"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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Impostor Syndrome-Do you feel like a fraud? Confident Counseling Northborough MA

Impostor Syndrome-Do you feel like a fraud?

It’s the first day of your new job and you’re excited yet nervous for all that lies ahead. Here you are. You worked hard, probably even over-prepared for this moment, yet you immediately worry that everyone will find out you really don’t belong here. Even though you didn’t lie on your resume, you feel you don’t deserve this. How can they possibly believe you do?

You feel like you fooled everyone into thinking you’re competent, like you “tricked” them. Does this sound familiar? During a moment of success have you doubted yourself or felt that it wasn’t a big deal? It is extremely frustrating to go through moments like this especially when you see others placing confidence in you while you feel like a “fake.” You’re always on the guard, worried that others will “find you out” and realize you’re not worthy.

This phenomenon, Impostor Syndrome is common in perfectionists and overachievers who aren’t able to internalize and accept their success. These people have unrealistically high standards for themselves that it is difficult to meet their own goals. Even when they do reach them, they are more prone to attribute their success to luck than their own skills. This type of intellectual self-doubt is often paired with anxiety and/or depression.

Many people who feel like impostors grew up in families that placed a big emphasis on achievement. Specifically, parents who send mixed messages by alternating between over-praise and criticism can increase the risk of fraudulent feelings developing. Living in a society that focuses on achievements adds to the problem. The result is confusion between approval, love, and worthiness. Self-worth becomes on achieving.

Those struggling with Impostor Syndrome may avoid applying for promotions, for more responsibility and suffer from higher stress. How can you break this pattern?

Challenge your thoughts

You will discover that at the root of your self-doubt is a negative core belief that you’re not good enough. Ask yourself, when will I ever be good enough? What does good enough mean? Challenge this negative thought by finding evidence in favor of it and against it. It helps to ask yourself would I think this of a love one if they were in my shoes? If the answer is no, then ask yourself why you think this way of yourself.

Accept imperfection

Recognize that nobody is perfect. Practice letting go of high standards by doing a “good enough” job and walking away. Make time to appreciate your hard work and create rewards for yourself for completed tasks.

Recognize your strengths

List out the skills you have and learn to accept that you are good at certain things which have value. Yes, there will always be someone better at something, however that doesn’t make your strengths any less important because they are unique to you.

Talk to others about this

Being open and sharing this struggle with those you trust is a way to create awareness for others. They may even help you recognize when you’re engaging thoughts of self-doubt that need challenging. If it is difficult to work on this on your own, consider contacting a counselor to learn skills and challenge negative thinking pattern together. If you struggle with anxiety and depression, a professional will teach you how to cope in a healthy and effective way.

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Help your teen heal after sexual assault Teen counseling Northborough MA

How to help your teen heal after sexual assault

Being the victim of sexual assault is one of the worst things anyone can experience. Discovering that your teen was a victim of sexual assault is the worst thing any parent can hear. Anger, sadness, shock, blame, and helplessness are familiar feelings where you’ll wonder what you could have done to prevent this from happening to your child. While you’re struggling to deal with this wave of emotions, it can seem daunting to understand the best way to help your teen.

As a counselor in private practice, I have worked with several teens that have been sexually assaulted and have worked closely with their parents on how to cope and be the best support possible. I hope this article helps you be the person your child needs.

It’s important to contact the police and take your teenager to the hospital to get the necessary medical care and a rape kit completed. Your child may disagree with going to the authorities initially, however that might change later with time. By going to the authorities, you have a higher chance of preventing this perpetrator from sexually assaulting another person.

An important message for you to convey is that you are here to listen. It is common for sexual abuse survivors to blame themselves, hesitate to tell family for fear of hurting them, or feel stupid for “allowing” this to happen to them. The best thing anyone can do is offer genuine support without any judgments. Do your best to enforce the message that your teen is not to blame regardless of what they were wearing or doing.

Creating a safe place where your child can express all their feelings around the trauma is key. It can be helpful to share your experiences with these emotions as a way of normalizing them for them. Just be careful to not make this be about yourself and stay focused on their feelings. Offer ideas that might help them such as finding counseling, going away together, discussing the loss around the trauma and the meaning. I have worked with teens that were virgins when they were raped and discussing this loss was an important part of their healing. They often worried about having future conversations around how they lost virginity. Support their worries and brainstorm solutions to them.

Find counseling for yourself. This is helpful for two reasons 1) it takes away the negative bias for your teen to see you go into counseling which could promote them to see a counselor too and 2) you will benefit from getting support around how to cope with all the feelings you are facing around this traumatic news. It is important to continue going about your daily routine like before. Right now your teen’s world is upside down and the more normal the rest of the world seems the safer they will feel. If you start to panic and allow yourself to fall into a depressive state, your teen might spiral out of control too. Thus counseling for yourself will help you have an outlet for the spiral of emotions you are facing.

Watch out for extreme behavioral changes like isolating, depressive comments or suicidal remarks. It is common for people to engage in self-harm behaviors like cutting, burning self, promiscuous sex, and substance abuse after traumatic events as a way of coping and gaining back control. Talking to your teen about your concerns in a supportive non-judgmental way will increase their chances of listening to your ideas for help.

Research the consequences of self-harming behaviors such as cutting becoming addictive and a source of future shame if there are scars. Teens often don’t realize the long-term effects of their actions and are often surprised to know that it can become addictive. Try to discover what is triggering them and offer suggestions for ways they can release their emotions such as drawing, hitting something, screaming, going for a walk, taking a hot shower, etc. There are a variety of pleasurable activities that someone can engage in as alternatives to cutting.

Search for teen groups for survivors of sexual support and offer to go with them if they would like. The Rainn (Rape, Abuse and incest National Network) is a great resource for information and finding local groups. Finding others that have gone through similar experiences will be a great way for your teenager to relate to others and get their feelings out and not bottle them in. Recommend counseling for them and offer to attend with them for added support.

If they are engaging in dangerous behaviors or have suicidal thoughts, please take them to your local Emergency Mental Health Department or Emergency Room.

Remember that it’s normal to feel lost and confused. What just happened is not a normal circumstance and so you are having a normal reaction or an abnormal situation. You don’t have to face this with your teen alone, please call a counselor for individual or family guidance. If you can take away any message from this article it is for you to listen to your child, talk to them, validate their emotions, and find support for both of you during this difficult time.

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Truths of road rage by christine becerra lmhc Northborough ma

Truths Of Road Rage

If you’ve ever been in traffic then you’ve probably witnessed or personally felt road rage. Actually if you’ve ever been in a car then you’ve probably come across it. I hate to admit it but I had a recent experience with road rage. This encounter allowed me to learn several truths of road rage.

I was driving home from work in heavy traffic when I was second in line for the toll booth. Another car in a different lane began inching their way next time. As I was next in line I began moving forward when the other car started speeding up while moving closer to me. At this point I realized this car was intent on cutting me and I instantly felt disrespected at their transgression. As sped up, so did he. It was then that I realized we were both losing road and one of us would end up hitting the concrete wall of the booth. I slowed down and let the other car pass.

Immediately I felt stupid for acting so childish over such a trivial situation because I felt the driver cut me in line. I spent the rest of my drive reflecting on this moment and realised several important realizations.

  1. Just how vulnerable we are to your emotions
  2. How much weight we place on daily transgressions
  3. The importance of mindfulness

It was the moment of awareness, being present and analyzing/challenging my thoughts, that saved me from an accident. Since then I take a few moments to breathe and remind myself that I’m happy to be alive, I’m small in this world with so many humans, and that everyone has their story. For all I know that other driver was having a bad day. Either way, just like me he is a human being that is vulnerable to the human condition.

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The Love Dare-Unconditional Love Couples Counseling Confident Counseling Couples Counseling Northborough MA

Vitamin D Deficiency- The Secret Depression

Fall has officially started and for some of us, the leaves are changing and the nights are getting colder. The days are getting shorter and that means less sun exposure. Surprisingly, lack of sun can lead to medical problems that may mimic the symptoms of depression. I’m speaking about Vitamin D Deficiency- the secret depression.

This time last year I noticed that regardless of the number of hours I would sleep (sometimes 10+ on the weekends) I would still feel sluggish and exhausted. As a result of the fatigue I was irritable and had no interest in doing much of anything. It was physically painful getting up for work each morning that I ended up missing more days than I would have liked. At first glance you might think of depression but as a counselor I knew this was something else.

I immediately called my doctor and scheduled blood work tests. A couple of months later I received my lab results and found I had a Vitamin D Deficiency, specifically D3.

Here is a snippet from a MedicineNet.com article:

“Vitamin D is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). There are two forms of vitamin D, D2 and D3. Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, comes from fortified foods, plant foods, and supplements. Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, comes from fortified foods, animal foods (fatty fish, cod liver oil, eggs, and liver), supplements, and can be made internally when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.” According to the vitamindcouncil.org and the Mayoclinic, there are several factors that can increase your risk of Vitamin D Deficiency such as where you live, skin color, and weight.

With my doctor’s guidance, I began taking my recommended vitamin and within a week I felt back to normal. I share this because it’s important to understand how underlying medical issues can imitate symptoms of mood disorders like depression. I definitely don’t suggest everyone stay out in the sun all day every day but I do recommend speaking with your doctor to rule out medical conditions for symptoms that appear to be mood disorders.

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What Will My First Counseling Session Be Like?

I’ve been asked this question from prospective clients and I have asked this question myself before. It can be scary to admit that you aren’t able to solve everything on your own which is why it makes sense that you want to know “What will my first counseling session be like?” Even though the counselor you contact is an identified professional, they are still a complete stranger.

If you are curious about what the first counseling session will be like for yourself or for someone else, I hope this information will encourage you to try counseling or recommend it to someone you know.

First Session:

  • Plan to spend 60-90 minutes with a counselor during the first session (intake).
  • You’ll fill out forms that ask about your contact information, possible screens to check for symptoms and flag follow-up questions.
  • The counselor will discuss your privacy rights, limits to confidentiality, cancellation policies and any other administrative policies.
  • You will answer questions about your day-to-day activities, what concerns you have, medical conditions, medications, family relationships & history, your experience with past counseling if applicable.
  • The counselor will share their specialties, professional training, and clinical style (short-term or long-term, homework vs. no homework).
  • The counselor will make recommendations for treatment options and frequency of sessions that you can either agree or disagree with.

Now underneath all the formal details, you should feel safe to open up without judgment, feel comfortable being in the counselor’s presence and in their office space, and you should leave the first session with a sense of hope that therapy will help you reach your goals. Good counselors will tell you right away if they are not qualified to work with your particular issues and will make recommendations for someone more qualified.

If you feel judged, dislike the counselor’s personality, or realize the counselor doesn’t have the qualifications to work well with you, please find another counselor. There is no point in staying with a counselor if you don’t feel comfortable or trust them enough to open up about difficult topics.

I hope you found this information helpful. Stay tuned for next time as I discuss what you can expect from counseling beyond the first session. Feel free to leave questions or comments below.

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Ways To Feel Better Now

Looking for a pick-me-up? There are those days where it is so much easier to focus on the negativity in our life. “What isn’t working, how it could better if only this or that changed…” I dare you to try this quick exercise to get an instant boost of positive energy and feel better now.

Try any of these quick ways to feel better now.

1) Remind yourself that every thing you do is a choice.

2) For every negative thought you have replace with a blessing in your life (I can see and read this article with eyes that work) :p

3) Call up a positive person in your life

4) Get outside for some fresh air and sun

5) Release any physical tension you have by stretching and/or exercising (e.g. brisk walk)

5 Quick ways to feel better now-northborough MA

For long-term or chronic symptoms please seek professional help.

Feel free to add your own quick ways to feel better now.

The Importance of Self-Care

“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.”-Audrey Lorde

Learning and implementing the importance of self-care can feel like a constant balancing act. How does one make time for oneself when one is constantly being pushed in all directions? Work, relationships, and commitments all demand our time given the limited hours in a day. Making the time to do something that fills you up emotionally, physically, and or mentally is vital to making sure you can pursue those other things without burning out. It is hard to say no to extra demands or to put yourself first without feeling selfish.

Often times, I find that moms struggle with finding this balance. They find themselves feeling angry and exhausted and inadvertently take it out on others around them. When asked to spend some time doing things they enjoy, they struggle with feeling like they need to sacrifice themselves for their family. Remember that finding time for yourself to replenish will not only benefit you, but everyone around you. In the case of a burnt-out mother, your children will thank you for it.

Look at it this way, if you don’t put your need to recharge first, then everything and everyone else will only receive a small percent of you, because you won’t have anything else to give. By taking time to rejuvenate, you are in essence doing everything and everyone else a favor. When you focus on your needs, you will be able to give back 100% to your other commitments and people in your life. What good are you tired, irritable, or angry because you chose to rank other activities and or people ahead of yourself?

I find reading a good book or taking a hot shower helps me recharge after a long day of work.

Here are some other self-care ideas:

  • Exercise
  • Eating healthy
  • Meditation
  • Sleep
  • Medical care
  • Keeping a journal
  • Counseling

What is your self-care?

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Should You Go To Counseling?

I have encountered several prospective clients that have called me asking, “Is counseling right for me?” Many of them were referred by a loved one or have noticed their life falling apart around them without understanding why. My first question to them is, “Is there anything you would like to change or see changed in your life?” Often times they say yes, but don’t know where to begin or unsure how counseling can help.

If you find yourself contemplating whether you should try counseling, ask yourself the following questions.

Is there something you want to change in your life? Do you have the ability to bring about those changes? Do you know how to bring about the changes you would like to see? If you find you lack the skills or the control to make any changes, counseling can be beneficial.

Sometimes accepting what we cannot change can be difficult. For example, you may be frustrated with how your spouse or employer treats you and want them to change. Unfortunately for you, you can only change and control yourself. A counselor will help you learn to accept what you can’t change and teach you skills and ways to cope and react differently.

The hardest part in seeking change can be asking for help. It can feel like you are admitting defeat or you may worry about the negative stigma around going to counseling. Thankfully, this is changing as more people are discovering the benefits of getting help. Just remember that by asking for help, you are choosing to take the driver’s seat in your life to meet your goals.

Should you go to counseling?

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