Every person is wired to attach to their primary caregivers. This process called attachment begins at birth and continues on throughout the lifespan. As people move throughout their lives, they may encounter many distressing relational events, which can cause attachment ruptures. Relational struggles come in many forms; the bond between a child and its mother have the most significant effects on the long-term sense of safety and strength that an individual holds throughout his or her life. When our primary attachment figures fail us, we often lose hope and develop anxious traits that define how we interact with others and the world we live in. Additionally, even when we have healthy attachments to our parents or primary caregivers, we are still oftentimes left wanting, desiring more than they could give us. This is where God demonstrates his nurturing characteristics and offers his creation a way to find restoration through a personal relationship. When we know God, we learn that he is the safe base and safe haven that we have been seeking. Attaching to God gives us hope and a sense that we are protected despite all of the painful realities we face every day.
Throughout this writing, you will encounter the works of several major researchers, both psychological and biological (i.e., John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, Francis Collins). Each of these researchers has made major contributions to their respective field of study. With their collective research, it has become possible to begin formulating an integrative theory where spirituality and science can come together and offer humanity a broader sense of what it means to be created by a relational and boundless God. Through this writing, my hope is to reach those standing in opposition to the blending of these two categories (i.e., science and spirituality). By doing so, I hope that many are brought to a place where they can begin healing through finding a healthy attachment to the God that can heal and alter the human experience.
To purchase my newly published ebook titled "God As Humanity's Ultimate Attachment Figure" please visit:
Consider this...you sitting in the waiting room of your new counselor's office, awaiting your turn to share your story with this therapist who will attend to your every thought and emotion. You begin sharing about your current struggles only to discover the therapist you've chosen cannot relate to your situation. You begin to feel unsure of yourself, rethinking your choice to seek counseling. Next, you begin wondering if counseling is the answer for the spiritual issues you're seeking guidance with. Who do you seek out for this type of advice/wisdom? Are only Christian counselors or pastors viable options for managing spiritually driven issues? I don't believe so, which I will further outline below.
My first thought about this matter is why is there such a divide between spirituality and therapy? Who decided to let spirituality fall by the wayside? The majority of our society, at one point, depended on religions to maintain social stability. Therefore, dismissing the integral nature of spirituality/religion is indeed damaging to individuals and our communities. This is due to spirituality's historical depth and foundational function within human survival and existence. To those that believe spirituality is useless or fake at best, you should reconsider how spirituality has tremendously positive effects on those who practice it.
This post is in no way intended to promote a specific form of spirituality/religion, but rather, my intention is to remind us how spirituality plays a pivotal role in developing individuals and groups. Spirituality offers hope, meaning, and purpose, which increases motivation and positive feelings in people. Clinicians must take the time to gain a full-orbed understanding of a variety of spiritual/religious practices in order to avoid dismissing essential underlying information about their clients' spiritual history. Without this history, clinicians will potentially miss valid reasons for their clients' current pathology, lack of motivation, etc. Furthermore, therapists may make fundamental mistakes when they are unaware of their own biases about spirituality/religion. Therefore, it is imperative for clinicians to be self-aware of their spirituality/religious nature in order to more effectively support their clients. Ultimately, we should reconsider our views on spirituality and religion and determine how and why they should fit within our personal and social framework.
How many of us truly know the struggle behind bipolar disorder? Do you know there are several types of bipolar disorder? These types include bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder, mixed bipolar, and rapid-cycling bipolar. Each of these forms of bipolar disorder present with varying degrees of depression and mania (either hypomania as with bipolar II or manic episodes varying in severity). As an individual without these forms of bipolar disorder it is easy to made misinformed judgments about those suffering from the disorder. These judgments can and will cause further environmental disturbances for those trying to manage their daily lives under the anguish of bipolar or other mood disorders. It is essential for us to understand bipolar as an issue with the brain; an issue that causes troubling chemical imbalances. Seeing it as such will enable us to separate the individual from the disorder and hopefully allow us to see the person as a sum of all parts, not simply their disorder. The next time you encounter someone behaving strangely in public, ask yourself, "Is this person struggling on an unseen level?" Then ask yourself, "Is it worth judging my fellow man simply because he or she is exhibiting behaviors other than what I am used to?" This will certainly support us with growing in empathy for our human counterparts. It will also allow us to build the self-awareness to measure if we are being fair in our judgments of others. Remember, people that demonstrate various behaviors indicative of mental illness have not asked for the maladies they have received. Therefore, we should be supportive and loving towards them as we continue attempting to survive this difficult life together, treating one another with the dignity we all deserve.
So often I hear others making comments about the insignificance of their words. There has been this tendency to flex our first amendment right to freedom of speech, but without restraint or concern for the well-being of ourselves and others. What is widely misunderstood is that the more a person makes a specific set of statements, whether consciously or unconsciously, the more reinforced those patterns of thought will become. Many times we ignore or are unaware of how these factors influence our beliefs and behaviors. What is not being spoken enough is that there can be tragic consequences when a person does not demonstrate self-control over their thoughts and outward expression via speech. Controlling one's thoughts takes a large amount of discipline and understanding. Taking the time to contemplate your thoughts daily through self-reflection is essential for becoming more self-aware. Furthermore, taking the time to reflect with a trusted loved one or professional counselor allows for contrast to be established in one's thinking, which might in turn allow for a person to develop a less self-focused perspective. Self-reflection can be an incredibly strenuous task, but has positive long-term effects over a lifespan. Please take the time to check out this informative article about the influential nature of self-talk.
Today, when waking up, I thought about how I could most effectively reach a population of discriminating readers. Like most of you who spend time reading the blogs of others, I desire to read something fresh and inspiring. Attempting to figure out what approach and topics will elicit that type of response is the difficult piece. As a licensed professional counselor and certified psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner, I will be focusing primarily on issues of mental health. When I'm not focused on issues of mental health, I will likely be focusing on general lifestyle and health issues. I am convinced that people are in need of an increased awareness regarding these issues, which is why I've chosen to begin this blog. I hope as a reader you find it encouraging as well as informative. Please feel free to leave a comment to encourage further discussion of the topics I'll be addressing. Thank you for taking the time to think with me about the difficulties surrounding mental health and life in general. To begin this discussion on mental health, here is a link to an article on bi-polar disorder I found to be helpful.
When reading this article, think about the people you know and attempt to determine if you know anyone struggling with these types of symptoms. Consider how understanding these types of mental conditions can positively contribute to the health and wellness of those battling these symptoms on a daily basis. The next time you encounter someone struggling with a mental illness, remind yourself of the information you've learned from this article. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes is difficult, but a sure way to reduce judgement and increase your love for others struggling in different ways than yourself.