisis, we then can be better friends to others we meet.

It is not about analysing yourself. Don’t over-think your past. Rather, become aware of your weaknesses as well as strengths to continue to grow in love. As you stop to listen to your own heart, you will learn to listen to others better.

Spiritual councillors are useful for crisis; six week problem solving, six to eight weeks of marriage counselling, grief counselling, and individual, marriage, and family problems.

You are not alone, yet ultimately it is your experience.

Stresses are developmentally derive: anxiety over rule following; rituals; beliefs; values; situational issues, both normative and catastrophic.

Choices are yours. What are the factors affecting the ability to solve problems?

In crisis, the precipitating event usually has occurred within 10 to 14 days before the individual seeks help. Frequently it is something that happened the day before or the night before. It could almost be anything: threat of divorce, discovery of extramarital relations, finding out their son or daughter is on drugs, loss of boyfriend or girlfriend, loss of job or status, and unwanted pregnancy, and so forth.

The ABCD Traing Model

Follow this protocol for yourself and others:

A – Achieve an empathetic listening relationship. Ask about the crisis. Be willing to problem solve together. Affirm the person’s strength in asking for help and their ability to cope. If you have the crisis without anyone to listen to you, begin a journal and write the problem down. What does the crisis event that has happened mean to you? Is there someone you can trust? Do you have a support network? Is there a member of the family that can be trusted? The more people available to help at the start of the crisis, the better the outcome.

In the assessment phase it is imperative to ask: “Are you planning to kill yourself or someone else?” “How?” “When?” The therapist must find out and assess the seriousness of the threat: Is he merely thinking about it or does he have a method selected? Is it a lethal method – a loaded gun, a tall building or bridge picked out? Is a time to do it picked out? If so, it is time for a psychiatric evaluation.

B – Boil down the problem. Concentrate on the items that can be changed. Has anything like this ever happened before? How do you or your client abate the tension, anxiety or depression? Has the same method been tried this time? If not, why not? If it didn’t work, why didn’t it?

What would reduce the symptoms of stress? Exercise? Playing a musical instrument? Lessened stress makes it easier to think clearly.

C – Challenge the person to take constructive action, realistic small attainable goals, to foster hope. Make another appointment.

D – Develop an ongoing growth-action plan. Review progress. Develop more plans which gets easier as one builds on success. Build on a mutual support system. There is growth in constructive coping.

When helping other friends and yourself, establish verbatim reports with dialogue on the left half of the page and with the right side for comments:

1. Marital status
2. Education or Training
3. Medical History
4. Religious history
5. Major changes in life.
6. Impression of a person
7. Description of reaction/feeling
8. What you would like to do for this person
9. What would you like to accomplish
10. Goals and plans
11. Strengths and weaknesses

Peace of Mind is a Choice

Distractions seem to be the order of the day but it need not be distressing challenging any exercise to quite the mind. Utilize a few simple steps to avoid identifying yourself with erroneous thought and emotion patterns that distract you from a peaceful fulfilling life. Denial of distractions are as harmful as undue attention to them, ultimately fueling the distraction’s strength.

Prayer life to, or meditation before the Creator of all things good, is an important aspect to avoid an egocentricity that cuts us off from fundamental connections with one another and the rest of creation – a living death.

Refuse to identify yourself with distracting resentment, anger and the like. Everyone has interrupting thoughts when they engage in prayer; sometimes these distractions are barely present, when at other times there is a pitched thought-battle for your attention. Whether you use a specific prayer or meditation time, or use the maxim to pray without ceasing, these suggestions will aid in maximizing those moments to best advantage.

Briefly pray about a distraction and move on to what you had originally set to pray about. Even the act of trying not to think about an invading thought is a form of giving it undue negative attention which can only injure your peace of mind. Use tactics to keep yourself from ruffling your “spiritual feathers”:

a. Acknowledge the distraction as a part of life. Declare it does not belong in your space.
b. If you are recalling a person, convert the thought to prayer, for the person’s needs and spiritual welfare. Having brought the person to the throne of grace, you may then let the person go from the forethought of your mind.
c. Temporarily abort prayer to journal about the distraction writing it down, and out of mind.
d. Read uplifting scriptures and spiritual books such as the Psalms, New Testament, The Imitation of Christ until a passage grips your train of thought or until the meditation time is finished.
e. Be patient with yourself. Think of the thought or cascading thoughts like an awake dreaming, as inevitable as REM sleep to keep you healthy. They reveal aspects of yourself that you can nurture or change.

Prayer without ceasing is good and advised for a truly integrated life. It is fundamental. Yet, like multi-tasking, it has its limits. Give up a few minutes to half an hour per day at least five days a week to specific mental prayer or at least two hours per week to truly move toward peace of mind.

Before going to sleep, read whatever spiritual resource that you have, such as the gospels or other inspirational texts to prepare your mind in dream-sleep for your meditation in the morning before the work of the day. Your understanding of the text will be clearer after “sleeping on it.” Morning may not be possible so pick a time that works for you.

Peace be upon you.

The helping relationship is to enhance self exploration for better self-understanding leading to more appropriate action or direction. Understanding and empathetic depth are important.

EIS Framework

Evaluative – Determine appropriateness of client and what client might, or ought to, do.
Interpretive – Responses of counselor to teach, impart meaning or to explain why.
Supportive – Reassurance, decrease intensity of feeling.

PUA Framework

Probing – The counselor’s intent is to query for information, feelings, provoke discussion so that the client might develop a point further.
Understanding – Feedback so client knows if he/she understood in early rapport building. Self-disclosure, “I’ve been there too.” Genuine honesty, realness.
Advising – Concrete constructive suggestion. Phrase where you have the ability to be specific.

Confrontational needs

EIA “Confront” includes pointing out discrepancies in the person’s thinking and feeling. Do not confront another person if you do not intend to increase your involvement with client, acquaintence, friend. Confront with feelings of caring when basic trust has been established. Help the client become ready to use the information once it is offered.

Defensive clients discount the information given by the counsellor by rationalizing, justifying, leading away, consequenses involved in the situation missing the opportunity for growth, change and decision making. Make sure the defences are under control before offering suggestions or confronting. Defensiveness prevents an action plan for growth and the ultimate goal of acting in growth.

At the moment of confrontation “a person’s anxiety level is high or his motivation or ability to change is low, the confrontation will not be utilized as an invitation for self-examination, and, therefore, it should not take place” (Johnson, D. W. Reaching Out, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972, page unknown). As helper, it is also a rough road to hoe.

Trials deepen our humility. Rest in God. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Treasure life and do not presume on it. We cannot change the time we have so use it to best advantage. Show love to one another; an opportunity to reach into greater depths of love. Tactfully confirm information given you.

First Stage: Facilitation Phase of the Helping Relationship:

The helpee describes symptoms. Helper suspends acting on evaluations. Helper’s tenderness emphasized, earning the “right” to risk conditionally.

In-depth intense thinking is stimulated through communication responses. Listening in prayer aids in this process as well. Try these communication techniques with yourself and as you speak with others:

· Summarize: “I want to be certain I understand what you have told me….”
· Interchangeably respond: reflect feelings and beliefs, “I hear you saying that you are angry that your wife does not respect your privacy.”
· Clarification request: “Could you tell me more about these feelings of confusion when you get when you are alone?” “Could you give me another example of a time when you got so angry you wanted to hit the other person involved?”
· Probing questions to clarify feelings, beliefs, values and assumptions: “Is that something you are proud of?” “How might you express your commitment to that point of view?” “Let’s see if we can figure out the assumptions behind that point of view. Were you upset enough that you really wanted to disengage from the discussion?”
· “I messages”: “I am curious as to how you dealth with that difficult situation.” “ I am eager to know more about your thinking on this issue.” “I am wondering about how your parents reacted to this news.” “I am pleased th know that things worked out so well for you.” “I am disappointed that things did not work out for you as you had hoped.” “I am concerned about the fact that you are engaging in unprotected sexual activity.” “I am confused about what you are saying to me.” “Could you clarify what you are saying so that I can understand more fully?”
· Low level inferences: “I am sensing that you were really disappointed that your boyfriend did not call you.” “I have a hunch that it was very difficult for you to be assertive in this situation.”
· A combination of techniques: “I hear the anger you are feeling.” “I am sensing you were especially disappointed that your parents did not tell you sooner about their decision.” “I am wondering if you took their actions to mean they thought you weren’t mature enough to understand the problem.”

Second Stage: Transition

Helpee defines the problem and accepts responsibility for its change, gently pressing the helpee toward recognizing helpee’s role. Helper cautiously and tentatively becomes more evaluative.

Third Stage: Action

Helpee takes appropriate actions to solve problem. Helper may be conditional (judgmental). The helper’s self-confidence and knowledge is emphasized.

Questions, questions, and more questions; if you answer them honestly, you may save yourself from burnout and alienation from all that makes living worthwhile.

Do you lack a balance between your daily responsibilities, family and spiritual life?

Do you worry about the future?

Are you unwilling to reschedule your work hours to accommodate other potentially fulfilling endeavors?

Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop working and do something else?

Do you believe more money will solve the other problems in your life?

            As with all quizzes, we tend to resemble some of the remarks some of the time. That doesn’t necessarily make us “over the top”. The above reflections are just a few pointers to watch out for when guarding yourself from the slippery slope of workaholism.  Remember the words of Christ:

It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Matthew 4:4.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also….Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Matthew 6:19-21, 25.

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