How to Have a Safe Difficult Conversation

Uncategorized Jun 08, 2019

Any good confrontation takes into account that two people are involved. This sounds obvious, but it really isn’t, and it is an essential part of an effective boundary conversation.

One reason you have a problem in the first place is that you and the person you want to confront are not of one mind; you aren’t the same person. You don’t see things the same way nor feel the same way, and you have different ideas on what to do about it. This is not a bad thing, in and of itself.

The differences between you can help both of you grow and enjoy life.
The problem arises when you don’t clearly distinguish your feelings and opinions from the other person’s, especially when having the talk. The process of problem solving and reconciliation can quickly get bogged down. You see this when people say things like “You need to change this” rather than “I need for you to change this.” There is an “I” who has a desire and a request, and...

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Unsafe People Will Apologize Without Changing Their Behavior

Uncategorized Jun 07, 2019

"But he's really sorry this time," she said. "When I confronted him with what I knew, he cried and said he was so heartbroken about what he had done. I could tell he was really torn up about it."

My counselee was referring to her husband, whom she had discovered had been seeing another woman. She was being taken in by his "true pain" over what he had done and his promise never to do it again. However, he had made similar "confessions" countless times before. Each time, he was "so sorry." He cried and made very short-lived 180-degree turnarounds. This was the fourth time that he had been involved with another woman. And each previous time, he had been "sorry."

The truth is, however, that sorry is as sorry does. A synonym to sorry is repentance, and it means a true turnaround. But unlike the "spins" that this man had made, a true turnaround is one that lasts. That does not mean that there is perfect behavior after that point, but that the change is real and that is bears fruit over...

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Destructive vs. Growth Suffering

Uncategorized Jun 03, 2019

Suffering can be good. It can take us to places where one more season of “comfort” cannot. But suffering can also be terrible.

Destructive suffering inflicts evil on a person’s heart and soul and is totally outside God’s desire. Although God can bring good out of the experience, the experience itself is no good at all. But there is also therapeutic suffering or “growth suffering.”

So the first thing to do is to distinguish between the destructive and the “growth” sufferings.

Good Pain

Some suffering does have value and produces growth. I call this good pain. We all have coping mechanisms that cover up pain, help us deal with fear, cope with relational inabilities and help us hold it all together. Trials and suffering push those mechanisms past the breaking point so we find out where we need to grow. Then true spiritual growth begins at deeper levels and we are healed. Righteousness and character take the place of coping.

This kind of...

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Identifying the Source of Our Pain

Uncategorized May 31, 2019

After more than 20 years in the profession of helping people, I have come to understand something: we cause much of our pain by the people we choose. In every kind of clinical issue that psychologists deal with, relationships are a big part of the picture in some way. Consider these questions:

  • Are you experiencing the same problems or feelings that you’ve experienced in previous relationships?
  • Do you find that you continually pick people to fall in love with or become close friends with who hurt you in some way?
  • Do you find yourself wondering if there are any “good ones” out there?
  • Do you often go through periods of emotional turmoil as a result of choosing someone who wasn’t good for you?

Is “How did I get myself into this?” a frequent question you ask yourself?

A lot of people can relate to these feelings. Their relationships leave them lacking in some way, leaving them to wonder why they end up in the situations they do. They wonder...

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He Heals Our Hidden Wounds

Uncategorized May 29, 2019

Written by: Christine Caine

 Almost 25 years ago, I opened my front door to find my husband Nick standing there with the most beautiful roses—the perfect prelude to a date. We weren’t yet married and had just begun talking more about the future. As we took off and headed out to our favorite restaurant, I soon realized that we were driving in the wrong direction.


“Nick? Are we lost?”


“Relax,” he said. “I’ve got a surprise.”


Immediately I was overcome with anxiety. Mentally, I understood that Nick wanted to do something special. But emotionally, I couldn’t shake the familiar dread and suffocating fear that surprises always triggered. Nick grew frustrated by my demeanor, but I felt helpless to control it.
After a few minutes of tense silence, Nick slowed the car and turned to face me.

“Christine, anytime I try to do something spontaneous, or anytime it seems as if things are slipping out of your direct control, you...

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Addressing Mental Health Goes Beyond Prayer

Uncategorized May 27, 2019

 God is a person who does certain things that produce life, over and over again. And, he has created us in his image, able to do those same things. We are to be “like him,” living healthy lives. So, as we grow in his image, doing what he does, healing occurs as a result. I began to understand that salvation equals healing, just as the Greek word implies. Said another way: The more that God helps us to become like him, bearing his image, we get well. So what does that look like?

As I wrote in my book “Changes That Heal,” I think this happens in four basic areas:

First, God is able to form emotional connections. He bonds with the other members of the Trinity, and then with us. He has ongoing, unbroken relationships, and created us to be able to do the same. What we know from science and experience is that disconnection, or emotional isolation and detachment lead to all sorts of emotional and relational problems. From depression, to anxiety, to breakdowns...

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7 Steps to Help Someone Have More Awareness

Uncategorized May 27, 2019

If someone in your life behaves in a way that causes problems but he doesn’t know his behavior is a problem, you are dealing with unawareness. It can be something bothersome but not dangerous. Or it can be something life threatening, as with an alcohol, drug, or prescription pill addiction.

You may be acutely aware of the issue yourself, much more so than the person with the problem. You may want to address it with the person for his sake and yours. At the same time, you may be at a loss on how helpfully to approach him. Use the following seven steps to help that person come to awareness and find a solution to the problem:

1. Take a “Presumed Innocent” Approach
Until you know better, assume a person is innocent of bad motives or intents, and approach him accordingly. If the person truly does not know what he is doing, he needs compassion and gentleness from you. Being innocently unaware is a far cry from being resistant, defensive, or blaming. The other person may...

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Supporting Our Troops After War

Uncategorized May 24, 2019

I will never forget the day that I was almost taken out by a U.S. Marine. I was a little kid working in a boat dealership when I walked into the shop one day and said, “Hey Tommy, have you seen that spare tire for the trailer?” When I did, I startled Tommy, a Viet Nam vet, and he immediately grabbed a shovel, spun around and started swinging at everything in sight, including me. I dived for cover and was hiding behind a fishing boat when he just “snapped out of it,” and was suddenly himself again. I had no clue what had just happened, but it was terrifying. Tommy told me later that he had the “jitters,” as he put it, since he had returned home from the war. 

Now, as a psychologist, I understand more. PTSD and other scars of war are real, and life-altering. What Tommy was experiencing then we have much more knowledge of now. We know what causes it and we know how to treat it. But there are...

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Having Healthy Boundaries Means You Don't Think About Revenge

Uncategorized May 24, 2019

Those who have good boundaries have transcended the need for revenge. Their first goal is to make things better for the other person or group. The other’s benefit is their utmost concern. That does not mean they have no interest at all in their own benefit. It simply means that in their treatment of others, their goal is to do well by them regardless of how they are treated.

They are not interested in settling the score or getting even. Revenge is for immature people, and they know that ultimately the offending person is going to get what he deserves without his needing to bring it about. Life has a way of making that happen, as does also the natural law of sowing and reaping. But even this ultimate payback is not something that those with healthy boundaries wish on another person, and that is the true hallmark of their character. They truly want the best for others, even those who do not do well by them.

That is why people who have healthy boundaries are not full of...

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Revenge is the Worst Response to Pain

Uncategorized May 22, 2019

No one wants to suffer, and it’s natural to want to avoid pain and discomfort. Yet, if you’re seeking to grow, normalizing suffering will facilitate the growth process in your personal development.

Let’s start by understanding how suffering actually helps with growth. Although it presents a negative experience, we recognize that it’s part of life – especially the growth part of life. No one grows to maturity who doesn’t understand what it means to endure pain.

So, when we think about pain, what is one of the worst types that comes to mind? In many cases, it includes a painful experience that is inflicted upon us by someone else. We already bring a great deal of pain to our lives by our own transgressions, and at the same time, others can inflict just as much injury on us. It adds salt to our wounds.

We have natural responses to being hurt that are part of our imperfections. We do not always respond well to stresses in our lives. These responses...

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