What are Boundaries?

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The word "boundaries" is kind of a buzz word in the self-help and counseling world but what are "boundaries" really?  Where did the concept come from?  Why do we need them?  It's a little easier to understand boundaries if we look at the physical world first.  It can be a picket fence, a brick wall, or a no trespassing sign.  All of these examples indicate where one person's property begins and ends; they signify, this is what I am responsible for and what you are not responsible for, as well as what I am not responsible for.   Thinking of a boundary as a fence, you can see that they function to protect us from allowing the bad in, but also needs a "gate" to allow good and bad out.  There are several different types of boundaries.

  • Physical-  skin is a great example of a person's physical boundary.  It literally defines where your body begins and ends.  The skin protects your body by holding everything together but does not let germs in.  It also has "gates" to let the good, i.e. food in and waste out.
  • Mental-  these boundaries give you the freedom to have your own thoughts and opinions.  A mental boundary are our words, especially the word No.  These boundaries give us the freedom to say "yes, I like chocolate cake!" and "no, I don't like waking up early!".
  • Emotional-  emotional boundaries help us to take responsibility for our own feelings and emotions and not attempt to take responsibility for the feelings of others.  This is especially helpful when engaging with others who may use manipulation to get what they want from you.

Many Christians believe that having boundaries is unloving, selfish, and even sinful.  The concept of boundaries actually comes from God!  He demonstrates throughout the Bible his setting of boundaries.  He defines himself as a distinct and separate being (physical).  He takes responsibility for mental and emotional boundaries by telling us what he thinks, feels, allows, will not allow, and likes and dislikes.  

God not only says he has these boundaries but also enforces them.  Enforcement of boundaries is another area where Christians may struggle.  We begin to feel guilty if we follow through with our boundaries.  God demonstrates His follow through by confronting sin and allowing for the consequences of a person's choices.

When a person has poor boundaries or boundary enforcement, they start to experience problems like feeling overwhelmed, guilty, exhausted, like a failure, a doormat, burnt out, rage, abuse, resentment, and many other negative side effects.  These feelings and thoughts often lead to negative coping techniques like food, alcohol, or drug abuse; excessive shopping or even eating disorders.

If you would like to learn more about having healthy boundaries and how they can help you live a more fulfilling life, please call me at 210-789-9166 or email me here.  I would love to help you!

A great resource for understanding boundaries is the book Boundaries by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend.

How Can I Help?

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Have you ever wondered "how can I really help others?" or "what more can I do to help others?" This is especially true now, with all of the recent hurricanes and earthquakes.  Pictures flood social media of volunteers helping others who've been devastated by these natural disasters as well as those who have been serving others for so many consecutive hours, they are completely exhausted and their bodies are giving out.  This doesn't only happen in times of extreme circumstances, it can happen to any of us during our normal lives.  We often are so busy taking care of everyone else, we put ourselves on the back burner and never get around to taking care of ourself.  But, if you really, truly want to effectively help others, you have to take care of yourself!  If you neglect yourself, you may experience feelings of exhaustion, resentment, guilt, burnout, and even hopelessness.  Incorporating self-care practices can restore your energy and give you a renewed passion for the important work you do, whether you are a caregiver, volunteer, or professional helper!

 Here are some self care ideas:

  1. Be Still:  I wanted to start with this idea because I believe we are in such a hurry all the time that many of us are never still!  This can be time to sit quietly, pray, or a little of both.
  2. Exercise:  I know it is difficult to find time to exercise but if you do make time for taking care of yourself in this way, you won't regret it!  I especially love yoga.  Yoga not only falls under the exercise category, but also has added benefits of stress reduction and muscle tension release.
  3. Meditation:  I know many people are a little skeptical when they hear the word meditation and Eastern religions may come to mind.  Meditation does not have to be that way!  I recently was told about an app called Headspace.   I have been using it for several months now and love it.  This app is a guided meditation and starts with just 10 minutes a day.  Utilizing meditation as part of your bedtime routine can help prepare you for a restful nights sleep.  
  4. Diet:  Making healthy food choices can really impact your mood and energy level.  I've heard of many people who forget to eat because they are so busy, and then wonder why they have no energy or respond impatiently with their children.
  5. Friends:  We were created for relationships!  Not only with God, but also with others.  Making time to build relationships with likeminded people is vital to our wellbeing.  
  6. Hobbies:  Figure out something you enjoy doing and set aside some time to do it.  Life is so much more enjoyable when you are not only doing all the things you have to do but the things you want to do too!


If you are interested in learning more about self-care practices or if even the thought of doing something to take care of yourself results in feelings of guilt, I'd love to talk with you.  Call me for your free 15-minute phone consultation or to discuss counseling at 210-789-9166 or email me here.

Postpartum Depression

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I've come to realize there is a huge misconception about what Postpartum Depression is and is not!  This is especially true when I talk with moms.  Normally, when I talk with moms of young children, we discuss the difficult thoughts and feelings that can come with this phase of life and I share with them my experiences.  They then will ask me what I did that helped.  When I bring up the idea of Postpartum Depression, they immediately state that they never wanted to hurt their child.  At first, I was confused with why moms were responding this way but after having the same conversation with several different moms, I realized they were confusing Postpartum Depression and Munchausen by Proxy.  

Postpartum Depression is actually very different from Munchausen by Proxy.  The symptoms of Postpartum Depression include:
sadness
fatigue
weight loss or gain
sleep issues
feelings of worthlessness
difficulty concentrating
thoughts of death or suicide
anxiety
anger
irritability

When a mother is suffering with postpartum depression, she normally experiences severe anxiety and concern for the wellbeing of her baby.

While Postpartum Depression is classified as a Major Depressive Disorders, Munchausen by Proxy, is classified as a Factitious Disorder.  The symptoms associated with Factitious Disorders imposed on another include:
Falsifying or inducing physical or psychological illness in their child
Presenting their child to others as ill, impaired, or injured
Appears to be the victim or hero

More information on Munchausen by Proxy can be found here.  

Once I realized that moms believed Munchausen by Proxy and Postpartum Depression were the same thing, I began to understand why many moms stay struggling and suffering with Postpartum Depression rather than getting help.  If you are one of these moms who is experiencing the symptoms of Postpartum Depression and the shame associated with these feelings, I want to offer you hope!  You are not alone and I want to help you go from struggling to get through the day to excitement and joy about the future.  Call me at 210.789.9166 to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation or email me here.

Discovering Your Design?

You may have wondered, “Am I an introvert or an extrovert?”  There are a lot of misconceptions about what introvert and extrovert mean.  Many people believe that introverts are shy and quiet, may have nothing of value to contribute to a conversation or the workplace because they seldom do contribute vocally.  Extroverts, on the other hand, may be thought of as the life of the party, the automatic leader, or the person to look to for answers.  While these tendencies may be true in a handful of cases, this is not what it means to be extroverted or introverted.

When people are “labeled” with these stereotypes, they may begin to believe they “have nothing of value to contribute” or must “have all the answers”.  This can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.   

Questions to ask yourself:

·      Do I draw energy from being in groups, or do groups draw energy out of me
·      Do I work better in a team setting or on my own
·      Do I express myself better through speaking or in writing
·      Do I enjoy solitude
·      Do I enjoy having “all eyes on me”

Knowing more about the way God created you can be very valuable.  If one is more introverted, they may seek work settings that allow them to have quiet space for working on a project alone.  For the more extroverted, they may thrive in settings where they are not isolated and have the ability to collaborate with others.  This knowledge can help you embrace the unique person God created you to be, helping you develop compassion not only for others, but also for yourself. 
 
I hope this helps you know yourself better!  If you would like to discuss these questions further and how to embrace your design, call me at 210.789.9166 for your free 15 minute phone consultation.  I would love to help you.

How to Find a Christian Counselor in San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas is a great place to live!  If you already live here then you already know this.  We have a small town feeling community with all the benefits of a large city.  Having lived all over the country, I can tell you some of the nicest people I have ever met are in San Antonio!

Finding a Christian counselor in San Antonio, Texas seems more daunting than it should be.  With so many large Christian churches around the city, it would make sense that there would be a need for a licensed professional counselor who would be able to counsel from a Christian perspective. 

Sometimes Christians have a hard time coming to terms with having "problems" and asking for help.  They may have heard that they just need to pray more, or lack faith.  These same people would have no trouble seeking help from a professional if they needed glasses or had a broken bone but if it comes to relational issues or feeling overwhelmed, seeking professional help isn't as acceptable.

For these reasons, many Christians either don't seek help or quickly become overwhelmed when trying to find a counselor who will have a similar Christian worldview.  How do you know if someone is really a Christian counselor and not just a counselor who says they're a Christian?  How do you know if they really understand what you're feeling and experiencing?

Here is a list of questions to ask a potential Christian counselor:

  1. What does it mean to you when you say you're a Christian counselor?
  2. What kind of training has prepared you to offer Christian counseling?
  3. Do you use empirically proven theories and methods or only use the Bible?
  4. Do you incorporate biblical principles in the counseling process?
  5. Do you think you can help me and why?
  6. Have you ever worked with a client like me?

In a ideal world, you would quickly and easily find a counselor who has specific training and expertise in the best and latest theories and who is a mature Christian specifically trained to incorporate a Christian worldview and professional counseling theories.  Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world.  So, in addition to these question you are going to be looking for someone who you feel comfortable with, you like and believe you can trust, and someone you feel comfortable enough having an authentic conversation with.

I hope this helps you!