"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 "...that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

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The Power of No-Christian Counseling, Individual Counseling, Confident Counseling Northborough MA 01532

The Power of No

The word “No” often comes with a negative stigma. it is often associated with rigidity, lack of cooperation, and selfishness. Is it possible that saying “no” may just be the most loving word you could say to someone? I believe so. I work with a lot of adults, primarily women, who tell me how they feel burnt out, have lost control of their schedules, or are feeling used by an unhealthy person in their lives. They struggle with saying no and setting limits in their lives. As a result, they build resentment and frustration, or they enable unhealthy people around them. Take for example a woman who is with an alcoholic. She struggles with saying no and pays for his substances. She allows him to live with her while he’s unemployed spending the day drinking for smoking pot. Her saying yes to him is preventing him from facing the consequences of his choices. In a way she is hindering his growth. Now there is no guarantee that her leaving or setting limits would get him to grow, but it won’t happen by her doing what she’s currently doing.

You see we must realize that sometimes tough love is necessary for the health of our relationships and the people around us. The same goes for not creating healthy boundaries at work or in every aspect of our lives. Of course, the next barrier I see is the guilt that shortly follows saying no. The best suggestion I tell clients is that you must remind yourself that tough love sometimes hurts in the short-term, but it doesn’t “harm” in the long-run. Giving yourself the time to feel the guilt and then remind yourself that you can handle can be helpful. Reminding yourself that people being mad at you is something you can handle is important too.

The power of “no” allows for growth and honesty. Let’s start adding the word “no” into our daily lives and see how it is transformed.

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Dating Red Flags-Confident Counseling Northborough MA

Dating Red Flags

Relationships bring companionship and love into people’s lives. However, not all relationships are healthy and there are quite a few red flags you should keep an eye out for when dating. It is important to know the boundaries between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. Here are common dating red flags you should be aware of:

  1. Listen to how they speak about past relationships.

If your partner speaks very highly of their ex or if they constantly talk poorly about them, It can be a sign that they are still invested in their past relationship or that they are a bitter person.

  1. Is your partner proud of you?

If they never bring you around their friends or their friends still don’t know who you are, it could be they are ashamed of you or the relationship. Either way don’t ignore your instict on this one.

  1. Keeping score constantly.

Someone who constantly keeps score of who did what in a relationship is probably someone who often tries to guilt trip others. Keeping score will quickly build anger and resent in a relationship.

  1. Your partner uses sex for gain.

Someone who uses sex as a reward or withholds it as a punishment is manipulative. This is manipulation and over steps all boundaries a relationship should follow.

  1. They never put effort into the relationship.

It is obvious whether someone wants to be with another person. If you are feeling pretty one-side in a relationship, it won’t be healthy for you to stick around with someone who will leave once something “better” comes along.

  1. Your partner cannot apologize.

Everyone makes a mistake now and again, but the mature thing to do is accept your faults, apologize, and move on. If your partner can neither apologize or accept you’ve made a mistake, run.

  1. If you argue, they get hurtful.

People tend to disagree, that’s normal. What is NOT normal is when someone who says they love you brings up hurtful comments if you get into a disagreement. Red flags like this one can signal abuse.

  1. They are violent.

If you are disagreeing or just going about your business and your partner is verbally, emotionally, or physically violent, no matter what you did, you did not deserve it. It is difficult to get out of a situation like this but you will be much safer once you are free.

  1. They always attempt to change who you are.

Constantly overstepping boundaries by trying to change the person you are is not okay. The person you are with should be with you because they like the person you are, not to mold you into someone else.

  1. They don’t listen to you.

Whether you are trying to tell them you like your food cooked a different way or something else entirely, your partner should listen and take the feedback well. If your partner gets mad that you are trying to tell them something, that’s a bad sign.

  1. Listen to the way they speak.

If you are always hearing them using “My/Me/I” statements and never using “We/US”, they probably don’t see a future with you; on the other hand, they could just be nervous you don’t feel the same way.

  1. They always guilt you into doing things.

Whether they try to guilt you into having sex or spending time with them, you need to set boundaries up really quickly.

  1. They attempt to control every aspect of your life.

It is one thing to help someone when asked but it is an entirely other thing when a significant other tries to tell you exactly what to do.

  1. They are always flaking out on you.

This stands true especially when you first start dating. If you make plans and they are always cancelling last minute, you probably are not high on their priority list.

  1. Your loved ones don’t like them.

Your loved ones look out for you and they know you well. If these people who get along with you and are close to you don’t like the person you are with, they may not be the right one for you.

Chances are, if you searched for this article, you could be in an unhealthy relationship. Your subconscious picks up on signals you might not even notice and can lead you to find out more. If you are in an unsafe or doomed relationship, it is okay to get out. You deserve dating someone who will put effort into being with you and that actually enjoys spending time with you as much as you enjoy spending time with them. Love doesn’t have to hurt.

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Burn out-Confident Counseling Northborough Ma

Signs Of Burn Out

Signs of Burn Out and How to Fix It

Many people suffer from too much stress and often begin feeling helpless, exhausted, and very unhappy. These are all signs pointing to being burned out. In this state, things will often seem pointless and bleak and your energy levels will be at an all-time low. There is hope though, burn out is not the end all, be all.

What is Burn Out?

In the simplest terms, it is the state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion by too much stress for too long. If you have felt overwhelmed and like you are unable to keep up, you are at risk of becoming burned out. As your stress builds up, your energy and will to overcome it lessens. Your productivity and energy will be gone and you may feel depressed. Everyone has bad days here and there, but if every day feels like a bad day, you are probably suffering from being burned out.

What are the Signs of Burn Out?

Emotional Symptoms

  • If you have stopped even attempting to care about what you usually love doing or things that need done.
  • Instead of having one or two bad days every now and then, every day is a struggle that never seems to end.
  • Feeling helpless, having self-doubt, or feelings of being a failure.
  • Feeling trapped and defeated.
  • Suddenly feeling like nothing truly matters and emotionally and mentally detaching from the rest of the world.
  • Loss of will and motivation.
  • An increased bleak perspective on the world.
  • Decreased levels of joy, happiness, and pride.

Physical Symptoms

  • Feeling very fatigued the majority of the time.
  • Becoming sick more often than usual.
  • Lots of body aches and headaches.
  • Changes in appetite or changes to your normal sleep patterns.

Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Ignoring responsibilities and procrastinating.
  • Removing yourself from others and staying in isolation.
  • Procrastinating or just not completing things because it takes too much energy.
  • Using things like food or drugs as a coping mechanism.
  • Using others to take your frustrations out on.
  • Deciding not to come into work, deciding to leave early or come in late just because you want to.

How Can I Fix Having Burn Out?

Use the “Three R” method to start dealing with your burn out problems.

  1. The first step is to Recognize. You need to actually step back and recognize if you are suffering from being burned out.
  2. The second step is to Reverse. You need to undo the damage that has been done by the mountain of stress. Manage the stress you’ve been dealing with and seek the support you need.
  3. The third step is Resilience. Start taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health to avoid any future burn outs.

There are also a few other ways to start your recovery from this mental state. Sometimes it is already too late to prevent this exhaustion and you have passed your breaking point. If you try to force yourself through it instead of taking the time you need, you will only make it worse.

  1. Slow Down!

Once you’ve passed your breaking point, simply trying to force your attitude to change or looking after your physical health won’t be enough to fully bring you back. You need to take a break and let yourself calm down before you start trying to tackle anything else. Give your mind and body some time to rest and recuperate.

  1. Get Some Emotional Support.

Don’t isolate yourself from the rest of the world, it won’t help. Your friends and family are going to be a very big part of your healing process and they will help you to get better. It can really and truly help to let someone else know how you’re feeling without expecting them to try to fix your problems. Make sure you are going to be talking to someone who knows how to listen and won’t automatically fault you for feeling the way you are.

  1. Reevaluate Yourself.

When you’ve passed your breaking point, you know something in your life is not working the way it should. It is a good time to go over your goals and the things you have in life. Is there something you feel like you aren’t doing that’s making you unhappy? Take the time it takes to figure out what set you off.

  1. Face Your Problems Head On.

You probably got way too stressed out because you were avoiding the problems in your life and not addressing them with a plan on how to fix them. Take the active route instead of the passive route in the future and you’ll begin to feel less helpless and more powerful in your everyday life.

Being burned out is a serious problem and it is one you should never be ashamed of. If you have felt helpless and trapped, take a step back and try to figure out why you’ve been feeling this way, then try to do something about it.

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Dealing with Intrusive House Guests Assertiveness- Confident Counseling

Dealing with Intrusive House Guests

Intrusions from carefree guests can be very stressful. It seems like everybody knows, at least, one person that wears out their welcome after a get-together or comes to stay a week and is still there 2 weeks later. Some people can take advantage of a friendship and never display an ounce of guilt or remorse. When this happens to you there are 3 ways you can react. You can be too passive and let the guest take advantage of your kindness. You can also be too aggressive and bring the friendship to a screeching halt or you can be assertive and cope with the problem in a positive and proactive way. Assertiveness is crucial in dealing with intrusive house guests.

Plan & Prepare – The easy way out would be to never invite a potential intrusive guest to a party or for an extended stay in your home. The truth is, you might actually like the person when they are not overstaying their welcome. They might be funny, fun to be with, and a good friend for the most part. However, even the best of friends can clash when boundaries are not drawn and avenues for friction are left wide open and unattended. Whether this person has been invited for a short get together or is coming for an extended visit, prepare for their arrival and have a plan in place to prevent the inevitable.

Establishing Ground Rules – There is a good reason rules exist. They are there to keep things under control. Some people are afraid to set ground rules prior to a planned event because they don’t want to hurt feelings or seem like a “party pooper”. It seems no one wants to be that type of host, but if you don’t pursue this course of action, you are asking for your area to be intruded upon. When boundaries are not set situations can get out of control. Some guests can perceive “no rules” as “anything goes.” Sure, we would like to believe that everyone we know will always be respectful and considerate when invited into our home, but unfortunately, reality tells us something different.

You can prevent guest visits from becoming intrusions by setting the rules prior or at the start of the event. Sometimes it is easier to explain the rules to the entire group so no one feels singled out. Once all the guests have arrived gather them together and make a quick speech. The process does not need to take long, but it needs to be clear and direct. Let everyone know that when the party ends everyone goes home. If there are areas of the home that are off limit; let it be known at this time. If you have spent your hard-earned money on a beautiful carpet or new furniture, ask everyone to be careful. Establishing clear ground rules takes assertiveness, but it can save you unnecessary stress in the long run.

Don’t Be a Doormat – Nobody should voluntarily want to be treated like a “doormat.” But you know the old saying, “nice guys finish last.” There is nothing wrong with being nice, but you cannot allow some people to mistake “kindness” for “weakness.” Just like a wolf, lion or tiger zeros in on the weakling in the herd; the intrusive guest could take advantage of your weakness and move in for the proverbial kill. Your inability to say “no” or to “draw a line in the sand” on specific issues may be perceived as permission to proceed guilt-free. It is imperative that you stand up for yourself and your home against guest intrusions.

The Clear & Direct Approach – Assertiveness is considered to be the ability to express your feelings in a direct, clear, and effective way. It is about standing up for what you want and believe. You can accomplish these goals and still respect the rights of your guest. You can handle guest intrusions while still being proactive and positive. Let’s assume you are letting a friend or relative bunk at your house until they can find a job and their own place to live. It is good to be in a position to help, but boundaries must be set to keep the stay from being “open-ended.” If you simply say the guest can stay until they obtain their goals; they might take it as permission to stay as long as needed.

Let your guest know from the start what you expect. For example, you can ask them to clean up after the mess they make. You should set a time limit on their stay or simply let them move in and forget about it. Unless the guest is only staying a night or two, a different set of boundaries must be set. An extended visit of this type is not a vacation. The guest should be treated respectfully, but their amenities should be more controlled and limited. Visits turn into intrusions when the host lacks assertiveness.

The rules of mutual respect can be observed, but be firm on your objectives. A true friend will not overstep their boundaries unless they assume that none exist. Prepare and address guest intrusions with an honest straightforward approach. There is no stress-free alternative to assertiveness in this scenario.

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Signs your partner is a narcissist-Couples Counseling Confident Counseling Northborough MA

Signs Your Partner Is a Narcissist

The term narcissism has to do with a belief that oneself is more important than others. It comes from the story of Narcissus, who, in Greek mythology, was a handsome young man who was so proud of his good looks that he ignored the people who admired him.  One day, he saw his reflection in a pool of water, and he was so impressed with his beauty that he could not stop looking at himself, until he eventually died.

In Psychology, narcissism does not specifically refer to people who are excessively proud of their physical appearance or their abilities. The identifying characteristics of narcissism are people who focus more on their own feelings than the feelings of others.

There is such a thing as a healthy level of narcissism which is healthy self-esteem.  It is normal for young children to “act as though the world revolves around them”, but as they grow up, their self-concept develops with others by empathy.  They value themselves neither too little nor too much.

As for unhealthy narcissism, its most extreme form is Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which affects about 1% of the total population.  It can affect people of both sexes, but is diagnosed more often in men.  People with pathological narcissism think that the rules of society do not apply to them, and they behave as such.  While many of them come across as arrogant and cruel, most of them have low self-esteem and are insecure.

Sandy Hotchkiss has described seven “deadly sins” of narcissism:

  • Shamelessness – Narcissistic people behave the way they do to cover feelings of shame.
  • Magical thinking – Narcissistic people attribute causal relationships to unrelated events, which can include blaming people for things they did not do or events they could not control.
  • Arrogance – Narcissistic people cover up their insecurity by acting as though they are perfect and can do no wrong.
  • Envy – Narcissistic people often compare themselves to other people and belittle other people’s accomplishments.
  • Entitlement – Narcissistic people take offense when people fail to recognize them as superior or to let them have their way. They get very angry when criticized.
  • Exploitation- Narcissistic people take advantage of other people without remorse.
  • Lack of boundaries – Narcissistic people do not empathize or see things from other people’s point of view.

In a relationship, here are the most common symptoms that you should watch out for:

  1. They have no respect for your space. Asking for space might be a little difficult for people with partners that have narcissistic behavior. They feel like they have power over you, and they always have a say with your decisions in life.
  2. Their reputation is very important. People with narcissism do not mingle with those people who will taint their reputation. They are also very protective and concerned about what other people might think about them.
  3. They are naturally bossy because they believe they know best.
  4. They are insensitive towards your feelings. They don’t purposely do it. It just comes out naturally. They won’t be able to care about your feelings, simply because they are too caught up in their own drama in life, and they only care about themselves.
  5. They have a sense of superiority towards everything. They believe they are above boundaries and so you will notice they violate boundaries you create.
  6. They naturally dominate spaces, especially conversation. They like to be the center of attention and feed their ego. If they are talking about you with their friends they like to boost their own ego by talking about what a wonderful trophy you are.
  7. They are very interested in your relationship in the beginning but, with time they seem disinterested.
  8. They think that showing their emotions is a sign of weakness. They also make you feel worse about yourself to make them feel superior and feed their ego.
  9. For people with narcissistic disorder, they always believe that those around them either love and idolize them or are jealous of them.

It goes without saying that it is very difficult to sustain a relationship with a narcissistic person or to live with a narcissistic spouse or family member.  Because narcissistic people lack insight they are unlikely to seek counseling or otherwise attempt to change their behavior.  Instead, they blame their problems with interpersonal relationships on others.

Living with a narcissistic partner can be a huge challenge.  It can erode your self-esteem, and you can start to blame yourself for all the problems in your relationship. Even if your partner refuses to go to counseling, you should consider seeking individual counseling to prevent further damage to your sense of self. It is impossible to change people who do not want to change, and you may have to accept that you cannot change your narcissistic partner.

Through counseling, you can learn ways to maintain your well-being in spite of your narcissistic partner’s poor treatment. Putting your life back together after years of narcissistic trauma is not easy, but you will be glad to have your life back.

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What can I expect from counseling?

What Can I Expect From Counseling?

If you are in counseling or are thinking of starting, you may have asked yourself “What can I expect from Counseling?” With how the media portrays counseling, it isn’t surprising to have questions or even concerns about what counseling will be like for you.

Of course it is important to understand that counseling is only as effective as you make it. What I mean is that most of the work done in counseling actually comes from you, the client. Imagine the counselor as a guide showing you alternative ways of approaching situations or handling your problems. You as the client have to choose one and carry it out. If you aren’t following through or actively participating, then counseling will be ineffective.

Here are expectations to have for counseling

  • You should expect to increase your awareness of what is causing your struggles and what the roadblocks are.
  • You will be taught new skills and tools to manage your struggles in the present and for the future.
  • Understanding the limits of confidentiality, you can expect a safe place to talk about anything and everything that is on your mind. The limits being that the counselor has a legal obligation to report risk of suicide, homicide or current child or elder abuse. Privacy can also be compromised depending also on whether you have an active court case or if you use your health insurance.
  • You shouldn’t feel judged or worry about scaring the counselor with what you have to share.
  • You should expect to work with a trained professional or have them refer you to someone who will be able to better serve you should they not have the right training or skills to help with your issues.
  • You should feel hope and relief after your sessions.
  • You may feel discomfort and emotional pain depending on what and how severe your struggles are.
  • You should expect to feel “contained” by the end of your counseling sessions and not left unstable or vulnerable.
    • This is important for clients with trauma. As a result, your counselor may wait to discuss a difficult subject at the start of a future session and not at the middle or end.
  • You should expect an environment where are you free to express positive and negative feedback about your counselor’s style or direction of treatment without worrying that they will get upset or offended.

Effective counseling promotes your growth as a person and healing from pain.

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What Are Your Boundaries?

Last time I shared one simple assertiveness technique The Broken Record to use when someone insists on having you do something that you can’t or don’t want to do. Before you can be effective with assertive techniques, it is important for you to know what your boundaries are.

Boundaries are like imaginary lines between you and others. They protect you from feeling guilty for someone else’s negative feelings or problems and from taking others’ comments personally. In order for you to have healthy boundaries you have to know your feelings and values as they relate to yourself and others.

Here are some examples:

  • Psychological – Do you take other people’s comments personally? Do you struggle with feeling responsible for other people’s negative feelings or problems? Are you aware of your own feelings?
  • Material– What do you think of lending or giving things to others (e.g. money, car, clothes, etc..) and what does that look like for you?
  • Mental – What do you believe in? What are your opinions?
  • Physical – Who can give you a hug/kiss/handshake? What are feelings about sharing your space with other people?
  • Sexual– What is your comfort level around sexual activity?
  • Spiritual– What are your beliefs around a higher power/faith?

Boundaries protect your well-being and can change over time. When you know what your boundaries are, you know when and why you need to assert yourself.

 

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