Emotions Are Only Alarms…Not Good or Bad

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Emotions are often categorized as good or bad, but they are neither. Sad, angry, and the like, are usually considered bad, while happy is considered good. Humans are wired to experience each and every emotion. When we don’t, we build walls, become callous, unforgiving, and even bitter. Each emotion, including depression, is just an experience; treat it as such.

Picture this: if we vacation, we take in all of the experience, enjoy it, and progress forward, sharing with friends, family, and social media followers. If we’re depressed, however, we often skip that feeling, sometimes becoming suicidal, and sharing with no one. However, depression is also an experience that doesn’t define us or provide an end point. Like a vacation, it’s an experience, and neither determines our value. Depression is a part of our story, one that strives for as much attention as the vacation. We should absorb the feeling, but not become the feeling.

Witness it. Allow it. Release it. Permit it to be a part of our story and allow it to help someone else. But first, we must accept it, to gain the confidence to share it.

Here’s a tip to help view emotions in a more neutral and beneficial way. Recognize they are neither good nor bad, but helpful alarms that provide insight into our true feelings. Viewing emotions as an alarm is helpful in determining the work needed to become a mentally and emotionally healthier individual. Not taking emotions personally, but using the information they provide, could make the difference between being healthy and unhealthy. We cannot become our true selves without the correct perspective. The things we cannot change require us to change our perspectives.

I challenge you to change the way you view emotions and feelings to help you become the best version of you.

Brandie Jones, MMFT

Brandie Jones is a Marriage & Family Therapist at Lantern Lane Farm Counseling Center.

Summer & Mental Health: Structure vs Freedom

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As the school year winds down there can be a bump in anxiety levels.  Although we all look forward to sunny days—anxiety and other mental health issues can creep in. 

The “Dog Days of Summer” quickly envelop us and my mind wanders to the … KIDS! Though my own are now adults, I remember how, after initial excitement, the summer can begin to drag. And with it, a whole host of issues: from boredom on one end of the spectrum to activity overload on the other.

Many imagine idyllic, do-nothing days of relaxing and recharging. However, sometimes the lack of structure can bring uncertainty and discomfort. Let’s see…thunderstorms, swimming lessons, deep end of the pool; camp, ticks and Lyme disease, sunburns, fireworks and let’s not forget the undertow.

Here’s a tip for handling these challenges without increasing the worry.  Teach problem solving and preparation as an alternative to the danger discussion.  Encourage your children (and the adults around you) to be proactive. Focus on teaching problem solving skills in anticipation of times of trouble. And remember to always reach out for help, if it’s needed.

Tammie Elkins, M.M.F.T.

Tammie is a Marriage and Family Therapist at Lantern Lane Farm - Counseling Center.

The Language of Play

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Play is a child’s first language. They may not be able to look at you and say “I had a really bad day at school, this is how I am feeling, and this is what I need right now.” Instead, they act out and behave in way that parents don’t understand and eventually makes them feel frustrated. When a child goes to play therapy, they have someone who is trained to understand their language. Rather than a child needing to explain why they are behaving the way that they are, or explain what happened that has put them in a rotten mood; they are able to simply play with a therapist and work through it.

You’re probably thinking,“well, can’t my child just play at home?” The answer is of course yes, but if a parent cannot understand the language of play the child can still struggle. A therapist can also help parents learn to play with their children while building a stronger attachment to each other. Play therapy is more than just child’s play. It is giving a child the voice to express themselves, and the empowerment that comes from being understood.

 - Tiffany Dillard, LPC-MHSP (temp), NCC 

Tiffany is working through the certification process to become a Registered Play Therapist. 

 For more information on Play Therapy visit: http://www.a4pt.org

Triggers and Trauma

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Triggers and Trauma

Trauma and its aftereffects can resonate through a person’s life.  Something that happened to you years or decades ago can rear its ugly head and shake you up like the intervening years had never occurred. I recently went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. From the second I walked in, the sounds and smells and feelings— the sound of scraping, the smell of disinfectant, the anticipation of pain— all sent me reeling. The dental hygienist was as lovely as she was kind, but her kindness did not stop my white-knuckled grip on the armrests. By the time she finished, my heart was racing, my hands were numb from clenching too tightly, and I needed a minute before I could stand. 

Even though I knew for a fact that bleeding gums were the worst I could expect from this visit, my brain refused to believe it. I was sent all the way back to my childhood, where I suffered under the hands of a not so gentle dentist who was not concerned with the comfort of a child. I was experiencing the aftereffects of trauma. 

The nature of trauma is a state of helplessness. Trauma is an overwhelming emotion to a threat or harm, the longer and more impactful that threat, the more disruption to our ability to think, plan or even speak.  That's why offering the language of kindness is so important for someone experiencing or re-living a traumatic event.  What's important is to find a safe place and person who can help you engage your trauma. Your trauma does not look like my trauma. Each of us has a unique story with a unique set of circumstances we have encountered.

Your trauma doesn’t need to be “big” or “devastating” for it to be valid. Your trauma can be as simple as hating to go to the dentist. But you need to know this in the deepest part of your heart: big or small, trauma affects the body, and that makes it a legitimate source of pain that you are more than allowed to seek help for. 

Diane Mitchell, LCC

 

 

What You Can Learn From Your Favorite Shoes

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Think about your favorite pair of shoes. You know the ones, the ones that you’ve had for a while. Maybe you save them for a special occasion, because they make you feel invincible. Maybe it’s because they fit exactly how you want a shoe to fit, and it is impossible to find something that feels that good again. My favorite shoes in high school were a pair of yellow converse. Sure I have had other converse in my life, but something about these yellow ones made me feel like I could tackle anything that the high school drama might throw at me. Like most shoes you buy, they had that shoe store smell. The ends were white and the yellow was bright and sunny. This didn’t last long for my faithful yellow converse, and never lasts for other shoes either. The laces start to fray, the memory foam wears down, maybe eventually the sole starts to rip from the upper, but there is something about those shoes that you want to wear them regardless. You love the shoes, and no matter how dirty they get you are going to wear those shoes.

Now relate this to yourself. You at one time were new, shiny, and full of potential just like your favorite pair of shoes. As you get older and you start to go through messes, you may find yourself believing you are dirty. You may feel as if you are not worthy of being cared for because of the dirt that you have been treading through. You are sure that maybe you should just be thrown out, because after all, who wants a dirty human? The problem is that we often look down and see all our own dirt and forget that friends, family, and strangers are all walking through dirt too. We love them regardless, just like I loved my yellow converse. I wore them proudly with their frays, tears, and stains. I saw them all as something that told a story. Our dirt and our scars tell stories. We love our best friend’s scars, their dirt, their baggage. Why is it that we do not give ourselves that same treatment?

Today when you think of your dirt, treat yourself with self-compassion. Care for yourself regardless of the dirt, and realize that it just makes you part of a really big club, the human race. 

Love Letters for our Future

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February brings up thoughts of romance and love for our significant others. Every magazine you see in the super market check- out line reads in bold letters: how to spice things up in the bedroom, or how to plan a perfect romantic evening for your better half. But what about your kids? One of my favorite marriage authors likes to say that teaching your kids about good healthy relationships starts the minute they are born. The same is true of romance. How you treat your spouse teaches your kids how to treat their own spouses in the future. When you make your wife a priority ahead of your kids you are teaching your kids that not only do women matter, but that their mother matters and has great worth and value. When you make your husband a priority you are teaching your kids that their dad is worthy of respect and has great value as well. So, tell your kids 'no, because I have date with your dad'. Tell your kids, 'you'll have to wait until I'm not done kissing your mother.'


Let your kids learn what is normal physical touch. By holding hands and being close, you are modeling a healthy relationship. Let your life and your marriage be the love letter that inspires your kids to write their own love letters.  As your children grow and develop their own relationships, they will rely on what they know to be true about their own value and worth. Right now, they will think they have the grossest parents ever, but in the end their own marriages will thank you for it.

An Invitation

Dear Reader,

Perhaps you have come across this letter because you have been considering talking to a therapist. Maybe this is not the first time. Perhaps a concern or problem has come up recently, or maybe there’s an old problem that won’t go away. Maybe it’s been getting worse and worse lately, and you find yourself running out of ways to fight back. Or could it be that this problem has told you that it’s your only friend, promising to give you support and comfort while it actually works to rob you of your life?

I know from my meetings with other people struggling against difficulties in life, that sometimes they are not enthusiastic about seeing a therapist. I'm afraid to say that’s what I am, but I am also someone who is very interested in helping people reclaim their lives from the grip of their problems. I have no intention of scrutinizing you to find the ways you don’t measure up, nor of convincing you to go along with my own ideas or perspectives, nor of converting you into a lifelong patient. Effective therapy is about meeting your needs and attaining your goals, and therapists strive to serve their clients in all aspects of their work.

It can be very difficult to decide whether to reach out to a therapist. It may seem strange to share of yourself with someone you don’t know, who might share little about their story in return. Additionally, the time and expense of therapy can be significant, or they may even seem to be impossibly high costs. These are important considerations, and we at Lantern Lane Farm take them seriously. We aim to provide a welcoming space for our clients, and we work hard to make sure that as many people as possible are able to afford our services.

If you are trying to decide whether to make an appointment with a therapist, I think there might be other considerations worthy of your attention, the kind which can be easily overshadowed by concerns like unfamiliarity or finances. Perhaps it would be helpful to consider these questions:

• If you were to take the step to consult with a therapist, what would you be giving value to in your life? What would that step say about what is important to you?
• If the problem(s) in your life got to vote on whether to take that step, how would it/they vote?
• Sometimes it can be difficult to imagine how therapy may be of help to you. I’ll admit, I often have a tough time describing it in a general way, because the process of therapy holds so many possibilities that simple descriptions tend to be either too limited or too vague. Here’s a starting point though: How might life be different if you had more say in how things go, instead of the problem calling the shots?
• Here’s another question in a similar vein: If a therapist could meet you as a person, instead of as a patient to be cured or a problem to be solved, what would they get to know about you? If you were only a patient in their eyes, what would they miss out on?

If you are ready to meet face-to-face, we would love to hear from you. Any one of us on the team at Lantern Lane Farm would be happy to answer any questions you may have about walking together awhile on the journey.

Yours sincerely,
Aaron Karr, MMFT

www.LanternLaneFarm.org

info@lanternlanefarm.org

(615) 973-5454

#mentalhealth #therapy #counseling #lanternlanefarm #Tennessee #equinetherapy #help

 

 

Making Lasting Change

Making Lasting Changes

“New Year, New Me.”

We have all said it at one point or another, and when the clock strikes midnight we resolve to make lasting changes. Everything from eat healthier, to exercise more, to learning a new skill or language, resolutions tend to be quite broad and all encompassing. Whatever our resolutions are, they tend to revolve around the theme of “making healthy choices.” Which is fantastic! Yet, despite our best intentions on January 1st, July rolls around and we realize that we are nowhere near our goal. Maybe you’re even like me and cannot remember what your resolutions were way back then! Life happens, and we get busy, and as is often the case, we lose our momentum.

The most common resolution is to lose weight and it is that resolution I would like to help with. Now, what I’m going to say isn’t going to be anything magical, and it’s probably something you will not want to hear, but if you take it to heart, you will find that you are much more likely to accomplish the goal of losing weight and being healthier. Most of us tend to dive into the deep end of our resolutions, and if that includes weight loss we tend to do the following: sign up for a gym membership, go nearly every day, push really really hard, drastically change our diet overnight, and so on. All of those can lead to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle, but there is a problem.

Doing all those things, all at once, is biting off more than we can chew. We simply get overwhelmed and burnt out, which is why we tend to give up around Valentine’s day.

So how do we make those lasting changes without getting overwhelmed?

Make one small change at a time.

That’s it.

Make one small change at a time.

It isn’t popular and doesn’t sound all that exciting, but making one small change at a time builds momentum, and that moment will carry you through the entire year.

So it would look something like this.

Step 1: Identify how much weight you want to lose.

Step 2: Identify what “eating healthy” looks like for you (I follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of my meals are made at home and consist of whole foods, 20% of my food is whatever I choose.)

Step 3: Identify how often you will REALISTICALLY exercise in a given week.

Now, pick the most basic actions from steps 2 and 3.

That may look something like “this week I’ll drink 1 coke per day (instead of 2), and I will exercise for 30 minutes at the gym 2 days per week.”

Then, the next week you can do something like “Eat one less meal at a restaurant this week, and go walk in the park 1 day this week.”

And so it goes! Each week you make one small change, and those changes build on each other. After a few weeks you are exercising regularly, eating healthy, and will find yourself intentionally making healthier lifestyle choices. After a few months you will find that you have lost weight and feel like these new choices are just a part of your every day life. Then, by next January, you will have successfully met this year’s resolution.

Happy New Year everyone! If you need any further help, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Blessings!