6 Steps Adoptive Parents Need to Learn

When you adopt a child, it’s not uncommon to find yourself parenting a child who has been traumatized. The emotional regulation skills that all children learn in their early years were probably not developed as well as they could have been in the child’s pre-adoption life, and now you’re facing the task of helping your child learn how to manage their emotions.

It’s not always easy, but some strategies can help make this process easier. Here are some tips for dealing with emotionally dysregulated children who were adopted:

1.) Learn about trauma and its effects on developing minds and bodies.

2.) Learn about emotional regulation and how it develops in children.

3.) Identify what emotional regulation looks like for your child—what do they do when they get upset? How do they express anger? Frustration? Sadness? Joy? What helps them calm down when they get upset? What makes them get upset or escalate into inappropriate behaviors? And most importantly: what doesn’t work when they feel overwhelmed by intense emotions?

4.) Since every child is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Learn brain-based parenting skills and methods.

5) Identity the attachment styles for each family member and discover techniques that create greater security.

6) Take care of yourself. Self-care is not a luxury. It is necessary to be more patient and resilient with your dysregulated child.

Take a free course on Trauma-Informed Care in the home, school, and community at TraumaToolbox.com.

If you need specialized help, contact Ron Huxley today by clicking here and scheduling an appointment.

20 Ways to Forgive – Infographic

How to invite forgiveness to bless your life…

Forgiveness is both a decision and a process. Choose one of the ways listed in this infographic to implement in your life for one week. Assess how it has blessed you and then try a new way until you feel the weight of hurt and bitterness lessen.

Forgiveness: Another Way to Eliminate Negativity

When people treat you wrong, it is very easy to hold a grudge. You may not understand how it could be possible to forgive someone for a slight, especially if the action was especially hurtful. Maybe you think forgiveness is about the other person and somehow,they benefit from you forgiving them. Forgiveness is not about the other person; it is about you. 

Forgiving another person does not always mean they stay in your life. Sometimes you do not even let them know you are forgiving them. You do not even need to trust them again. Just forgive them to eliminate the negativity in your life. 

 

Even horrific crimes can be forgiven. For safety reasons, you may want to use an indirect way of forgiving them instead of contacting them directly. Write a letter as if you plan on sending it to the other person. Talk about how what they did made you feel, and about how it made you think about yourself. Write about how you are no longer going to allow them space in your head and how you forgive them for what they did to you. 

 

When you finish writing, seal up the letter in an envelope and put their name on the front. Then either throw it away (shred it first!) or burn the letter. It does not have to actually be read by the person you are forgiving, this exercise is to help you get past the negativity and the chains that are holding you back as a person. 

 

If you find you can’t forgive on your own, you may want to talk with a professional. Therapy can really help you get past this hurdle. Especially if the person committed a serious crime. If you have been abused, particularly over a long period of time, you may need therapy to help you get past what was done to you. There is nothing wrong with seeking help. 

 

Once you have forgiven the other person, you will feel like a weight has been lifted, or chains have been removed. Grudges are not healthy for you and they do not affect the other person. When you bottle up negative feelings, you can increase your risks of developing heart disease, and other health conditions. You tend to age faster as well. Not forgiving others can dim your overall outlook on life, so why put yourself through all of that? 

 

Remember that forgiveness is not about the other person, it is about eliminating the negativity in your own life. So free yourself today by forgiving others for the wrongs they have done to you.

5 Ways to Boost Your Mental Health

Scientists tell us there are certain things we can do to improve our mental wellbeing. These techniques will help you feel more positive about yourself.

They teach you how to ride the lows and wait out the lows. Once you know that, nothing can stop you from getting what you want out of life.

Today, we’re going to share with you five ways to boost your mental health. Keep reading for more.

1. Connect With Others

Good relationships don’t need years to build. They can form in a matter of months, or weeks even. Plus, they don’t have to be an all-in, best-friends-for-life type of relationship.

Just talking to a neighbor or members of your church can have a great impact on your mental health. You learn to listen, empathize, and build a strong sense of self-worth and value.

Have you and a friend not seen each other in a while? Then, reach out and try to arrange a coffee date so you can get together and catch up.

How about your children or other family members? Why not try to set an hour during the day where you talk or play games?

We all know how social media has become an important part of our lives. And it’s made it easier to stay in touch with important people in our lives, especially if they live far away.

It’s good to text and chat on a regular basis. Just make sure technology isn’t replacing your face-to-face communications with people.

2. Learn New Skills

Learning a new skill or hobby can have a significant boost on your mental health. It’s an excellent way to meet new people and improve your self-esteem.

It’s nice to have a sense of purpose, other than your work. It gives you something to look forward to each day.

The problem, however, is many people complain they don’t have enough hours in the day. Luckily, though, technology has made learning more accessible.

Here are some of the ways you can use those high-tech gadgets you have to good use:

• Sign up for an online course, like learning a new language or a practical skill like programming

• Look for free video tutorials online to help you out with a DIY project

• If you enjoy cooking, find healthy recipes and learn how to make them

• Try a new hobby that challenges and entertains you, like painting, writing, or gardening

• Learn to play a new sport or physical activity

3. Pay More Attention

We’re all guilty of not paying attention to people and things going on around us. We’re always busy with work or scrolling through our social media feed.

Learning to focus all your senses on the present moment can improve your mental well-being. It also boosts your mood and lowers stress levels. Experts call this type of focus ‘mindfulness’.

When you practice mindfulness, you enjoy the little things in life. Things like watching a bird soar overhead or taking in the nuances of nature are just two small examples.

When you’re in tune with the small details, you feel more relaxed and at peace. Plus, you start to get a better understanding of what makes you happy or anxious, which is a healthy way to approach life’s challenges.

4. Get Physically Active

When you do any type of physical activity, you boost your physical fitness, as well as your mental wellness. It could be a short 15-minute walk, an hour of cycling each week, or 30 minutes at the gym. You pick the activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good.

Then, once you start noticing the difference, you start to feel good about your looks. That’s when your confidence will soar through the roof.

In addition, your brain signals the nervous central system to release ‘feel-good’ hormones known as endorphins. These wonder chemicals trigger a positive response, which boosts your mood. They also reduce feelings of pain and anxiety.

Check out the following tips on how to get moving to boost your mental health:

• Look online for free activities catered to your fitness level

• Find local centers where you can dance, swim, or cycle

• Try running with a ‘couch to 5K’ app or podcast

• If you have a chronic health condition or a disability, there are many exercise’s and physical activities that can be customized to meet your needs

5. Give to Others

According to research, acts of kindness and giving are great ways to improve your mental well-being. The reason is that when we help others, our brains trigger the release of another ‘feel-good’ hormone called oxytocin.

This chemical promotes feelings of empathy and trust. It also makes us calmer, happier, and more inspired to do more.

Giving to others could be volunteering at a local shelter or helping out someone on a personal level. The point is to offer your time and energy doing something for other people. In return, you’ll feel good about yourself, knowing that you’re valued and appreciated

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!

This is the Year of Letting Go of Resentments

Resentments are defined as the “bitter indignation at being mistreated.” It is a hard feeling that creates discontent, hostility, bitterness, and an inability to trust others.

It is destructive to relationships because it is a hook to the traumatic events of the past. When we are tied to our histories, we cannot fully enjoy the present, and the future feels like a painful rerun. We make vows that we will never let anyone hurt us like we were hurt before. Unfortunately, these vows isolate and insulate us from loving relationships.

Resentment is connected to our ego. Our ego needs to be correct, and it needs to be good. When we experience trauma, it can strip away our dignity, causing us to get needs met in unhealthy ways or won’t allow anyone else to help meet those needs. We believe that “I can do it all by myself” but it feels safer when we are alone. Unfortunately, cutting others out of our lives is a very lonely life.

Resentment can also keep us stuck in a victim role. Victims need abusers to maintain this position. Therefore, our ego will fault others, reinforce the belief that people “can’t be trusted”, and only see the negative in the circumstances. We will gravitate to rescuers to make us feel good and validate our victim-mindedness.

WRITE BRAIN/RIGHT BRAIN:

Write about ways resentment keeps you stuck in the past. What are the struggles you have experienced that make trusting others difficult? Have you chosen to be right over having a relationship? Journal about ways to select connections first. Visualize what the world of your ego looks like, who lives there, and what beliefs you take as truth in your ego world.

How can you imagine a new, different world where you feel safe and secure? How would you do it this time if you could do a situation over? Have a chat with your “ego” and offer it comfort and seek what it needs to care for it healthily?

Explore your resiliency. You didn’t want to go through tough times, but you got through them. What strengths did you discover about yourself? How did this challenging experience change your priorities? Celebrate how you have grown instead of feeding the monster of resentment.

10 Ways To Implement Self-Care In Your Life

Self-care is often overlooked and pushed aside for more important, more pressing commitments. The truth is that self-care should be a priority. Without it, we cannot function at our optimum and therefore different areas of our life may be detrimentally impacted. The modern lifestyle is a busy one, with individuals often rushing between commitments, however, there are still ways you can implement self-care in your life. Here are ten ways you can add self-care to your routine so that you can maintain your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com
  1. Identify what self-care is to you
    We all have different needs and different ways of unwinding. Identify what self-care is the most effective for you. It may be taking a walk and getting outdoors, or curling up by the fire with a good book. It may be surrounding yourself with good friends, taking a bike ride or soaking in a long, hot bath. Whatever it is, learn to define self-care for you as an individual so that you can better take care of yourself.
  2. Establish a routine
    Once you understand what self-care works for you, add it to your routine. Commit to engaging the activity regularly until it becomes a habit, something that is simply a normal part of your life.
  3. Get regular, good quality sleep
    Establish a sleep routine so that you are getting enough high-quality sleep. Sleep is a critical part of maintaining good health and should not be underestimated. By implementing a sleep routine, you can ensure that you are getting enough rest and are therefore optimally prepared to perform at your best.
  4. Eat a balanced diet
    Diet is an important part of self-care and has a significant impact on your health. Make sure to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, avoiding soft drink and processed foods.
  5. Exercise regularly
    Exercise if great for physical, mental and emotional health and should be a part of any self-care routine.
  6. Learn to say no
    The ability to establish boundaries can be important to self-care. Rather than simply saying yes to everything until things become unbearable or seemingly impossible, learn to say no when you are busy or feeling under pressure.
  7. Get organised
    A little organisation can go a long way in regard to your self-care. Implementing strategies to be more organised can really help reduce your stress and improve your mental health.
  8. De-clutter your environment
    Get rid of the rubbish and excess goods in your house; a cleaner, less cluttered space is great for your mental health as it will help to reduce stress levels.
  9. Schedule time to yourself
    It can often feel like we are being pulled in a million different directions. Make sure to schedule time for your self-care and donít allow this to be interrupted.
  10. Take a break
    If things are getting too much, take a break. It might be taking a few days off work, getting a away for the weekend or taking a longer vacation; regardless of the length, sometime simply stepping out of the environment can be great for perspective and self-care.

Schedule training on self for your organization today by contacting Ron Huxley, LMFT at rehuxley@gmail.com

Depression Screening Tool

* If you are experiencing severe depression and feel that you no longer want to live, please call 911 immediately. This tool is not a replacement for depression treatment or psychotherapy. If want to schedule an appointment with Ron Huxley for therapy, please click here!




Depression is a constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest, which stops you from doing your normal activities. Different types of depression exist, with symptoms ranging from relatively minor to severe. Generally, depression does not result from a single event, but from a mix of events and factors.

Depression Screening Tool:

(The following criteria may be noticed by you or observed by others within the same two week period)

Do you feel sad or empty most of the day?
Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points

Have you been lacking interest or pleasure in all, or almost all,
activities most of the day?
Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points

Have you noticed a significant weight loss when not dieting or
weight gain or major change in appetite nearly every day?
Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points

Do you have trouble going to sleep or sleeping too much nearly every day?
Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points

Are you feeling agitated or sluggish nearly every day?
Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points

Do you experience fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day?
Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points

Have you been feeling worthless or experiencing an excessive amount
of guilt nearly every day?
Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points

Are you having trouble thinking, concentrating, or being indecisive, nearly
every day?
Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points

*Need five points minimum to qualify as Major Depressive Disorder. This screen should not be confused with an actual diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. If you feel you are having a problem in this area, please consult with a professional, such as your physician.

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