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Intellect, athleticism, good-looks, and even “grit” are all qualities that find value in our society. Some more important than others.

A trait that does not feature as much when describing a person is emotional intelligence. This quality may be one that is harder to recognize than other ways to define a person but can be just as important. The good news is that unlike some other traits this can be positively developed.

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So what is emotional intelligence?

Simply put it is the capacity one has to be aware of, control, and express emotions. This skill creates a higher chance of success in interpersonal relationships.

Growing in emotional intelligence can be done with intentional work. One proactive option is to practice self-exploration when feelings arise. Try to specifically identify what feelings you are experiencing. Hurt, anger, and sadness are surface emotions. Being able to recognize a feeling such as rejection, disrespect, or a sense of loss helps solutions to be possible. By recognizing specifically what the emotion is occurring a more specific solution can be planned. Additionally, determining whether that feeling comes from a rational or irrational place is possible. It also helps discuss these feelings with other people.

Ways to practice:

Write down specifically what you are feeling–there may be more than one emotion.

Say out loud what you feel to judge how rational the feelings are.

Focus on remaining calm in highly emotional situations. Mentally prepare yourself to respond a certain way. Pause before reacting.

Although cliche, there is a reason “how does that make you feel?” is asked in counseling sessions. Work on improving emotional intelligence and you may be surprised at how much your interpersonal relationships will improve.

Therapy is a good place to develop emotional intellect. We at Christian Counseling Center are trained and have experience walking with people as they grow this trait. Give us a call at 270.442.5738 for more information or to set up an appointment.

 

Justin P. Lewis, MA, LMFT

Somewhere I once heard the quote:

“Be Yourself. If you won’t who else will be?”

I would like to take credit for this tidbit of wisdom, but alas, it just wouldn’t be right. These two short sentences to form a challenge of introspection can be quite meaningful. Trying to be different in ways that we think are necessary are just exhausting and we end up not really being anyone at all.

Each of us has value and can add through whatever skills and talents we may possess. This does not mean certain times don’t call for different behavior or that we can improve on skills. But, not embracing who we are as a person is highly unfortunate.

 

Justin P. Lewis, MA, LMFT

I have found it to be true that when we are working on improving ourselves from time to time it is difficult to continue without major progress. A passage from a meaningful book “The Prophet” by Kahil Gibran may be helpful with this.

You are good when you walk to your goal with bold steps. Yet you are not evil when you go thither limping. Even those who limp go not backward.

The point of this quote is that from time to time we will be moving slowly. Struggling through conflict and difficult circumstances. We can be hopeful as long as we keep moving, it may be a limp, but it isn’t regression.

During those times of “limping” we are available to walk along side for support and guidance. Feel free to contact us at 270-442-5738.

 

Justin P. Lewis, MA, LMFT

 

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There are a number of aspects to a healthy marriage. For this post, I am going to just focus on one of them. It could be argued that this is the most important.

  1. Focus on yourself.

A first glance this may seem selfish. It could come across as self-serving or being concerned only with ones own feelings. That is not the angle I am navigating. When we focus on ourselves in an appropriate way, we notice our own behavior rather than point at the behavior of our spouse we avoid unnecessary conflict. A primary way that resentment builds in a marriage is for one spouse to feel responsible for the other. This could be in tangible ways or emotionally. If one person in the relationship feels the need to make sure the other is feeling a certain way, it hinders growth.

Be responsible for yourself while maintaining responsibilities to your spouse. Treat them appropriately, focusing your energy on how you act rather than trying to control how they act. It seems, when we do this, our positive behavior influences the other and it creates a context of growth rather than resentment and stagnation or deterioration. Of course, it should be noted, if one person in the relationship puts the other in physical danger there are appropriate boundaries that must be drawn.

So, focus on your own behavior. Instead of blaming, do your part.

Justin P. Lewis, MA, LMFT

One thing that we can all count on in our life are stressful situations. These moments–long or short–will happen in many different areas. There are strategies to be incorporated in our daily life that will offset, or prevent stress. The following are four common ways to handle stress:

Handling-Stress

Exercise. An active lifestyle is helpful in distracting the mind in addition to the physical benefits. The human brain actually operates in a way that physical activity creates a happier existence.

Prayer or meditation. Taking our stress to God removes the pressure of carrying it all on our shoulders and provides the comfort of knowing we are not alone. Additionally, when prayer or meditation is taking place intentional solitude has been created. This personal time can provide a sense of peace.

Journal. Writing down feelings is a way of letting things out. It is one way to unbottle the feelings and relieves some pressure. Also, writing down all the good things is helpful in remembering the positives in life.

Talk to a counselor. Verbalizing the stressful situations can provide a sense of peace. A counselor can help change thinking process and give suggestions that are specific to the particular situation.

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At the Christian Counseling Center we have training and experience helping those struggling with feelings of stress.

A friend of mine once told me a story of a Valentine’s Day date with her spouse. She and her husband decided to meet for a meal on this day for sweethearts. At this time, mobile devices were not part of the fabric of society creating a little more of a problem when they both waited…and waited for the other to arrive. By the time she had treated herself to a fair portion of chips and salsa my friend realized, it’s past time for him to arrive. Meanwhile, her man was across town waiting for her to arrive. Eventually they were able to contact one another and get together to enjoy a Valentine’s Day meal but that lack of communication…missing the mark connecting with one another caused a blip in the plans.

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Staying connected to one’s spouse includes clearly communicating meeting points. But there are also things involved in maintaining that important part of relationship building. Here are four ways to keep a bond with that special someone:

  • Find ways to surprise your spouse. The surprises can vary in size, from time to time spending money for a surprise can be appropriate. However, often times small surprises can be even more meaningful. Notes, social media mentions, and providing treats are ways this can be accomplished.
  • Always be in pursuit. Having been together for years gives the false idea that the pursuit of one’s spouse has been completed. Making that special someone feel loved and appreciated by the way they are treated them keeps the excitement of the relationship alive.
  • Take interests in each other’s hobbies. One may even become interested in something new due to broadening of a  horizon. At the very least it is one more way to keep growth of the relationship active. No healthy hobby or interest is more important than another–taking this attitude goes a long way in building comfort with one’s spouse.
  • Set aside time for each other. Just being alone together is not a date. In busy life styles waiting for alone time is an exercise in futility. People make appointments for important parts of their life. What is more important than building relationship with a loved one?

At the very least…clarify that Valentine’s Day date location!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Christian Counseling Center!

Justin P. Lewis, LMFT

This year the folk musician Bob Dylan won a Nobel Peace Prize for his lyrical work. His musical career which started in the 1960s has continued into present day and the songs he wrote back then have had the staying power to be favorites in all generations of music fans.

One of the songs Dylan wrote was directed to his son. The title of the song is “Forever Young.” In this song he gives encouragement to his son on a life worth living, developing character, and being a good person. The first verse includes the line:

“may you always do for others, and let others do for you.”

Many times, in my opinion, a great deal of focus is given on always doing for others. Sometimes to the point of totally sacrificing the needs of self. I want to be clear here, doing for others is important, as Dylan notes in his song. Just as important, I think, is allowing others to help you.

We were not created to be alone in this life. The bible tells us that God created two people because just one was not good in His eyes. Throughout the word of God community is developed in the family, His holy nation of Israel in the old covenant, and finally the church. Within these institutions all people have a role in service towards each other and also to allow another to serve him.

Of course, there is the teaching of Jesus in which he instructs us to:

“do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

This assumes that at times people will be serving us as well as us being served.

As we keep in mind our relationships with other people may we indeed, “do for others, but also let them do for us.”

 

–Justin P. Lewis, MA

practiceIt seems to me that often times we limit ourselves by saying something to the effect of, “I am just not good at that.” This probably starts early in life to protect us from the vulnerability of failing. It, however, also blocks us from success. Natural talent is not the only way to achieve greatness or success.

The late Steve Jobs–a highly regarded innovator and founder of Apple Computers–was also nearly as famous for his ability to present and market. His keynote speeches for Apple became famous and often imitated. But, his public speaking skills were not always superb. A video of an interview he gave early in his career was uncovered decades later. He is visibly nervous and even verbalizes his fear of becoming sick. This is not the same Steve Jobs who entertained while unveiling his most recent product. So what gives?

Jobs put in hours and hours of practice. He honed and developed his presentation skills spending hundreds of hours on one presentation.

Dr. K. Anders Ericsonn published a research study that looked into this idea of hard work and practice. He said excellence depends on more than mere practice but deliberative practice. His definition of this is, “improving the skills you have and extending the reach and range of those skills.” So Dr. Ericsonn takes into account natural talent but suggests excellence does not rest there.

So, when we consider our personal well being are we focusing daily on improving our  skills and extending them? In marriage, hone the abilities and strengths so that they cover a number of aspects in relationships. Parent in a way that sees possibility to attain skills rather than give up on that possibility.

The takeaway is this: because you view yourself as, “just not good” at something now, does not mean you can’t be proficient in that area. If you have skills in an area, they can always be improved.

 

Justin P. Lewis, MA, LMFT

 

images.jpg‘Tis the season for making positive changes. A new year is here and it is as good a time as any to be better people. Even though it’s a little late; (never too late for a resolution, right?) here are some helpful tips on making a solid resolution.

To have the best chance at success it is wise to set resolutions as a goals. This will lead to many changed behaviors in order to attain the goal. Hopefully, all positive ones.

An acronym that may help you setting goals is SMART.

“S” stands for specific. If you want to be able to judge whether or not you have been successful there is wisdom in making the goal something tangible. An example could be, “I want to bike a century ride this year.” This will give you something specific to measure rather than, “I want to ride my bike more.”

“M” stands for measurable. If you are going to make a change or accomplish something you have to be able to answer the question of why it is important to you. Our resolutions have to be something we want to do.

“A” stands for action oriented. What steps are you willing to take to achieve this goal. What things in your life have to be eliminated? What things must you incorporate? For example, if you want to learn a new sport such as tennis you need to have a plan in place such as tennis lessons and when you would play.

“R” stands for realistic. Although we don’t want to limit ourselves we also do not want to set ourselves up for failure. Is there some evidence this is attainable?

“T” stands for time. When we have a time we want to accomplish something by it gives us more motivation.

One additional helpful tip is to find someone you can be accountable with on how you are doing. Whether it is giving something up or adding value to your life, find a person who is willing to join you on that journey. This may be in having the same goal or just doing things to keep you on track.

I believe when we incorporate these principles into our goal then our possibility of success increases.

Good luck and have fun with your resolutions!

 

The holiday season is in full swing. We have already experienced Thanksgiving with Christmas (and Festivus for you Seinfeld fans) already upon us.

Just a few things to remember that may not be obvious in making the holiday season an enjoyable time.

1. Take time alone to reflect. Things can get so busy and rushed that we don’t have time to reflect on things that are truly important to us. Stopping to consider our blessings is always a good idea. Especially during the holidays. For people that gain energy by recharging, this is particularly important as to not burn out on parties.

2. Don’t be afraid to grieve. For some people this is the first time a family member will not be at Christmas or it is a yearly reminder of the fact they are not with the family anymore. It is okay to be sad about this. Even if you become tearful, it is normal. It may be helpful to talk about some of the memories you cherish about this person in your discussions.

3. Have manageable expectations. Most of us are familiar with Clark Griswald’s desire for a “fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.” He spends so much time with the high expectations of everything being perfect that he misses out on the joy that he could be experiencing. Don’t let this happen to you. Wasting mental energy with “if only” and “I wish” cause you to miss out the times you can be enjoying!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Christian Counseling Center!

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  • Learning how not to do for others what they can learn to do for themselves is one of the golden rules of adult maturity. 2 years ago
  • In an effort to avoid the feeling of failing people often don't put forth effort.By doing this they will not experience their full potential 3 years ago
  • The ability to successfully handle conflict is more important than the amount of conflict in a marriage. 3 years ago
  • Weekend challenge: Tell your spouse something you love about them and expect nothing in return. 3 years ago
  • Word Wed:Don't be anxious about anything,but in every situation,by prayer and petition,with thanksgiving,present your requests to God.Phil4 3 years ago

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