Had any assumptions shattered lately?

The last two years have been one of daily uncertainty and fear, but a crisis is also a great revealer of the myths and idols we hold. It “knocks us off our thrones” and breaks our “assumptive worlds.” Our assumptions are the beliefs we hold about who we are and the world we live in…at times, like these, they don’t hold up. In fact, they can shatter into thousands of meaningless thoughts.

In social psychology, shattered assumptions theory proposes that traumatic events can change how victims and survivors view themselves and the world. We all have three inherent assumptions including “overall benevolence, the meaningfulness of the world, and self-worth.” They are the bedrock of our conceptual system, and as such, they are the ones we are least aware of and least likely to challenge. We become confident in our beliefs and use them to plan and act in daily living. If nothing challenges them they allow our lives to move along smoothly.

Sadly, traumatic life events shatter core assumptions, and coping with them requires a new effort to construct more realistic and viable assumptions. We have to rebuild our belief systems to fit the new world we live in.

Core Beliefs:

The world is benevolent

The world is meaningful

The self is worthy

This can be painful for people of faith who end up questioning their faith. When our assumptive worlds shatter, it causes believers to questions the goodness of God. They might “assume” that God is silent or uncaring. The promises they believed must be wrong since things didn’t work out the way they “believed.” Trying to reconcile a good God to their adverse life situations may turn some to question themselves, wondering if they ever heard God speak into their lives or if some sin or trauma from the past has made them unworthy of mercy.

I mean, if God never changes, then the problem must be ourselves, right? Christians believe that when they become followers they are “new creations.” New creations have to have renewed minds to find new beliefs about God’s goodness and nature in their lives. Renewal is exactly what we need when our assumptions become shattered. Neurologists called this neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to restructure itself through training and practice, thereby creating new neuropathways in the human nervous system. Neuroplasticity, renewed minds, and rebuilt belief systems are about personal growth that is sometimes only possible after trauma.

The reason that believers feel peace after giving their lives to follow the Christian faith is that new neuropathways are being created. Transformation or growth is occurring. From a more secular viewpoint, life has a way of creating maturity in our thinking. The trick is how to not become bitter and negative afterwords.

There is a favorite verse of mine that goes: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  –Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV)” Prayer and meditation increase brain neuroplasticity and makes renewal possible. Allowing our minds to let go of distractions and slow down helps us focus on what we control and let go of what we cannot. In Alcoholics Anonymous, this is the path to serenity.

After a shattering event, people are able to discover strength they didn’t know that had in them. They also find new purposes and seek out deeper connections than before. Faith also grows in people after difficulty. They start to see deeper meaning and value in their life. This is called Post-Traumatic Growth in contrast to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Would you like assistance recovering from a shattering event or trauma? Need new tools for your organization or group? Contact Ron Huxley today!

Do you have burnout? Learn the signs and symptoms!

Are You Burned Out?

Burnout feels just like it sounds. You are exhausted and tired more days than not. You can’t get motivated or interested in doing what you usually enjoy and start to withdraw from your family, friends, and work.

Burnout is a common problem for modern families

Burnout is something that you likely have experienced or will at some point. It is common to feel burnt out. It is “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.”

Take this simple quiz * to see if you are suffering burnout: 

  1. I feel run down and drained of physical or emotional energy.
  2. I have negative thoughts about my job.
  3. I am harder and less sympathetic with people than perhaps they deserve.
  4. I am easily irritated by minor problems or my co-workers and team.
  5. I feel misunderstood or unappreciated by my co-workers.
  6. I feel that I have no one to talk to.
  7. I feel that I am achieving less than I should.
  8. I feel under an unpleasant level of pressure to succeed.
  9. I am not getting what I want out of my job.
  10. I feel that I am in the wrong organization or the wrong profession.
  11. I am frustrated with parts of my career.
  12. I feel that organizational politics or bureaucracy hinder my ability to do a good job.
  13. I feel that there is more work to do than I practically can do.
  14. I do not have time to do many of the essential things to do a good quality job.
  15. I do not have time to plan as much as I would like to.

Count the number of times you said “yes” to these questions. The more times, the greater the chance you are experiencing burnout. Now, let’s look more closely at the signs and symptoms.

Physical Signs

Physical signs to look out for are “Feeling tired and drained all the time, frequent illnesses, headaches, or muscle pain, and change in appetite, sleep, or habits.” 

Maybe you are usually a person who rarely gets sick, but recently, you constantly feel run down or ill. When burnt out, your body has low energy, and you don’t feel 100%. Perhaps you complain that you are tired all the time!

This can make it hard for your body to fight off illnesses and keep you healthy. Changes in everyday healthy habits or appetite can be a good indicator of burnout. Keep an eye out for a change that might indicate an underlying problem. 

Emotional Symptoms

Some of the emotional symptoms are “Sense of failure, feeling helpless, detachment, loss of motivations, increasingly cynical, and decreased sense of accomplishment.” Even though you are feeling your emotions constantly, it can be hard to recognize when changes occur. 

You might not notice as you slip into a more negative state of mind or as you start to detach from the world. The best way to catch these changes is to involve the people around you. Make sure that you are talking with your close friends and family. 

They will likely notice emotional changes in you before you catch them in yourself. If you start to feel or notice the difference, check in with them and see if they have noticed it as well. They will likely feel relieved that you noticed and want to discuss it with you.

Behavioral Signs Are Also Indicative Of Burnout

A few of those are “Withdrawing from responsibilities, isolating yourself, procrastinating, using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope, taking out your frustrations on others, or skipping work.” 

Behavioral symptoms should be the easiest to notice. You start doing things that aren’t like you. Maybe you take extra-long lunch breaks or begin to leave work early when you were always on time before. 

You could start a new habit of drinking multiple beers or glasses of wine every night. Maybe you stop hanging out with your friends, or you never start on your projects until they need to be finished. While your friends and family might be a little hesitant to tell you about emotional changes they see in you, they are more likely to talk about the behavioral ones. 

This might be them constantly asking when you will come over or picking on you for avoiding them. They may not notice an underlying problem, but they will most likely see the change in your everyday behavior.

Final Thoughts

Overall, many of these symptoms could mean other things or point to other illnesses and problems. Make sure to always stay in tune with your body to help determine what the signs are pointing towards. 

Be sure to listen to the people around you when they notice things. They aren’t dealing with burnout, but they will see the changes in you as you deal with it. It can be hard to detect these changes in yourself, but the sooner you do, the sooner you can do something about being burnt out and getting back to your usual self. 

What to do about burnout?

If you resonate with the signs and symptoms in this blog article, get a medical check-up, start implementing a self-care routine, and find a good therapist. You can schedule a time now with Ron Huxley, LMFT, by clicking here. Get more helpful tools and courses to find healing at FamilyHealer.tv

  • Quiz adapted from Mindtools.com

Considering a Life Coach?

Have you ever thought about working with a coach before? If you are serious about achieving your biggest goals, you should seriously consider it. Working with a coach is a great way to boost your results in almost any area of life. Having someone to teach you the ropes, or build more accountability into your life, is a beautiful way to ensure you achieve more. If you wonder if working with a coach could help you, please consider these nine benefits.

2022 Life Coaching on parenting, anxiety, trauma, divorce, reconciliation…
  1. Helps You Define Your Goals
    Many of us have goals, but often they are loosely (or not at all) defined. A coach can help take the hopes and dreams out of your head to create concrete goals. Instead of just wanting something, you start taking tangible steps towards it.
  2. Adds More Accountability to Your Life
    It’s funny, but we have a much easier time letting ourselves down than we do letting others down. Having a coach means one more person in your life you don’t want to let down. You will feel more accountable and be more likely to achieve your goals when you know someone will ask you about your progress.
  3. Encourages You to Define Your Values
    Do you know what you stand for? Maybe a better question is, do you know your core values? Regardless of the question, if you struggle with the answer, a coach can help you. A coach can’t tell you your values, but they can ask you questions that will help you define them yourself.
  4. Helps You See Yourself More Clearly
    A good coach will help you become more self-aware. This self-awareness will allow you to be more honest with yourself. You will know what you are good at and what you aren’t so good at doing. Self-awareness will enable you to double down on your strengths while figuring out how to deal with your weaknesses.
  5. Assists Skill Building and Development
    The most obvious benefit of a coach is their ability to help us build specific skills. For example, if you are interested in becoming a better business person, it makes sense to work with a business coach who has been there and done that. You get to learn from both their experiences and their mistakes.
  6. Offers a Safe Space to Talk About Sensitive Issues
    Whether you find the current world too sensitive or not, it’s a fact that we need to watch the things we say. Having a coach gives you a safe space to talk about more sensitive issues. This doesn’t mean you have a place to barf out all your emotions, but you can at least vent a bit more freely.
  7. Encourages You To Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
    The comfort zone got its name from being comfortable. Once you are in it, you don’t want to get out. A good coach will coax and challenge you to step out of it. Stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while will make it easier to create positive change in your life.
  8. Offers a Different Viewpoint
    When you have a coach, you have someone else to bounce ideas off. It is so easy to get caught up in your tunnel vision that you might not even consider differing opinions. A coach forces you to consider different viewpoints and opinions. It will help you become a more well-rounded individual.
  9. Helps You Make Tough Decisions
    Sometimes it feels like life is nothing but a series of difficult decisions. While this isn’t always true, it has a basis in reality. How much would you like to have someone else talk to about these decisions? A good coach provides that kind of assistance.

Coaching Action Steps:

  1. Take some time to think about different areas of your life that could use a boost. Write these down in a list.
  2. Carefully consider the list from the last step to figure out if a coach, mentor, or teacher could help you in any of these areas.
  3. Choose the area of your life that could most use a coach, and start researching coaching options. If you find a fit right for you, take a chance and reach out.

Let Ron Huxley coach you on parenting, anxiety, and trauma-informed care. With 30 years of experience, Ron can guide you to a more stable, productive life…Click here now to schedule an appointment.

The NEGATIVE impact of the pandemic on our mental health!

The following is from a recent study on the effects of the pandemic on our mental health, substance use, and suicidality. It is safe to say that those of us who were already experience challenges before the pandemic have seen an increase in our struggles.

Even if we never had issues with mental health or substance use, the pandemic caused us to feel depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Data show COVID’s impact on nation’s mental health, substance use…

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released findings from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The data suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the nation’s well-being. Americans responding to the NSDUH survey reported that the coronavirus outbreak adversely impacted their mental health, including by exacerbating use of alcohol or drugs among people who had used drugs in the past year.

Several changes to the 2020 NSDUH prevent its findings from being directly comparable to recent past-year surveys, as explained below.

Based on data collected nationally from October to December 2020, it is estimated that 25.9 million past-year users of alcohol and 10.9 million past-year users of drugs other than alcohol reported they were using these substances “a little more or much more” than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began. During that same time period, youths ages 12 to 17 who had a past-year major depressive episode (MDE) reported they were more likely than those without a past-year MDE to feel that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected their mental health “quite a bit or a lot.” Adults 18 or older who had any mental illness (AMI) or serious mental illness (SMI) in the past year were more likely than adults without mental illness to report that the pandemic negatively affected their mental health “quite a bit or a lot.”

The 2020 data also estimate that 4.9 percent of adults aged 18 or older had serious thoughts of suicide, 1.3 percent made a suicide plan, and 0.5 percent attempted suicide in the past year. These findings vary by race and ethnicity, with people of mixed ethnicity reporting higher rates of serious thoughts of suicide. Among people of mixed ethnicity 18 or older, 11 percent had serious thoughts of suicide, 3.3 percent made a suicide plan and 1.2 percent attempted suicide in the past year. Among Whites 18 or older, 5.3 percent had serious thoughts of suicide, 1.4 percent made a suicide plan, and 0.5 percent attempted suicide in the past year. Among Hispanics or Latinos 18 or older, 4.2 percent had serious thoughts of suicide, 1.2 percent made a suicide plan and 0.6 percent attempted suicide in the past year. Among adolescents 12 to 17, 12 percent had serious thoughts of suicide, 5.3 percent made a suicide plan, and 2.5 percent attempted suicide in the past year.

“SAMHSA’s annual NSDUH provides helpful data on the extent of substance use and mental health issues in the United States,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., who leads SAMHSA. “These data help to guide our policy directions in addressing such priorities as addiction, suicide prevention, and the intersection of substance use and mental health issues.”

Read more on this study: CLICK HERE

Releasing Regrets

“Long ago I wished to leave

‘The house where I was born;’

Long ago I used to grieve,

My home seemed so forlorn.

In other years, its silent rooms

Were filled with haunting fears;

Now, their very memory comes

O’ercharged with tender tears…”

A Poem by charlotte bronte

Regret is looking back at our past with distress and sorrowful longing. We grieve over past actions done to us or that we did to others. We WISH it didn’t happen or that we could do it over again. Of course, we can’t, but regret keeps us stuck in the past filled with pain. 

Letting go is the process of getting unstuck and moving on in life. How we metabolize pain, in this process, is different for every person and every situation. However, you can give various forms of releasing regret a try and learn about yourself in the process.

Practice Daily Gratitude

Practicing daily gratitude is a great way to remind yourself of all that you have consistently. Family, friends, a home, food to eat, maybe even a cute puppy to come home to. Whatever your gratitude is toward, reminding yourself of it is a great way to reflect on the good in your life and make the regrets seem less important in the grand scheme of life. 

A practical application of gratitude is to use a scientifically studied exercise called 5-3-1. Every morning spend 5 minutes quieting your mind and getting grounded, write 3 things you are grateful for and do one act of kindness for someone else. 

Trust the Journey

Reminding yourself that even the adverse events in life are part of a more significant journey allows you to see the larger picture. Yes, you regret this one mistake. But, did that one mistake lead you down a different path that had good outcomes? Everything happens for a reason. Trust that in time you will find out why that mistake or loss occurred.

Having an optimistic viewpoint, however ridiculous it might seem at the moment, is helpful to unlock your thoughts and allow hope to enter them. 

Learn to Release Emotions

Emotions in the grand scheme of life (once again; are you seeing the bigger picture yet?) are fleeting. Learning to release your feelings when they are not serving you will aid you now and in the future. Stop beating yourself up for something that happened in the past and learn to move on with a clear mind and focus.

Give voice to your feelings with a good friend or therapist. Learn to journal daily. Stop being afraid of your own feelings states and allow your nervous system to regulate. 

Accept the Lesson Learned

Situations or actions we regret typically offer us a lesson—if we are open to learning it. Accept that you learned a lesson and move on with it. Living through a challenging event means nothing if you don’t continue living and implement what you learned into your future life.

Nelson Mandala is famous for saying: “I never fail. I either win, or I learn.” Keeping this perspective will guard the tender-hearted. 

“What If-ing” the past Doesn’t Change the Future.

You are living in the land of “what ifs” is tempting. However, “what ifs” literally mean nothing in the practice of daily life. You can spend hours or even days guessing at a different outcome, but it doesn’t matter. Those what-ifs will never directly impact your future other than to steal from it. 

Living in the past traumatizes your present all over again. A vicious cycle continues to whirl, adding shame and fear to your life. Staying focused on the now allows you to live healthy again. 

Try this simple present-focused tool called “seeing red.” When you start to slip down the slope or regret, look for something red and focus on its shade, texture, smell, etc. Look for another red object and do the same. Repeat this until you feel more settled in the now. 

If you would like Ron Huxley to help you overcome regret and move past old pain and trauma, contact him today or schedule a session by clicking here. 

What to do about professional burnout?

It has been said that professional social workers, therapists, and front-line workers suffer from burnout 5 times more than other professionals. Perhaps everyone has experience has some form of anxiety or stress in the last couple of years. Burnout is a real, damaging condition with several emotional symptoms.

Image result for signs of burnout


The signs and symptoms of burnout

The emotional signs of burnout might include:

  • Sense of failure and self-doubt.
  • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated.
  • Detachment, feeling alone in the world.
  • Loss of motivation.
  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook.
  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.

Helping professionals often get their sense of identity from seeing others improve and get healthy and well. Emotionally, burnout can change helpers attitudes so they now resent or judge the people they are helping. There are many examples of long-term health or human service professionals who are just going through the motions. They are frequently irritable and grouchy, complaining about the people they are serving. They do the least amount of work possible and may even mistreat colleagues and clients.

The physical symptoms of burnout also include headaches and stomachaches. Burnout people tend don’t take as good care of themselves, eating poorly, drinking too much, and don’t exercise. Consequently, they are more likely to experience obesity and heart disease. Chronic stress will result in sleep disorders, anxiety attacks, and clinical depression.

Once you find yourself suffering from burnout, it can be difficult to turn your life around. Your best choice is to prevent burnout as soon as you see the warning signs. Here are a few helpful tips to avoid burnout. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Set Boundaries

No matter what your profession may be, it’s important to have boundaries. You can’t be available around the clock; this is simply impossible. So, to prevent burnout, it’s critical to establish boundaries of times you will not be available. This means that you won’t be in the office or available by phone or email during these times. If you are in a management position, it might help to post these hours somewhere or adjust your email auto-reply, so people know you will answer as soon as you are available.  

Helpers help, right? We are rewarded for high we perform. We get praise for productivity. We start to believe that we are our work and cannot say no. This is a common but damaging mental state.

Have A Work-Life Balance

Besides just setting boundaries, you need to have time to do things that aren’t workplace-related. This means you have time for your hobbies, your family, and just doing what you love. This doesn’t have to be complicated, and it could be as simple as taking one afternoon a week to go for a walk in your favorite park. Whatever it may be, it needs to be something you want to do, and you need to put your foot down if work ever tries to interfere with your time.

It is no wonder that burnout destroys marriages. If you give your all to work, you have nothing left to give your partner or children. The world reinforces you for putting work first but this isn’t the correct order for physical and mental health. Some countries give more allowance for family leave, paid vacations, and publicly reward putting self and relationships over the job. These countries do not see a lower level of productivity. In fact, they have a higher employee retention and less costly turnover.

Photo by Sarah Chai on Pexels.com

Create a Social Circle

We are social creatures. Our brains and nervous systems are designed to function optimally when we are in healthy relationships with others. This is true for extroverts as well as introverts. Social circles include having loving, trusting family and friends. It isn’t about the number of friends in your life. It is about the quality of those friendships. You can visualize a social circle like a target, with you in the middle, and concentric circles surrounding you. The smaller, closer circles will have people who are more intimate and highly trusted. Those in the outer circles are important for various areas of your life but are not part of the inner circle. The more people in the various circles, the more buffer you have to stress. The less number or quality of people, the more likely that stress will enter and negatively affect you.

Research demonstrates that even one trusted person can dramatically decrease the negative effects of stress and so, lessen the likelihood of burnout.

The 3 R’s of Burnout Recovery

Sometimes you can’t avoid burnout and have to find healthy ways to cope. Try using the 3 R’s:

  1. Recognize.
  2. Reprioritize.
  3. Redesign.
5 Finger Check In

Using the signs listed above, stop and check in periodically on how you are doing physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally, and spiritually. We call this the five finger check in. Do this with your partner or co-workers on a regular basis. Be honest. Shame likes to hide issues in darkness. Expose them so you can treat them.

If there are any signs of burnout in your life, make some changes as soon as possible. Reprioritizing your schedule, responsibilities, and relationships. Anything that is causing an inner drain should be seriously addressed.

Redesign your life. It is never too late to change your work or how you work. Many people, over the course of the last year, have started working remotely instead of going into an office. This has dramatically improved peoples mental as well as physical health. If you don’t have many people in your social circles, start by reaching out to a professional or take a risk by joining a club or group. Make sure you have a health balance of fun in your life. Take that vacation, turn off the screens, eat a good meal. Little efforts can result in big changes in your life.

If you are needing more help with stress or trauma, try the convenient courses at FamilyHealer.tv

Feeling Hurt, Stuck, Shame?

When you have experienced trauma, anything can cause emotional pain: a word, glance, or reaction. We have all experienced this in life but it can be more intense and overwhelming for people who have been traumatized.

This hurt causes an inner wound that alters how we process information from people and the world around us. In the field of Attachment Research, John Bowlby, the father of Attachment Theory, states that our experiences in life become an “Internal Working Model.”

The model is “internal” because it is in the thoughts, emotions, and memories. It is “working” because, while profound and resistant to change, it can change through new life experiences that result in further “models” of the self, others, and the world.

Sometimes new experiences hit blockages in our minds. Our minds are habit machines that like familiarity, even if it is unhealthy or chaotic. The mind equates familiar with safe!

We can become aware that we are in the way of our healing, stuck to know how to move past our own blocking beliefs or models of how life is…we want to trust others but just can’t. We want to love ourselves more and engage in self-care, but we continue to stay busy and put ourselves down. We need to set boundaries in relationships but continue to say yes when we should say no.

To facilitate healing in our lives, we have to remove the blocking beliefs. Several healing practices let go or release blocking beliefs. Examples include EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping), and Forgiveness Work are evidence-based practices designed to help people work through anxiety, trauma, and stuck emotions.

Ron Huxley, a trauma trainer and therapist uses three healing strategies to help people form new Internal Working Models and get “unstuck.” The first healing strategy is to calm down the brain and nervous system. This strategy allows the autonomic nervous system to balance the parasympathetic (rest and digest) and sympathetic (energizing stress) systems. There is a time for both, but most of us overuse the sympathetic system in our modern stressed-ruled society. Our bodies and minds are not designed for long-term stress responses. It will break down the immune system, create dissociative thinking, and dysregulate emotional circuits. The results on relationships can be devastating.

The second healing strategy is to build new skills and competencies. Couples in conflict want to learn communication skills to improve their relationship. Although essential, if they have not worked on the first healing strategy and created a safe space for themselves and their partner, new skills won’t make a lasting difference.

Once a sense of safety is created, new skills that enhance the brain’s executive functioning come forward. Executive functioning skills include self-control, impulse control, sense of self, reading social cues, planning, organization, follow-through, focused attention, and time management. Often, security is all relationships need to see self, others, and the world differently. The skills might already be in place but weren’t expressed due to overriding survival needs.

The third healing strategy is deepening relationships. Once security is in place and new skills practices, we have to sustain this progress. We can rest on the fact that we have made a shift in our internal working model. We have to live it and face new challenges that might require new elements of the model. Old blocking beliefs might pop up, or triggers threaten to return us to old patterns of behavior. All three strategies may have to be revisited to stay unstuck and live in emotional freedom.

Get more tools for healing at FamilyHealer.tv or sign up for a session with Ron Huxley today.

Healing PTSD: New Course at FamilyHealer.TV

Ron Huxley is proud to share a new course in our online family healer school at http://familyhealer.tv or go directly to the new PTSD course at http://ronhuxley.thinkific.com/courses/healing-ptsd

The new paradigms for PTSD that you will learn include:

Understanding PTSD, the Road to Resilience, Tools for Building Resiliency, Healing the Hurt, How’s Your Heart exercise, Trauma and the Sensory System, Dealing with Dissociation, Grounding Tools, Building Your Family Stress Toolbox, Healing Affirmations for PTSD, Learning Your ACE Score, Post-Traumatic GROWTH Inventory, Trauma and Your Family, Coping Strategies for Coping with COVID.

Take this course at your own convenience, receive a certificate of completion, and find healing from your traumatic stress today at http://ronhuxley.thinkific.com/courses/healing-ptsd