Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Celebrating Acceptance: Dealing with Uncertainty

Photo courtesy of Nancy Hall

By Nancy Hall, MA, NCC, LPC

In Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly she states: 
I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow—that’s vulnerability.
This notion of uncertainty often trips us up. While intellectually we know we can’t foresee every risk or predict every outcome, we continue to armor ourselves against hurt. We keep our defenses fortified so that we can be protected from the sneak attack of hurt or rejection. We avoid vulnerability until we feel certain that we won’t get hurt—until we’ve collected enough evidence and data.

Sounds logical, right? After all, we’re not going to offer up our hearts without evaluating the risks. And that’s important—to a point.

The problem with looking for certainty is that it doesn’t exist. We can never know for sure that we won’t be hurt or rejected. We can play the odds, consider other people’s past behavior, and pay attention to our gut. But certainty in relationships doesn’t exist. But that’s not all bad news.

Uncertainty allows us to learn and grow; it challenges us and is the avenue for deeper relationships. Uncertainty spurs us to learn to trust ourselves. To believe that even if the worst were to happen, that we’ll be OK. When (not if) hurt and rejection occur, we can find our inner resilience and grow from the experience.

The Awaken to Action theme at The Awakening Center for December is Acceptance. So I challenge you to accept uncertainty—to notice where you’re clinging to or desperately seeking certainty. Notice how accepting uncertainty can create opportunities for closeness and vulnerability. Remember, acceptance doesn’t mean approval—it’s merely acknowledging the reality of the situation.

So when you’re grasping for certainty that is elusive—try saying to yourself, “this is how it is right now.” That phrase alone creates acceptance in your heart.

Like us on Facebook to keep track of the Celebrate Acceptance challenges for December.

Nancy is a staff therapist at The Awakening Center. In addition to seeing clients for individual therapy, she facilitates the adult DBT group and the Eating Disorder Therapy Group. Like her on Facebook and subscribe to her personal blog

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tummy Turmoil

"Frozen Foods with String Beans," Irving Penn {c} Irving Penn Foundation
By Michel Harris, MS, RD, LDN, CDE
A significant part of the recovery process from an eating disorder involves adapting to a “normalized” eating pattern. However, many individuals experience one or more of the following gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms when they start the refeeding process: abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and feeling uncomfortable full. Sometimes, healthy behavior changes make one feel worse in comparison to when he or she was practicing disordered behaviors like food restriction, binging, and purging.
            There are several reasons why these unwanted symptoms occur, and all relate to the physiological changes that occur with continuous disordered behaviors. The entire GI is composed of muscles that are stimulated to contract when one starts eating. Similar to the muscles in your arms and legs, if there is nothing to promote movement, these muscles become sluggish and weak. If one restricts his or her intake, either by eating very small amounts of food or going for long periods of time without eating, the muscles remain “under-exercised.” Laxative use for purging may cause diarrhea, constipation, and/or diarrhea. These symptoms tend to persist, even after discontinuing the use of a laxative.
            Unfortunately, these unwanted symptoms tend to encourage individuals to resume disordered behaviors because the mind-set of “why bother, when I am try so hard” sets in. However, these symptoms will resolve after a few weeks of consistent refeeding. In the meantime, the tips below can help reduce GI discomfort from refeeding.
·                 The refeeding process needs to occur gradually. One should never drastically increase his or her daily calorie intake because it could lead to serious medical complications (heart failure). If you are not in a medically supervised program, seek the help of a Registered and Licensed Dietitian (RDN) who can help with meal planning.
·                 An RDN will assist in creating a meal plan that includes foods from all groups. Avoid the inclination to fill up on high-fiber, low-calorie foods (fresh fruits and vegetables, whole wheat products); excessive amounts of fiber may contribute to diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, or constipation (if fluid intake is not adequate). Plus, you may feel too full to consume other nutrient-dense foods from the other groups.
·                 Eat smaller, more frequent meals to reduce the load on your GI system. This will gradually get an under-used GI system back into shape! The general recommendation is to eat something every three to four hours.
·                 Stay hydrated but don’t fill up on water. Fluid intake is important, but try not to drink too much with meals to avoid early satiety.
·                 Find options to ease your symptoms. There are over-the-counter medications to help with some of these GI symptoms, but you should consult with you medical doctor (MD) before purchasing any.
            No one needs to tell you that recovery is difficult! Keep in mind that your decision to seek treatment deserves much praise and continual encouragement. The discomfort felt at the beginning pays off in the future.
            On a final note, if after several weeks of following a recommended meal plan, persistent signs of abdominal pain, unintentional vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and/or early nausea warrants a follow-up visit with your MD. He or she can assess your condition, and determine if a referral to a GI doctor is necessary.
Michel Harris a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and serves on the staff of The Awakening Center. She believes in the mindful approach to develop a peaceful relationship with food and exercise in the recovery process of eating disorders. To find out more or to set up an appointment with Michel, call 773.929.6262.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Couples on the Brink

By Susan Morlock, MA, LPC

Nearly everyone enters marriage or a committed relationship with the dream of a lifelong union. But many couples reach a crisis point where breakup is on the table. Usually there is one “leaning-out” partner, who thinks that splitting up might be the best way to move forward, and one “leaning-in” partner, who wants to preserve the relationship and make things better.
            If this is your situation—one of you leaning out and the other leaning in—it’s a tough place to be. Traditional couple’s counseling may not be helpful if one of you is not sure you want to work on the relationship at this point.            
            Fortunately, there is a new way of helping you. Discernment Counseling can help you find clarity and confidence about next steps. It can help you find a deeper understanding of what’s happened to your relationship and each person’s contributions to the problems. It’s not couple’s counseling aiming to solve your problems or bring you closer. Instead, Discernment Counseling helps you figure out whether your problems can be solved and whether you both want to try.
           Discernment Counseling focuses on three paths:
  1. Staying married or partnered as you have been
  2. Separating or divorcing
  3. Making a six-month, all-out effort in couple’s therapy to see if you can make your relationship healthy and good for both of you.

           As you consider these paths in Discernment Counseling, you will learn more about your relationship and about yourselves as individuals—information that will help you make a good decision about the future.
         Discernment Counseling sessions involve mostly conversations between each individual partner and the counselor, along with some therapy time as a couple. The counselor respects each person’s perspective—reasons to end the relationship and reasons to preserve it.
         Discernment Counseling is short-term work, as brief as one session and as long as five. You are committing yourselves to only one session at the outset; then each time, you decide whether to return, for up to a maximum of five sessions. The first session is two-hours long and any subsequent sessions are one-and-one-half hours.
         Confronting problems in a partnership can be painful. But Discernment Counseling can help you clarify your intentions in an accepting and nonjudgmental setting. When each person feels validated, the pressure can lift, and decisions about the future of the relationship can be made with compassion and clarity.
Susan Morlock, MA, LPC is a staff therapist at The Awakening Center. She has specialized training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Trauma Therapy using EMDR, Discernment Counseling, Internal Family Systems, and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Her areas of expertise include anxiety, depression, stress and anger management, job and career concerns, eating disorders, and relationship issues. To find out more about Discernment Counseling or to get in touch with Susan, call 773-929-6262 x 20 or email morlocksusan@yahoo.com. www.theawakeningcenter.net.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Awaken to Action: Celebrating Acceptance

By Amy Y. Grabowski, MA, LCPC
No matter whom you voted for last month, I’m sure you’ve been aware of an atmosphere of anger, discord, and fear that has permeated our community, our city, and especially our country. Many, myself included, felt anxious, confused, and helpless. Reading about how people were reacting with acts of violence and bigotry was very distressing. The day after the election, my friend’s 5th grade son came home from school very upset. Apparently, one of his classmates walked down the hallway, pointed at other students, and declared, “You’re deported, you’re deported, you’re deported. You’re white, so you can stay.” My heart ached when I heard that! Our children should not be learning these attitudes and behaviors! That is not the way I want the future of our society to be! 
            I strongly believe that, as Mahatma Gandhi said, we must be the change we wish to see in the world. If we want a society that is accepting and loving, we must be accepting and loving. The staff at The Awakening Center and I believe that we all need to DO something to help heal ourselves and those around us. It felt good to meet together as a group and come up with ideas that will help turn the hatred around. 
            Going forward, each month, The Awakening Center will celebrate a quality that we want to see in the world. Throughout December, TAC will recognize and honor ACCEPTANCE! We will post “challenges,” which are little actions you can take to spread acceptance. Some are easy: “Smile at someone you don’t know.” Others take more effort: “Learn about another culture.” Our hope is that by doing simple challenges you will feel empowered and hopeful about the future of our society.
            We hope that through these simple acts of celebration and acceptance, we can strengthen our sense of community and reaffirm our support for one another. We can embrace our differences of race, ethnicity, heritage, language, and culture. We can celebrate our diverse religions, beliefs, and customs. We can honor our sexual orientations and gender identities. We can embrace our special needs. We can celebrate you and value you as unique human beings. 
            Let’s protect and take care of each other. Let’s speak up and support one another. Let’s fill our hearts with love for each other. 
P.S. We are trying to get 1,000 “Likes” on our Facebook page, so check us out at https://www.facebook.com/TheAwakeningCenter/. And please consider sharing this on your own Facebook page and encourage others to “Like” us as well.


Amy is the Founder and Director of The Awakening Center and the author of An Internal Family Systems Guide to Recovery from Eating Disorders: Healing Part by Part, which will be published in 2017.