Our Own Worst Enemy – Self-talk

We are our own worst enemy.  Do you believe that?  After years of studying human development, psychology, working as a therapist & doing my own personal work I’ve come to believe this as truth.  We tend to save our worst, most hateful words for ourselves, not our enemies and then we wonder why we are stressed, anxious, depressed & isolated.

Think about it…whose voice do you hear in your ear when you make a mistake at work, “screwing up again”?  Who is it that beats you up when you don’t like what you see in the mirror “you’ve got to lose weight & stop being lazy”?  What do you say to yourself when you’re not able to live up to the impossible standards you’ve set for yourself “I really should get it together”?  The words we use within our own minds, our self-talk, matters a great deal more than we give it credit.  Our words have meaning. Continue reading

Andrew Solomon: Depression, The Secret We Share

“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.”

This is a moving and brilliant conversation about depression and it’s effects on the human spirit.  It’s is an illness, like any other, that impacts all areas of one’s life and ability to function.  It’s not merely just sadness or a bad day but an unrelenting dark cloud that drains away one’s ability to engage fully in their life.  Let’s work together to remove the stigma that prevents so many from asking for help!

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“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality”

If you think you or someone you know may be struggling with depression, please know you are not alone and we want to help!  Check out our Depression Test to see if you or your loved one may be struggling with symptoms of depression.

Setting Goals, Sex & Living to 100-Interesting Articles from the Interwebs

For You – 

Most of us know that goal setting is essential to achievements and healthy living.  But goal setting is not always so easy or so black and white.  This article, 4 Ugly Facts About Setting Goals, is a great read on some of the challenges one will likely face when goal setting.  “Enter your goal-setting process with these evils in mind and you’ll knock ‘em dead.”

For Your Relationships – 

Can you be happily married and be in a sexless marriage? This is the question up for discussion in Psychology Today’s article, Can Couple’s Be Sexless & Happy?  One researcher  named in the article identifies 2 primary reasons for sex to disappear in marriage, childbirth and extra-marital affairs.  In our experience there are other reasons as well but that’s another post for another day.  This article also looks at options available to couples that find themselves in a sexless marriage.  If this is you and your spouse, you are not alone and we’d love to help you explore those areas that interfere with healthy living and a healthy sex life.  You can also find helpful tips on our series – Creating & Maintaining Intimacy

For Your Health – 

Eating a high fiber breakfast can help you live to 100

Want to live to 100?  A U.S. News Health article says if you incorporate these 11 healthy living tips, you just might live for a whole century.  “Researchers have discovered that centenarians tend to share certain traits in how they eat, move about, and deal with stress—the sorts of things we can emulate to improve our own aging process.”  As expected appropriate amounts of sleep and exercise as well as healthy diet recommendations are on the list.  But there are other more surprising factors too such as staying connected to friends and family, being conscientious, being less neurotic & never retiring.  Check it out to find out what you can do to live to 100!


Living A Masquerade – Hiding Your True Self


Michael & I dressed as scarecrows last year

Here is a blog I wrote for Polish: Refining the Details, a summary of my presentation on living a Masquerade…

Growing up I always loved Halloween, I loved scary movies, haunted houses, trick or treating and especially dressing up. I would agonize over my costume every year wanting to have a great one. I still love Halloween and dressing up to go to a costume or masquerade party. There is something very liberating about hiding your true self & pretending to be someone else, rather than who you or who others believe you “should be”.
One mask-maker in California, Carla Almanza-de Quant says “Once you put on a mask you’re cheerful, you’re playful, you’re a more wonderful you,” she says “You become a fantasy character and you interact with others in a more outgoing way.”

What does that look like on a daily basis? What’s the mask or masks you wear when you are hiding your true self from others? Continue reading

Shame – A Brene Brown TED Talk

Shame is powerful player in our mental health and well being.  In this video, Brene Brown talks about how “vulnerability is not weakness” and how shame only holds us back.  It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be genuine and vulnerable. Continue reading

Vulnerability & Courage

Meet Jennifer!

Everyone, meet Jennifer.  She is a Licensed Professional Counseling Intern and the newest member of Ashenfelter & Associates.  We are so delighted to be working with her.  Read more about her on our website and enjoy her first blog on Courage and Vulnerability.

I recently attended a conference where I was given the opportunity to  hear Dr. Berne Brown speak on the topic of courage.  Dr. Brown is a  researcher who has focused the last ten years of her work on studying  vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.  You can learn more about her work here: http://www.brenebrown.com/about/

One of the things that Dr. Brown said in her talk is this: “There is nothing more courageous than showing up and being seen.”

Vulnerability is a challenging thing. On one hand it is something we all long for,  the feeling of being fully known in all of our messiness and beauty, and being accepted fully in that moment.  On the other hand with everything in us we desire to protect ourselves from potential rejection so we wake up each  day, drink our coffee, get dressed, and do our very best to keep people  at an arm’s length from us.  Heaven forbid we allow anyone to see the  hurts, the struggles, the fears.  No, we want them to see the joys and  successes, but not anything that might make them think less of us.

Unfortunately, life is messy.  There is no person alive who has not experienced some  bumps, bruises, and even scars along the way.  But, I believe that it is in the mess that we find true beauty!  Think of the little boy with chocolate all over his face, it tells the story of a delicious ice cream cone.  Think of the  cancer patient without hair, her bald head represents a fighter.  Think  of the cracked window on the front of the house, it represents a  baseball game between brothers.  You see, life doesn’t always look the  way we expect, it isn’t always neat and clean, things happen, pain comes and pain goes, and sometimes  the pain sticks, the wounds are deep, the scabs keep getting ripped off, the cracks get bigger – it is in those areas of our lives where we  often need additional support.  It is there that we need to find the  courage to sit down, be honest, and allow ourselves the freedom to be  vulnerable.

Finding a place where you are fully  accepted and able to address some of those hurts and struggles can be  scary.  It is our desire as counselors to provide that place for you.  A safe place where vulnerability can be experienced and in the process  you can be refreshed.  This takes courage though.  It is scary, there is no doubt about it, but in allowing ourselves to show up and be seen we find freedom.

If you, or someone you know, is currently struggling and in need of  support we hope that you will call us. We would love the  opportunity to sit down with you and talk through the struggles you are experiencing and help you to begin your healing journey.