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Faith-In-Motion Seminars: “Healing The Family Constellation”

Join me as I kick off 2018 with a new series of Faith-In-Motion Seminars. Sponsored by the San Luis Obispo County Department of Social Services, Grace Central Coast, and Cuesta College, this seminar scheduled on January 22, from 9 am to 12 noon, will be on “Healing the Family Constellation.” 

I will be talking about the healing power of the family from a faith-based, trauma-informed approach. In addition, we will have a panel that represents the adoption constellation. They will share their diverse stories and answer some practical, real-life questions.

In this month’s seminar, we will discover the pro’s and con’s of open adoption, the various levels of relationship between adoptive parents, children, bio family members, extended family, and professionals. You will collect powerful trauma tools to heal the damaging effects of toxic stress and trauma. And, of course, there will be a time for questions and answers.

There is NO FEE to attend this seminar. Training hours are available. I hope to see you there.

Download the flyer here!

Helping Children With Anxiety

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We have created a new course for parents on “Helping Children With Anxiety”. You can view it now in our Online Courses page (click here). This course will include:

  • What is Anxiety?
  • Developing Your Child’s Emotional IQ
  • How NOT To Pass Anxiety On To Your Children
  • 8 Helpful Things (Strategies) To Say To An Anxious Child
  • Children’s Fears: Create a S.A.F.E.R. H.O.M.E.
  • Teach Your Child To Be A Worry Warrior and a Fear Fighter
  • A Healthy Gut is a Happy Gut!

SPECIAL OFFER: Our Freedom From Anxiety program is now available as a monthly membership program. Get new tools for the body/mind/spirit and overcome anxiety for only $29.95 per month. Don’t miss this unique offer…click here for more info!

 

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A family is a group of power-full people…

Ron’s Reading: Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries

One of the most common aggravations experienced by parents is the “power struggle”. It usually happens when the parent has to get to work or needs to finish dinner or help the child with their homework. Right in the middle of this urgent time, the child decides to exercise their will and demand a treat or refuse to put on their shoes or wants to argue about some topic they really don’t know anything about. Regardless of the circumstances, the outcome is two yelling, arguing, snorting, bug-eyed people who just want the other person to do what they want them to do. No fun for anyone!

Why does this happen so often in families? Danny Silk is one of my favorite authors and I recommend his books to many of the parents I work within family therapy or parenting workshops. In his book: “Keeping Your Love On: Connections, Communication & Boundaries” he shares how a family is a group of powerful people who are trying to learn how to live in powerful ways. He writes: “If you heard someone described as a powerful person, you might assume he or she would be the loudest person in the room, the one telling everyone else what to do. But powerful does not mean dominating. In fact, a controlling, dominating person is the very opposite of a powerful person. Powerful people do not try to control other people. They know it doesn’t work, and it’s not their job. Their job is to control themselves.”

The trick, for parents, is not to demand respect but to create a respectful environment where non-respect, talking back and control simply can’t exist. There just isn’t enough oxygen for those negative elements to survive. Learning how to be a powerful and responsible person is one of the most important tasks of parenting.

You can get more information (and read along with me) on Danny’s book here: Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries

 

Keeping Love Alive

lovealive

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

How we love family members during the emotional distances and dark shadows of our relationships determine the long-term quality of those relationships. All relationships have ups and downs and our ability to ride out the extremes is challenging but a normal process of loving others. At the heart of the dark moments, we want to abandon the roller coaster ride for the firm safety of the ground. Our inner brains want us to fight or flee or if both of these options fail us, to freeze internal emotional reality. How do we overcome the turbulence and deep disconnect for the long haul?

One truth is to develop our identity and remind ourselves that relationship is not contained in the ups and downs but over the entire course of life. Look for the long tail of relationships and how to keep a spark alive even if it just nurture by you and not the other. The fight or flight mechanism of the brain wants us to rush our actions or reactions when we really need to do in these crucibles is slow down and evaluate our choices. My best advice to families in the middle of chaos is to slow down but that is one of the hardest things to do. Many fail in the attempt.

A lot of my therapeutic work is with adoptive families. Many times the early life trauma results in an out-of-control teenager that ultimately forces the parent to consider residential care. They believe they have failed as parents and the relationship feels like it has ended. The truth is that relationship trumps residence. Your connection is stretchier than you thought. You may have to make a decision to create distance to ensure safety but you are not letting go of the relationship. You are protecting it and that is very different.

Because we like “up” moments filled with laughter and hugs and emotional closeness and hate the “down” moments with its harsh words, self-pity, victimization, and loneliness, we can start a rocking motion that swings faster and faster between the ups and downs. Pushing on one side and then the other increases chaos that throws everyone off the see-saw entirely.

When I work with bitter couples, hurt by infidelity and emotional rejection, I ask them to step off the see-saw, remember what attracted them to each other, the values they used to believe and to forgive one another. Too many nurture the wound and do not receive the healing. It is difficult to forgive but unforgiveness is like a poison that kills the heart of the relationship. It doesn’t say what was done was acceptable or that I will “forget and forgive”. You do not forget but you must forgive to allow life to start up again. From here we rebuild new creations that last.

Give up the illusion of control. You cannot control anyone else. You only have 100%, guaranteed results with yourself. You must manage you. Controlling your reactions is what allow the extreme ups and downs to settle and become smooth again. Take 5 to keep your relationship alive and pause to consider your best long-term actions. Take 10 and then reconsider again. If you need to make a hard, drastic decision, it is better to take the time to think it through completely vs. carrying a weight of regret.

Identity is the most important ingredient in loving through the distance.  Victim-minded people seek their identity through others instead of operation from a place of a sense of self. If I need you in order to be me and you are the source of my hurt and pain, then I cannot manage me that doesn’t exist. I cannot sustain a relationship that is one-sided. Start a journey of knowing yourself and your needs and your drives and your desires to deal with others in the distant relationships. Operating FROM a place of identity allows you to remain you even if others reject you. A simple starting place is journaling or talking to a therapist.

A final truth is that love is unconditional. It doesn’t have to agree with the other person’s actions or allow it to continue damaging the family but it doesn’t have to turn off. It can continue from a safer distant to provide an opportunity to bring it into closer intimacy. We don’t turn off love when others don’t do what we want. That is false power. Real power says I can set a boundary and I can exist without you but I choose to continue to love you. If you do not choose the same than I will remain me and love myself and others too.

It’s about justice…and mercy!

justiceandmercy

by Ron Huxley, LMFT

How can we be full of mercy and open ourselves up to the hurt that is in the world when there seems to be so little justice to balance it? My faith calls me to help the broken-hearted but I will be honest, there are days when it just too much. Bearing witness to the trauma and pain in the world can be traumatizing to me. Is that true for you?

The problem comes when people have hearts of mercy but end up empty and burnt out from over giving. Sometimes this comes from our own brokenness and at times it is from simply not staying full of mercy so that we always have enough supply.  Mercy givers are good at giving but not so much at receiving.

As a man of faith, it is easy to think about God acting through me instead of God working in me. There is a big difference between being called and being driven. Our acts of mercy can become performance-driven instead of heart reactive. We have to live our lives honoring our own emotional and physical needs. It is vital that we practice what we preach and have good diets, exercise regularly, make healthy connections, and take time alone with God.

The real secret is to operate from a place of “overflow”. It is far easier to give to others when are continuously full and overflowing. Operating from a place of excess is a healthier balance than continual lack.

Individuals with hearts of mercy are called to “guard their hearts”. Two practices that help us stay full of mercy to cope with the injustices of the world is gathering up little moments of mercy and to find time for silence and solitude every day. It is easy to believe that the refueling process it about filling up on knowledge, reading more scripture or memorizing more bible versus. These are beneficial but they won’t fill that deep inner space.

Discerning the glories of the world is crucial. What are the lovely, pure, beautiful, noble and sweet moments of our life that pop up around us? As the poet says, did you stop and smell the roses? You might find that divine moment of mercy seeing a sunset or catch a babies smile. Maybe you need to stop and listen to all the words of your favorite song on the radio when it comes on. You could even dance a little. Cherishing the little moments will add up to huge rewards in our hearts.

Guarding our hearts also refers to saying “No” to what drains you. It is such a little work but it takes so much effort for people with hearts of mercy to say it. The truth is that you will have to say no to some things if you want to say yes to others. There are only so many hours in a day and you are not superhuman. Make a choice.

Dallas Willard, the famous theologian, describes our first freedom as humans is the freedom to choose where we want to direct our thoughts each day. You have the power to choose well.

In my Christian faith, silence and stillness are hallmarks of the heavenly relationship. I am sure other faith traditions have similar invitations to inner transformation. Most faith goers hate silence and stillness. Be honest, you know you do!

Ruth Haley Barton, in her book “The Invitation to Solitude and Silence” comments: “Because we do not rest we lose our way…Poisoned by the hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest. And for want of rest out lives are in danger.”

Ruth goes on to claim that our refusal to rest in spirit and body is an attitude of arrogance, that we don’t need what God has modeled as a need to take Sabbath rests in our busy weeks.

I have found that hurt people don’t want to stop and rest because they don’t want to hear what God might have to say to them. There could be areas of their lives they are neglecting and they don’t want God reminding them of the need to take care of areas of dysfunction. It’s easier to focus on others needs and not our own, right? People with hearts of mercy can be broken too. Wounded healers can answer the needs of the world without allowing God to heal them first.

I remember the time my own counselor/spiritual mentor told me that I can’t be a “father until I learned how to be a son.” Those words hit home hard. I wanted to improve my effectiveness as a leader, be a more involved dad, and have more influence in my business. Instead, I was continually burnt out and frustrated. I had to turn my focus to concentrate on my own relationship with God. As a result, I spend the next year not allowing myself to taking new leadership roles and adopting new projects. My focus was on being healed and taking personal retreats so that I could restore my identity as a “son”. This is what sustains my ability to be a good “father”. This time away increased my heart capacity and is the source of my merci-fullness.

My challenge to readers who have “hearts of mercy” is to list 5 things that you will do for your own Sabbath rests. How will you rediscover what it means to be sons and daughters? Set a time for silence and solitude. Be OK saying no. Others need to see that light in your life to balance the dark injustices of the world.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7

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traumatraining

Need a Trauma-Informed Trainer? Contact Ron today!

One brain, many different experiences


Nobody likes to have a negative experience of fear, sadness or anxiety. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to shift his mental states two more positive experiences of peace, joy, love. That’s when I realized that we are using the same brain to have very different experiences. Same brain structures, chemicals, and energy networks are being used for both negative and positive states.

In my studies of neurophysiology I discovered there are very similar mechanisms being used for things like anxiety and excitement! Additionally, we are using the same structures to experience past traumas as well as future expectations. The slide above is from a research study in the field of trauma resolution, particularly the use of EMDR as an intervention for trauma.

EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It’s obviously quite a mouthful. Basically utilizes I have moments to help us manage dramatic situations in our past so they don’t continue the hunt are present and destroy our hopes of a future. The technique was created by Francine Shapiro a psychologist working with traumatized veterans. In the research study illustrated above, The demonstrates how the brain scan can reveal a similar activation when we Thunk about past events as well as future hopes and dreams.

When working in trauma-informed care, we can utilize the same channels in our brain and mind to focus on more positive experiences. We are not limited to only one set of negative experiences. When adding thanks to our trauma informed care, we are able to inject hope it comes from a source greater than ourselves and yet moves in and through us. When we operate in agreement with this belief that we are protected and cared for by a God who loves us unconditionally, we are able to transform our past thoughts about trauma into a hopeful future that start now.

If you would like help at your next training event how to build faith-based, trauma-informed practices contact Ron today at rehuxley@gmail.com .

Love often involves sacrifice

Love often comes with sacrifice. This is especially true in our family relationships. There is frequently a laying down if our own wills, dreams, and plans as parents, husbands and wives. But together we can partner I guess the problems present themselves to steal, kill, and destroy our most precious intimacies. We do not have to let trials define our identity. We can remain true to who we are and what we believe been when it is hard because God always honors sacrifice.

Punishment is outdated…or is it?

Punishment is outdated…or is it it? How faith-based families discipline their children

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

One of the most frequently used methods of parenting is spanking. Shocking? Yes, but parenting polls continue to report that parents “fall back” to old habits of when they where parented. In the past, American society advocated for parents to spank their children. A sign of good parenting used to be if you spanked your disobedient child or not. Today, the American attitude is just the opposite. If a parent spanks their child, they are considered abusive and threatened to be reported to the authorities.

The reason for this shift in parenting methods is obvious: Too many parents spank out of anger and hurt their children. There is another reason for not spanking that is a lot more reasonable: it isn’t effective and there are so many other parenting tools that can be used. Long-term, negative outcomes of spanking is delinquency, substance abuse, and psychological problems.

Punishment and Discipline is not the same thing. Punishment refers to threatening, hitting, or using harsh treatment that might include prolonged isolation, humiliation and shaming behaviors. Discipline is about teaching or guiding children in the right direction so that they can be responsible people.

Christian parents use the verse, from the Bible, that “whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24. This verse has nothing to do with hitting children. It is all about guiding children and being a moral leader and example to them.

Another verse states: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4. Parents that use punishment do not produce children who feel happy and confident. It teaches them to be sneakier and models force as an answer to problems.

If parents today really thought about their own upbringing, they would remember that spanking didn’t help them. Many would tell stories that were terrifying and painful, emotionally and physically. Why use that method to parents our own children? Better to find tools that work.

Get a special report on the 4 Reasons Children Misbehave and how you can redirect your child to be responsible and fun to be around. Click here now!

Respect Your Parents…and Your Child

Respect Your Parents…and Your Child

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

Mutual respect based on the assumption of equality, is the inalienable right of all human beings. Parents who show respect for the child–while winning his respect for them–teach the child to respect himself and others. Equality in this sense is treating each person with respect and integrity, no matter what their age. This also leaves room for parents to be in charge and to set some non-negotiable rules and limits, but to do so in a respectful manner.

The Important of REST when Parenting A Traumatized Child

parenting a traumatized child

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

Parenting a traumatized child can be challenging and exhausting work. It isn’t something that should be done alone without adequate support. Parents must take care of themselves as well as others. You can’t give away what you don’t have… Faith-based families look to God for their help (Psalms 121:1-2) and operate from a place of REST:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“He restores my soul.” Psalms 23:

REST stands for RE-store your Soul from Trauma. Our soul includes our entire being: body, mind/emotions and spirt. Each area requires attention. How do we do that when we have an endless to-do list, dealing with continuous problems?

The key is to find rest IN work, not FROM work. It is a mental recognition that we can be in partnership with God and others. We can set boundaries and say “No” to outside activities, not live up to others expectations, and remembering “who you are and whose you are” spiritually speaking. You have to be a “son or daughter”  before you can be a fully functioning father or mother. Seek out spiritual parents to support you as you carry on the work of parenting traumatized children.

List 5 ways you will restore your soul in the next 30 days:

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