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Rhett Smith Podcast

Therapist + Writer + Speaker In this long-form interview format Rhett explores the lives of various thought leaders to discover what helped them thrive in multiple areas of their lives, and what lessons we can learn from them. Rhett is particularly interested in the intersection of self-care and relationships, and he loves to explore how one can thrive physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. He interacts with people such as therapists, athletes, spiritual leaders, entrepreneurs and many others, covering a variety of topics from fitness, leadership, mental health, and spirituality. What would your marriage look like when you are thriving? What does your parenting look like when you are thriving? What does your work look like when you are thriving? What does your faith look like when you are thriving? When we thrive in these areas of our lives we become people who are "life-giving." And when we are "life-givers" we impact all the relationships around us in positive ways. So engage the podcast and discover how you can thrive personally and relationally.
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Nov 17, 2016

One of the most common questions I get is about what marriage book I might recommend. That is a tough question in some ways because there are so many books out there, and every person responds to a certain book differently. So it's hard to be too prescriptive on this topic.

But I can tell you there are about 7 books that I recommend a lot, and have been recommending for a long time. And the reason I recommend these books is because they have not only transformed my life and marriage, but they are the books that couples consistently report as being the most helpful and life-transforming for them.

So in this episode I briefly talk about these 7 books. Each book is pretty different from each other. Some are Christian and faith based in their approach, while others don't come with any faith perspective. Some are pretty prescriptive in their approach, listing out steps and tools to use in your marriage, while others take a more philosophical and theological approach, but it's up to the reader to figure out how and if that applies to their marriage. Some talk about sex (one in pretty specific and graphic ways), while others don't even mention it. Some are more academic, while others are an easy read.

So check out these books and see what may most apply and be helpful to you.

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson -- Great read by the founder of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Her seven conversations provide great insight and direction for couples working on their connection.

Restoration Therapy: Understanding and Guiding Healing in Marriage and Family Therapy by Terry D. Hargrave and Franz Pfitzer -- This is perhaps my favorite book on marriage because it is the therapy model founded by my mentor and friend Dr. Hargrave. It's the model that I use in therapy with my clients and what I teach in churches and organizations. More of a technical read for therapists and practitioners, though helpful for couples who do want to dive into the theory. I talk with Dr. Hargrave about his model here, and discuss it's concepts here, here, here, here and here.

5 Days to a New Marriage by Terry D. Hargrave and Shawn Stoever -- this is the book that was written by the developers of the 4-day marriage intensives at The Hideaway Experience where I was on staff for four years. It's a simple, awesome read that walks couples through was is essentially Terry Hargrave's Restoration Therapy model.

Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships by David Schnarch -- This book was probably one of the biggest life changing books for me individually, and in my marriage. It introduced me to the concept of self-differentiation in marriage, and it's ideas on anxiety and self-soothing are some of the most helpful concepts I use with couples. Schnarch is also a sex therapist, so this book will be the most graphic of the selection in terms of it's content.

The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family: A Leadership Fable About Restoring Sanity to the Most Important Organization in Your Life by Patrick Lencioni -- though this is not a "marriage" book per se, it is super helpful in marriages. My wife have worked through this book and it has been marriage transforming for us. I have written about this here, and did a podcast about it here.

The Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle by Mike Mason -- This was really one of the first books that I read on marriage. I read it in seminary when I wasn't even dating anyone, and yet, it is a book I keep coming back to time and time again. One of the things I like about it the best is that it is not a marriage book with how to's or step by step instructions. It's more of a poetic and theological look at marriage.

Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy, More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary L. Thomas -- One of the premises about this book that I think is so helpful is the concept that marriage is a refining process that is more about making us holy than happy. That is a tough sell in today's culture.

Nov 8, 2016

Last week I had the privilege of speaking to one of my favorite groups...MOPS. In this case it was the MOPS group at First Baptist Frisco which is an awesome group I have had the opportunity to speak to before (as well as their MOMSnext group). And as I was thinking about what topic to speak to them about, I started thinking about what season of life most of these moms find themselves in. It's tiring. It's busy. There is lots of new expectations, and that can sometimes be coupled with depression or anxiety. And in the midst of this, there is a marital relationship that they are trying to navigate along with all the challenges of being a new mom, or adding more kids to the family. And they might be in a marriage where their spouse is or isn't engaged in not only the life of the new baby and kids, but may or may not be engaged in the marriage as well.

 

That being said, it's a crucial time for marriages. And a lot of marriages tend to drift during this season, and those who are lucky course correct, and those who aren't, continue to drift apart further and further over the years. But what I have found in healthy marriages, especially ones who navigate this season successfully, is that it's not about luck, but rather about two people committed to working together to see their marriage grow in an intentional way.

 

So in this episode:

 

Resources and People Mentioned in Episode

Corey Allan -- Marital Drift Assessment

The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni

Link to my 5-Part Blog Series on Why Your Family Should Use The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family

Link to my podcast episode on creating a vision statement for your marriage/family

Link to my podcast episode on self-care and relationships

Oct 27, 2016

Last weekend I had the humbling opportunity to speak at the first ever Restoration Therapy Conference which was held at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. When the founder of the model, Dr. Terry Hargrave asked med to present on anxiety and the Restoration Therapy model, I knew it was an invitation that I couldn't refuse. I consider Dr. Hargrave not only a mentor, but also a friend, so I definitely wanted to participate in anything he was doing. But I also knew I would be anxious for several months leading up to my presentation. And I was. But it was a great time to be with a bunch of other therapists and researches who are on the ground floor in the ongoing development of the Restoration Therapy model.

 

I won't go into details in this post since you will hear more in this episode. But I've been using Restoration Therapy as my primary therapeutic model since about 2010 when I was first exposed to it co-leading marriage intensives at The Hideaway Experience in Amarillo, TX. I did not know the model as Restoration Therapy at the time, but rather as The 5 Days to a New Marriage model...and essentially, the Pain and Peace Cycle model.

 

But no model has changed my life more than this one. And no model has helped my clients more than this one. I have experience and training and proficiency in a lot of different models, but I believe this is the best one out there for a lot of reasons...many of which I will go into in this episode.

 

This is a 2 part episode, and in these episodes I explore the concept of anxiety and how it differs from fear...and why that distinction is so important. I look at what anxiety is and how to define it. I talk about how to normalize anxiety for your clients and reframe it as an opportunity for growth. I talk about how to get at the roots of anxiety using the RT Model and understanding the work of the Pain and Peace Cycle. I talk about how to take the Pain and Peace Cycle and practice it daily to create transformation. And then I talk about the important tools and resources that can help people manage their anxiety.

 

But for now, what you must know is this. In the Restoration Therapy Model, anxiety is not a feeling, but rather a coping behavior. We don't feel anxious, rather we become anxious. We do anxiety. But there is some other feeling that drives the anxiety. And that's important, otherwise we could end up just chasing the relief of the symptoms (though important), rather than dealing with the root issues of anxiety. Keeping that in mind, it's important to understand that anxiety is about issues concerning individual(love/identity) and relational personhood (trust/safety). And they are about "ultimate concerns" in life such as faith, life, death, purpose, meaning, relationships. Whereas, fear is about specific situations and circumstances.

 

So as I spell out in these episodes, my fear growing up was speaking in front of people because I would stutter. But my anxiety was that I would feel inadequate, be alone, not measure up. And I spent most of my life trying to relieve my fears (speaking), rather than understanding and dealing with my anxiety (coping behavior) and what was at the root of it, which was those feelings of inadequacy (feelings).

 

It may not seem like an important distinction at the outset, but actually has huge implications in terms of one getting healing when it comes to their anxiety. And I think you can see this distinction play out both in faith and biblical perspectives, as well as psychological and secular perspectives...so I address these integrative pieces as well.

 

So whether you are a therapist, lay counselor, pastor, friend, spouse, parent, colleague....who wants to help someone with anxiety...or whether you are trying to help your own anxiety...these episodes are for you.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

People and Resources Mentioned in the Episodes

Restoration Therapy Model -- in Episode 21 I talk about Restoration Therapy and how I use it for my work with individuals, couples, churches and organizations. Restoration Therapy Conference

Terry Hargrave -- in Episode 55 I interview Dr. Hargrave

Pain Cycle (this is Episode 42)

Peace Cycle (this is Episode 43)

Sharon Hargrave Steve and Rajan Trafton

The Hideaway Experience

The Anxious Christian by Rhett Smith

The Concept of Anxiety by Soren Kierkegaard

Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard

The Meaning of Anxiety by Rollo May

Be Not Anxious: Pastoral Care of Disquieted Souls by Allan Huge Cole Jr.

Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong: A Guide to Life Liberated from Anxiety by Kelly G. Wilson and Todd Dufrene

The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich

Existential Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom

 

Oct 27, 2016

Last weekend I had the humbling opportunity to speak at the first ever Restoration Therapy Conference which was held at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. When the founder of the model, Dr. Terry Hargrave asked med to present on anxiety and the Restoration Therapy model, I knew it was an invitation that I couldn't refuse. I consider Dr. Hargrave not only a mentor, but also a friend, so I definitely wanted to participate in anything he was doing. But I also knew I would be anxious for several months leading up to my presentation. And I was. But it was a great time to be with a bunch of other therapists and researches who are on the ground floor in the ongoing development of the Restoration Therapy model.

 

I won't go into details in this post since you will hear more in this episode. But I've been using Restoration Therapy as my primary therapeutic model since about 2010 when I was first exposed to it co-leading marriage intensives at The Hideaway Experience in Amarillo, TX. I did not know the model as Restoration Therapy at the time, but rather as The 5 Days to a New Marriage model...and essentially, the Pain and Peace Cycle model.

 

But no model has changed my life more than this one. And no model has helped my clients more than this one. I have experience and training and proficiency in a lot of different models, but I believe this is the best one out there for a lot of reasons...many of which I will go into in this episode.

 

This is a 2 part episode, and in these episodes I explore the concept of anxiety and how it differs from fear...and why that distinction is so important. I look at what anxiety is and how to define it. I talk about how to normalize anxiety for your clients and reframe it as an opportunity for growth. I talk about how to get at the roots of anxiety using the RT Model and understanding the work of the Pain and Peace Cycle. I talk about how to take the Pain and Peace Cycle and practice it daily to create transformation. And then I talk about the important tools and resources that can help people manage their anxiety.

 

But for now, what you must know is this. In the Restoration Therapy Model, anxiety is not a feeling, but rather a coping behavior. We don't feel anxious, rather we become anxious. We do anxiety. But there is some other feeling that drives the anxiety. And that's important, otherwise we could end up just chasing the relief of the symptoms (though important), rather than dealing with the root issues of anxiety. Keeping that in mind, it's important to understand that anxiety is about issues concerning individual(love/identity) and relational personhood (trust/safety). And they are about "ultimate concerns" in life such as faith, life, death, purpose, meaning, relationships. Whereas, fear is about specific situations and circumstances.

 

So as I spell out in these episodes, my fear growing up was speaking in front of people because I would stutter. But my anxiety was that I would feel inadequate, be alone, not measure up. And I spent most of my life trying to relieve my fears (speaking), rather than understanding and dealing with my anxiety (coping behavior) and what was at the root of it, which was those feelings of inadequacy (feelings).

 

It may not seem like an important distinction at the outset, but actually has huge implications in terms of one getting healing when it comes to their anxiety. And I think you can see this distinction play out both in faith and biblical perspectives, as well as psychological and secular perspectives...so I address these integrative pieces as well.

 

So whether you are a therapist, lay counselor, pastor, friend, spouse, parent, colleague....who wants to help someone with anxiety...or whether you are trying to help your own anxiety...these episodes are for you.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

People and Resources Mentioned in the Episodes

Restoration Therapy Model -- in Episode 21 I talk about Restoration Therapy and how I use it for my work with individuals, couples, churches and organizations. Restoration Therapy Conference

Terry Hargrave -- in Episode 55 I interview Dr. Hargrave

Pain Cycle (this is Episode 42)

Peace Cycle (this is Episode 43)

Sharon Hargrave

Steve and Rajan Trafton

The Hideaway Experience

The Anxious Christian by Rhett Smith

The Concept of Anxiety by Soren Kierkegaard

Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard

The Meaning of Anxiety by Rollo May

Be Not Anxious: Pastoral Care of Disquieted Souls by Allan Huge Cole Jr.

Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong: A Guide to Life Liberated from Anxiety by Kelly G. Wilson and Todd Dufrene

The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich

Existential Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom

Oct 6, 2016

One of the most common questions I get outside of my office (via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.) is, "What can I do if I struggle with anxiety?" Or often they are asking for someone they know and care about, "What can I do to help someone with anxiety?"

 

I have to caution and say that there is not a one size fits all answer to this question.

 

But generally speaking there are 4 things that I tell that person that we can do:

  1. I help them see that anxiety is completely normal. There is nothing wrong with you for struggling with anxiety. That may seem obvious to many of you, but for many, having anxiety is like carrying around a scarlet letter on their chest in their community. So I try to normalize the experience for them.
  2. I help that person identify some tools and resources that will help them manage and or reduce their currently level of distress with anxiety. I find this to be an important step that allows us to move to the next thing.
  3. I help that person identify and work on the root issue that is driving the anxiety. Relieving symptoms is great, but to really transform anxiety, I want to help that person understand the root of their anxiety. Anxiety is the coping behavior of some feeling.
  4. I help the person reframe anxiety as an opportunity for growth. I want them to see anxiety as a friend who speaks into their life and guides them. I want to help them to see God at work in the midst of it.

These are four things that you can help a person, or yourself, who is struggling with anxiety. And these are the things that you might also want to look for in a counselor, therapist, pastoral counselor, life coach, etc.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

Sep 29, 2016

When I was in my early 30's I was fortunate enough to have a really great Marriage and Family Therapy supervisor in D. Michael Smith. He was actually one of many early great mentors I had and supervisors as I pursued my license as a therapist. But one day while I was in a supervision session with him, and I was feeling particularly stuck with a client, he took out a piece of paper and began to write some questions down.

 

He told me that he believed that every person is essentially asking these 4 questions at each new stage in their life (and potentially are questions that are constantly at one's top of mind). As he began to write I was super eager to see what these important questions were. He put the piece of paper between us and I began to look at the questions with him. The questions were:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What am I to do?
  3. How am I to be loved?
  4. How do I become all that God created me to be?

Essentially, they are questions of identity, vocation, relationship, and purpose/calling. And these questions are intimately linked with one another, because often one can't be answered without having answered the other.

 

In this episode I explore these 4 questions in depth and talk about why they are necessary questions for us. They are perhaps the most important questions we can be asking ourselves. They are questions of ultimate concern as I talk about in this episode. As the Christian existential philosopher/theologian Paul Tillich wrote:

"Man, like every living being, is concerned about many things, above all about those which condition his very existence...If [a situation or concern] claims ultimacy it demands the total surrender of him who accepts this claim...it demands that all other concerns...be sacrificed." (Dynamics of Faith)

I have written and talking extensively about how anxiety in the New Testament can mean different things in different contexts. Paul in Philippians uses the Greek merimnao to describe not being anxious (Philippians 4:6) and to have care/concern for (Philippians 2:20). In essence, the Greek word for anxiety here means literally to not be anxious, but at other times, have care and concern for.

 

So it's possible that our anxiety at times points to ultimate concerns because it's in our anxiety that we are being told to care for these things. And it's these questions that often come up for us.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

Resources and People Mentioned in the Episode
Paul Tillich
D. Michael Smith

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Plano, Texas. I work with individuals, couples, and families regarding a number of issues from marriage therapy, anxiety, depression, infidelity, faith, relationship strengthening, and athletic performance. If you are interested in scheduling a session with me, or having me out to speak, please contact us via email or phone (469-304-9022).

Sep 22, 2016

 

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Soren Kierkegaard

That quote by Soren Kierkegaard in his work The Concept of Anxiety, has always been one of my favorite quotes. I think it truly captures the hear of anxiety for many...In that being free, creative beings who are responsible for our lives and the choices and directions we take...that freedom creates a lot of anxiety for many. In this episode I explore the varied definitions and meanings of anxiety from the clinical to the biblical, to the existential.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

Link to Episode 76

Resources and People Mentioned in the Episode

The Concept of Anxiety by Sorek Kierkegaard

The Meaning of Anxiety by Rollo May

be not anxious by Allan Hugh Cole Jr.

The Anxious Christian by Rhett Smith

Aug 31, 2016

One of the populations I love working with in my practice is athletes. I've been fortunate enough to work with a large variety of athletes from professionals to amateur, from middle school kids all the way up to a middle aged runner like me. And in my time with athletes several themes around athletics have emerged that tend to be the central focus of our counseling time together.  

 

Those are:

  • performance anxiety
  • anxiety and stress due to pressure from overbearing parents
  • depression from not achieving an athletic goal or from not being able to participate in the sport because of injury.
  • training the athlete for more positive self-talk and visualization to increase performance.

 

These 4 issues seem to crop up the most and I have had a lot of success using the Restoration Therapy model developed by Terry Hargrave. Even though I initially used it only with couples I have expanded it's use to individuals, families, organizations, and now athletes. I feel that it's core tenets, especially the importance of emotional self-regulation and working to identify and act out of one's truth, rather than out of one's negative cycle, have been extremely helpful.  

 

In this episode I briefly mention the components above, but really spend the bulk of the episode diving into some of the work of Angela Duckworth in her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, and what she has to say about anxious parents and kid's athletics. In the episode I read from about 2-3 pages worth of material to give you an understanding of what Duckworth is communicating when it comes to grit and our kids, while at the same time commenting on some of the things I have seen in my practice.  

 

I echo Duckworth's and other's findings that children who are allowed autonomy to choose what sports in activities to engage in, and who have the freedom to explore a multiplicity of sports, while at the same time not engaging in them all year round, often fare better than their counterparts who specialize early and play all year. The latter often leads to a lot of burnout (often by high school or college), and it short circuits the development of passion because kid has not had the ability to pursue their own interests, but have often been pursuing the interests of the parents.  

 

I want to leave you with one quote from Grit that I read in this episode:  

Sports psychologist Jean Cote finds that shortcutting this stage of relaxed, playful interest, discovery, and development has dire consequences. In his research, professional athletes like Rowdy Gains who, as a children, sampled a variety of different sports before committing to one, generally fare much better in the long run. This early breadth of experience helps the young athlete figure out which sport fits better than others,. Sampling also provides an opportunity to 'cross train' muscles and skills that will eventually complement more focused training. While athletes who skip this state often enjoy an early advantage in competition against less specialized peers, Cote finds that they're more likely to become injured physically and to burn out. (page 107 on Kindle).

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

Resources and People Mentioned in this Episode

Terry Hargrave

Restoration Therapy

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Duckworth

Benjamin Bloom

Jean Cote

Aug 23, 2016

So if your day was anything like my wife and I's yesterday, it involved walking our kids into their first day of school this year. My daughter starts 4th grade, and my son starts Kindergarten. And like many of you, we are in a new transition as we begin a new school year. One filled with excitement, anxieties, fears, joys, ups and downs, and all kinds of emotions in between there.

 

After dropping my kids off at school I spent some time thinking about this particular transition in life and about all the kids I have had the privilege to work with over the last 20+ years...sometimes as a camp counselor, youth pastor, and therapist. And one of the things that I thought about the most was all the expectations we have as parents when our kid starts off a new school year. Sometimes our expectations are appropriate ones, and other times if we are honest with ourselves, the expectations might have more to do with us, than our kids. But guess what, our kids also start off the school year with expectations of their own, but I wonder how much we stop and talk to them about that.

 

So in today's episode I share a few things that I have found to be helpful in my work with kids and their families, as well as in my own life. Some things I feel we do a pretty good job of, and other things are a work in progress. But isn't parenting always that way...just when you think you have something figured out, it all changes. In this episode I discuss:

  • Being honest with your own expectations as a parent.
  • Talking with your kids about their expectations.
  • The importance of building connection with your kids and some ways to do it this school year.
  • The importance of spending time wisely and some suggestions of how to create that.
  • The importance of risk taking and failure in our kid's development.

 

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Plano, Texas. I work with individuals, couples, and families regarding a number of issues from marriage therapy, anxiety, depression, infidelity, faith, relationship strengthening, and a whole lot more. If you are interested in scheduling a session with me, or having me out to speak, please contact us via email or phone (469-304-9022).

Aug 17, 2016

I have the great privilege of working with couples in my office on a daily basis. Some come to me before they are married, some within a few years of marriage, but the great majority of them come to see me after a crisis that was indicative of the marital drift in their life. In Episode 19 of my podcast I talked about marital drift and the kid centered marriage. But essentially what often happens in relationships is that couples set out with good intentions to care for and love each other...to make each other priority. In fact, it was often that feeling of being a priority in dating that led to engagement and marriage.

 

But over the course of the marriage couples often make sacrifices that hurt the marriage and leave one or both spouses not often feeling like a priority. I see this most often in couples that just got busy. They had kids...the kids got busy with sports and activities...and the marriage drifted. Then one day they wake up, perhaps 5, 10, 15, 20 years later, and are so disconnected that they don't know how to reconnect, or aren't sure it is worth the effort.

 

The drift itself often is felt early on in a marriage, but it's not until a crisis hits such as an affair, an addiction, or the threat of divorce that couples will recognize it fully or want to engage it.

 

And in this episode I talk about one of my core beliefs that I have come to realize after 20 plus years in the pastoral and clinical counseling setting....and that is that couples can't have both a great marriage, and at the same time put their their kids first by running around in a million different directions and pursuing a million different activities. Something will have to be sacrificed, and often it's the marriage. My other belief that I explore in this episode is that the marriage should have priority, not the kids. I think we live in a culture where we have put kids first, and what often gets sacrificed is not only the marriage, but the family falls apart as well since the marriage is in disaster. Instead, I have seen time and time again that where the marriage is priority, the kids benefit. This isn't a statement about one being more important or loving one more. You love both, that's why the marriage is a priority. So as you listen to this episode I want you to think about your own marriage, and whether or not it's the priority over your kids. And what implications are there for the answer you have?

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

Aug 11, 2016

One of the things that I've noticed a lot about relationships and conflict, is that a lot of it tends to happen in periods of daily transition. For example, conflict tends to arise when people are leaving the house in the morning, or coming home later in the day. Whether it's a spouse, roommate, or child, there tends to be a lot of missed expectations in those two periods of the day. Maybe it's the rushed chaos that often accompanies those periods (i.e. rushing kids off to school, coming home after a long chaotic day at work, etc.) of the day, or maybe it's that we have ideas in our head about how things are going to look. For example, I might have the expectation that when I come home from work that my wife and kids are excited to see me and greet me as I come in the door...if that doesn't happen, I may become disappointed and that could lead to conflict. Or maybe my wife has been working all day and running around with the kids since school's been out and she has the expectation that I will walk in the door and help with dinner, when maybe I withdraw to our bedroom to relax for a few minutes...maybe she feels disappointed as well, and that can lead to conflict.

 

These are just a couple of examples of the thousands of expectations that we have when we leave a place in transition, and we enter back into that place in transition. It's such an important time that I would often spend time working with couples over this issue during marriage intensives at The Hideaway Experience.

 

The reality is we all have expectations. It's just there is something that happens in the transition that I think tends to create a lot of conflict for couples. So in order to navigate that more successfully I have discovered several things that are helpful to couples in doing this. Whether it be creating some rules around greetings, or boundaries around technology, or taking the time to get into the right frame of mind for the upcoming transitions....in this episode of the Rhett Smith Podcast I share with you some examples of conflict in transition, and give you some practical ideas to navigate it more successfully.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

"

Aug 4, 2016

I'm not quite exactly sure of the origin of learning about this communication technique, but I know it must have morphed together from all of my training and experience as a therapist...so I'm sure it has it's roots in varying theorists, I just can't place it right now. But in my time as a therapist I was used to hearing couples talking about all the things that weren't working well in the relationship. And most often it would come across in the form of criticism. Some spouse would be sharing all the things that their partner wasn't doing. And you can imagine what that was doing to the relationship...you can imagine what kind of pain cycle that was creating.

 

So I started thinking about what it would look like to share with your spouse not all the things they were doing wrong, but rather, the things they desired and wanted and needed in the relationship. Why not focus on the positives (what you want and desire), rather than the negatives (all they weren't doing right). This subtle (maybe it's not so subtle) shift in language began to have a different affect on couples. Rather than creating situations of defensiveness, it created opportunities for openness and closeness.

 

But the key is, once you talk about what you want and desire, you have to let go of the outcome. You have to let go of the expectations in the relationship. Listen closely here...I'm not saying you can't, or shouldn't have expectations in a relationship...but what I'm saying you have to let go of that particular expectation you are requesting. You can't demand. You have to allow the other person in the relationship the freedom to decide to do what you are requesting, or to not do it. This is a request based out of freedom, not out of fear or demanding. Demanding relationships drain life out of the couple, whereas, ones based in freedom are life-giving.

 

I think I first learned of the "letting go of the outcome" step in Terence Real's book, The New Rules of Marriage. In his technique called The Feedback Wheel, the final step is "Let go of the outcome." There is a whole process to his feedback wheel, but I eventually took this idea of letting go of the outcome into other theories I was learning, and I began to apply it to couples and families that I was working with.

 

So in today's podcast I want to help you with this simple technique of being vulnerable (the hard part) in your relationship by shifting your focus on what your partner is not doing (that's a position of criticism), and focus on what you are desiring and wanting. It's vulnerable and risky to request though, because what if they say no. But this is about putting yourself out there. And so when you put yourself out there, you let go of the outcome. And as a therapist who highly believes in self-differentiation, and practices the Restoration Therapy model where one's identity is not based in the partner, but in one's own truth....I want to say, this is not about putting your identity in your partner or demanding from them. This is just simply about being honest about yourself and what you desire...but then letting go of it. It's in this freedom that we learn more about the needs, wants, desires of our partner, and it's helpful to know those things, so that in one's freedom, they can choose to, or choose not to respond.

 

Try this technique out at home and let me know what you think.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

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Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

The New Rules of Marriage by Terence Real

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Plano, Texas. I work with individuals, couples, and families regarding a number of issues from marriage therapy, anxiety, depression, infidelity, faith, relationship strengthening, and a whole lot more. If you are interested in scheduling a session with me, or having me out to speak, please contact us via email or phone (469-304-9022).

Jul 28, 2016

This has been an incredibly difficult political season, in that it highlights the deep divisions among one another along racial, sexual, economical, and political lines....just to name a few.

 

And one thing I have been struggling with the most is to try and remind myself of how I talk about people that believe different than me. Because how I talk about them or their beliefs (if I do at all), will determine whether or not we can be in relationship with one another...and hopefully learn and grow from the mutual relationship.

 

But what happens most often is that we end up using exclusionary language (they, them, those people) that actually create more division and destroy the possibility of any relationship, rather than using inclusionary and embracing language (I, you, we, us) that pulls us closer to one another. And without the relationship, no progress can be made. It's the relationship that makes it safe for us to work through our ideas with one another, and to be challenged, and to grow. When it is unsafe, we are not able to do this, but instead withdraw and fight and name call.

 

I see this played out daily at a microlevel in my counseling office with couples and familes and individuals, but at the marcrolevel I am sometimes left feeling hopeless and inadequate that we can do the same.

 

So this is something that I need to work on myself, and I wanted to process this out loud with you in this episode.

 

Fair warning though, Martin Buber and Miroslav Volf were hard enough for me to read at a slow pace, so I hope I didn't totally do them injustice by drawing on their ideas and talking about them with you in this episode.

 

In this episode I also read two lengthy quotes form Volf's wonderful book, Exclusion and Embrace. Those are posted below so that you can read on your own as well.

 

Check out this episode and walk with me on this journey so that we all contribute to more positive change in our homes, neighborhoods, communities, cities, states and world...you get the idea...start with where you can directly affect change, and then go from there.

 

Episode 70, quote #1:

In all wars, whether large or small, whether carried out on battlefields, city streets, living rooms, or faculty lounges, we come across the same basic exclusionary polarity: “us against them,” “their gain–our loss, ” “either us or them.” The stronger the conflict, the more the rich texture of the social world disappears and the stark exclusionary polarity emerges around which all thought and practice aligns itself. No other choice seems available, no neutrality possible, and therefore no innocence sustainable. If one does not exit that whole social world, one gets sucked into its horrid polarity. Tragically enough, over time the polarity has a macabre way of mutating into its very opposite–into “both us and them” that unites the divided parties in a perverse communion of mutual hate and mourning over the dead.
……….There may indeed be situations in which “there is no choice,” though we should not forget that to destroy the other rather than to be destroyed oneself is itself a choice. In most cases, however, the choice is not constrained by an inescapable “either us or them.” If there is will, courage and imagination the stark polarity can be overcome. Those caught in the vortex of mutual exclusion can resist its pull, rediscover their common belonging, even fall into each other’s arms. People with conflicting interests, clashing perspectives, and differing cultures can avoid sliding into the cycle of escalating violence and instead maintain bonds, even make their life together flourish. (pp. 99-100) — Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

 

Episode 70, quote #2:

What is so profoundly different about the “new order” of the father is that it is not built around the alternatives as defined by the older brother: either strict adherence to the rules or disorder and disintegration; either you are “in” or you are “out,” depending on whether you have or have not broken a rule. He rejected this alternative because his behavior was governed by the one fundamental “rule”: relationship has priority over all rules. Before any rule can apply, he is a father to his sons and his sons are brothers to one another. The reason for celebration is that “this son of mine” (v.24) and “this brother of yours” (v.32) has been found and has come alive again. Notice the categorical difference between how the father and how the older brother interpret the prodigal’s life in the “distant country.” The older brother employs moral categories and constructs his brother’s departure along the axis of “bad/good” behavior: the brother has “devoured your property with prostitutes” (v.30). The father, though keenly aware of the moral import of his younger son’s behavior, employs relational categories and constructs his son’s departure along the axis of “lost/found” and “alive (to him)/dead (to him).” Relationship is prior to moral rules; moral performances may do something to the relationship, but relationship is not grounded in moral performance. Hence the will to embrace is independent of the quality of behavior, though at the same time “repentance,” “confession,” and the “consequences of one’s actions” all have their own proper place. The profound wisdom about the priority of the relationship, and not some sentimental insanity, explains the father’s kind of “prodigality” to both of his sons.
For the father, the priority of the relationship means not only a refusal to let moral rules be the final authority regulating “exclusion” and “embrace” but also a refusal to construct his own identity in isolation from his sons. He readjusts his identity along with the changing identities of his sons and thereby reconstructs their broken identities and relationships. He suffers being “un-fathered” by both, so that through this suffering he may regain both as his sons (if the older brother was persuaded) and help them rediscover each other as brothers. Refusing the alternatives of “self-constructed” vs. “imposed” identities, difference vs. domestication, he allows himself to be taken on the journey of their shifting identities so that he can continue to be their father and they, each other’s brothers. Why does he not lose himself on the journey? Because he is guided by indestructible love and supported by a flexible order.
Flexible order? Changing identities? The world of fixed rules and stable identities is the world of the older brother. The father destabilizes this world–and draws his older son’s anger upon himself. The father’s most basic commitment is not to rules and given identities but to his sons whose lives are too complex to be regulated by fixed rules and whose identitites are too dynamic to be defined once for all. Yet he does not give up the rules and the order. Guided by the indestructible love which makes space in the self for others in their alterity, which invites the others who have trangressed to return, which creates hospitable conditions for their confession, and rejoices over their presence, the father keeps re-configuring the order without destroying it so as to maintain it as an order of embrace rather than exclusion. (pp.164-165)

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

I and Thou by Martin Buber

Jul 12, 2016

I first heard of Anne Marie Miller when she was actually Anne Jackson, and she was blogging under the name Flowerdust. This was probably around 2006/2007 or so (maybe earlier), and she had a very popular blog that talked a lot about ministry, leadership, and other faith related topics. What was different about her was her level of authenticity and vulnerability in her posts...and she was a woman writing on a topic that at that point was almost primarily dominated by men.

 

Eventually I was able to meet Anne in person at a theology/technology conference that Biola University was holding (maybe back in 2007/2008--again, my dates are fuzzy), and we have remained good friends since then, often talking a lot about issues related to mental health such as anxiety and depression. In fact, about 7 years ago I interviewed Anne in a two part series on depression, burnout and ministry:

 

 

But in this episode I dive into a very important topic that seems to be on the hearts and minds of almost every parent I talk to, whether that is a parent of a client of mine, or just friends and neighbors. And that is the topic of sex and pornography, especially as it relates to the role that technology plays. Anne just recently had her new book published, 5 Things Every Parents Needs to Know About their Kids and Sex. It's a really great and timely book, and I was thankful that I was able to participate in the writing process of the book with some contributions of my own on this topic.

 

This is a topic that both Anne and I have spent numerous years talking with both kids and parents about. And it was really timely for my own wife and I as we are currently navigating the issues of technology with our kids, and as we talk to them about sexuality.

 

In this episode we bounce around covering a lot of topics:

  • Anne shares her personal story of porn addiction in her teenage years.
  • We discuss the wiring of the brain around pornographic images.
  • We discuss how kids get involved with pornography
  • We discuss various social media apps and their implications
  • We discuss why it's so hard for parents to talk about sex and pornography with their kids, and how they can go about the conversation.
  • Etc.

 

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About their Kids and Sex by Anne Marie Miller

My Story – Part 1: The Preacher’s Daughter & The Youth Pastor – My Introduction to Sexual Abuse and Pornography

My Story – Part 2: Fighting My Addiction to Pornography (and Giving the Gift of Going Second!)

Here is a listing of Anne's other books

 

Jun 29, 2016

*Note: In this podcast I mention a social psychologist whom I couldn't remember. I realized that I was actually thinking of the work of Carol Dweck, but it wasn't actually her research I was referring to.

 

Recently I've been thinking a lot about a certain topic in parenting. And the topic revolves around how often we as parents use the "I am the parent" card in various forms or fashions. Sometimes we literally say that out loud, and other times we are just thinking it. You may have your own version, but I hear something to this effect quite a bit in my counseling sessions with parents and their adolescents.

 

And when I hear this statement (or some version of it) coming from a parent and said to their kid, what I essentially hear is, "What you have to say, think, believe, etc, doesn't matter." It basically cuts off any form of understanding or connection in that relationship, and I believe will eventually lead a kid to disrespect and rebel from their parents authority. Nothing communicates a lack of worth more quickly than basically not listening to those we are in relationship with.

 

I've been thinking about this a lot because on several occasions I've seen parents do a great job of really seeking to understand their kids in session...and it changes everything. Literally. One of the reasons I'm able to do it in session so easily with adolescents is because I'm not their parent, and the emotional connection is very different, and not highly charged. But with my own kids, I often find myself not taking the time to slow down and listen to what they have to say.

 

Listening to our kids is so important, and though there are times to make decisions as a parent and want follow through without any type of pushing back from them, there is also a really healthy exchange that takes place when kids ask and demand that we as parents give them answers. This is especially true the older the kid gets. And I think we actually do them a disservice when we just excuse their questioning, and we end up not really preparing them for the future. We need to help our kids understand why we make the decisions we make so they have a compass by which to make their own decisions. We need to show them that understanding and empathy and connection are important. In this episode:

  • I talk about the importance of kids questioning are authority and decision making.
  • I talk about why this questioning can lead to understanding and empathy and connection.
  • I talk about how we as parents help model decision making skills and understanding by going through this process with our own kids.

 

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

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Link to Episode 68

Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

 

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Plano, Texas. I work with individuals, couples, and families regarding a number of issues from marriage therapy, anxiety, depression, infidelity, faith, relationship strengthening, and a whole lot more. If you are interested in scheduling a session with me, or having me out to speak, please contact us via email or phone (469-304-9022).

Jun 21, 2016

Sunday was Father's Day. And like Mother's Day...it can bring up all kinds of emotions for people. Positive emotions. Negative Emotions. Feelings of joy and happiness, or anger and fear, as well as loss. And that's just to name a few. I am very thankful that I have a very amazing father. I posted on Instagram just all that he has meant to me, especially when I take into consideration that my mom died from breast cancer when I was 11, and my dad became a single parent to two boys. And the longer I am a parent, the more thankful that I am. This is my experience, but as I wrote at the outset, days like these can bring up all kinds of feelings for people. And so as I mention in this podcast episode, I want to acknowledge that.

 

In light of Father's Day this last week I want to talk about 3 important life giving messages that I first wrote about in my book, What It Means to Be a Man. In Chapter 3 on Fathering I quote Larry Crabb from his book The Silence of Adam. Crabb writes:

"A godly father speaks three messages to his son: 1. 'It can be done. 2. You're not alone. 3. I believe in you.'"

Those 3 messages have been messages that have changed my life, and were ones that not only my dad instilled in me growing up, but ones that my mother did as well.

 

And though I initially wrote this for a men's book, and we are coming off Father's Day, I want to say loud and clear, that these messages aren't limited to father's and sons. These are messages that all people can speak to one another. Parent to child. Spouse to Spouse. Colleague to Colleague. We all desire to know these truths, and we should count it a gift if someone in our lives have spoken these things to us.

 

But here is your opportunity. You have the ability to speak these 3 messages (or your own version of them) to those people in your life who so desperately need to know these things. And even if they don't desperately need to per se, we all desire to hear these things spoken to us.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

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So in this episode:

  • I talk about these 3 messages and what they mean.
  • I encourage you to think about those people around you who need to hear this message.
  • I challenge you to go out this week and speak these messages to those people.

Resources and Links Mentioned in the Episode

What it Means to be a Man: God's Design for Us in a World Full of Extremes by Rhett Smith

The Silence of Adam: Becoming Men of Courage in a World of Chaos by Larry Crabb

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Plano, Texas. I work with individuals, couples, and families regarding a number of issues from anxiety, depression, infidelity, faith, relationship strengthening, and a whole lot more. If you are interested in scheduling a session with me, or having me out to speak, please contact us via email or phone (469-304-9022).

Jun 15, 2016

In my time on staff at the Hideaway Experience doing marriage intensives, my co-therapists and I had a few rules that we would often write out for the 4 couples on the their first day of intensive work. We found that having some guiding principles (rules) made the process more safe for everyone involved. And one of the rules that always stuck out to me was "Be curious vs. being judgemental". Pretty simple. We found that when spouses were curious about their partner, there were less likely to be in a posture of being critical or judgemental.

 

In fact, when someone is curious about you, it's probably likely you feel loved, valued, known...just to name a few truths. And so that principle has always stuck with me. And the more I started to think about it, it reminded me that I learned that principle about 15 years ago in seminary by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Ray Anderson, who is now deceased. He told my class a beautiful story about he and his wife that I share in this podcast episode...a story which highlights the importance of curiosity in a relationship.

 

So in episode 66:

  • I talk about when I first learned about curiosity and relationships from my professor Dr. Ray Anderson.
  • I talk about the rule that we used to share with couples at the beginning of our marriage intensives that helped foster curiosity.
  • I share why curiosity is such an important factor in all relationships, whether it be marriage, parent-child, colleague, friends, etc.
  • I share some quotes on curiosity.
  • I share some ideas how you can begin to practice and experiment with curiosity in your relationships this week.

 

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

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Resources and People Mentioned in this Episode

The Hideaway Experience Marriage Intensives

Dr. Ray Anderson

Marriage and Family Therapist Todd Sandel

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke's quote on curiosity (i.e. questions)

Albert Einstein's quote on curiosity

Dr. Harville Hendrix's article on curiosity in marriage

May 26, 2016

In this episode I explore:

  • the link between anger and depression.
  • the different types of depression.
  • different treatments for depression.
  • reframing depression.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

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Resources Mentioned in the Episode

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Health

NIMH: National Institute of Mental Health

ADAA: Anxiety and Depression Association of America

MAYO: Mayo Clinic

TWLOHA: To Write Love on Her Arms (self-harm, suicide)

I Just Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression by Terence Real

Unmasking Male Depression: Recognizing the Root Cause to Many Problems Such as Anger, Resentment, Abusiveness, Silence, Addictions, and Sexual Compulsiveness by Archibald Hart

A Women’s Guide to Overcoming Depression by Archibald Hart and Catherine Hart Weber

A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives by Kelley Brogan M.D. and Kristin Loberg

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer

Naming and Navigating Depression in the Lives of Teenagers by Rhett Smith

May 24, 2016

I've noticed over the last few months a growing anger and frustration within me. This has been very disheartening. Because I think if you were to ask my close friends and family, the word anger and frustration wouldn't typically be associated with me. But maybe that's my own lack of insight.

 

But in this time I've realized several things about what has been going on. One, I have been doing a horrible job of self-care, which leaves me little ability to regulate and manage my emotions in a healthy way. Two, my wife and I are in an incredibly challenging stage of life (like all of you), as we try to adjust to new challenges as our kids get older and work brings about a new level of busyness. Three, the most important lesson I've learned is not what I think of myself or how others may perceive me...but what those closest to me think. Those closest to me have the greatest experience with what my true self is in varying moments...and because of that, they are often on the front lines of helping me better understand myself, and acting as a barometer for my own negative coping behavior.

 

When I was in graduate school at Fuller Theological Seminary, one of my favorite professors and mentors, Dr. Ray Anderson reminded me that who we are (as a person) around those closest to us tells us a lot about who we are, and is a great indicator of our true selves in moments of struggle. Dr. Anderson reminded our class one day that if we wanted to know whether or not he possessed the fruit of the Spirit that the Apostle Paul writes about in Galatians 5:22-23, then we need to ask his wife and kids. They would be the best equipped at telling the truth on that matter.

 

So I am working hard on my own anger and frustration so that when people ask my wife and kids what I'm like, they will be able to point to Galatians 5:22-23.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

In this episode I explore:

  • my recent struggle with anger and frustration.
  • how I identified the feelings and emotions at the root of the anger.
  • self-care as a tool to regulate emotions.
  • the value of of close family and friends giving the most accurate feedback on our true selves.
  • Dr. Ray Anderson's discussion on Galatians 5:22-23
May 12, 2016

I've been talking about Sabbath in the last couple of podcast episodes (Episode 61: Sabbath Rest and Your Identity, Episode 62: Sabbath Rest and Anxiety), and so I close the series in this episode talking about various practices. As I've come to learn more about Sabbath and practice various ways of being on that day, I realize that everyone's Sabbath may look differently. Ultimately, I believe the key is that Sabbath is a way of being, rather than doing, and so it's a day where we set aside our compulsion to have to do things, perform, be productive, etc, and we enjoy our relationship with God, others, and ourselves. In this episode I discuss:

  • How to assess your busyness (i.e. "white space on the calendar").
  • Setting a day to practice Sabbath.
  • Setting a time for your Sabbath practice.
  • Asking yourself questions about what a practice of being vs. doing would look like.
  • Allowing for the fact that your Sabbath will look different than other peoples.
  • Expecting resistance as you fight the culture of consumption and busyness.
  • Etc.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

Resources and People Mentioned in the Podcast

Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to a Culture of Now by Walter Brueggemann

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting by Marva J. Dawn

Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight by Norman Wirzba

Sabbath: The Ancient Practices by Dan Allender

Sabbath Keeping Versus Margin Keeping Practices We Must Foster

Diagnosing Our Online Busyness So That We Can Live More Holistically

May 5, 2016

As I mentioned in my podcast last week (Sabbath Rest and Identity), I have been thinking a lot about the topic of Sabbath over the course of the last year. It seems that it comes up in more and more of my conversations, and it's absence in the lives of many people (especially evident in many of the clients I work with), lead to a lot struggles, conflict, and issues with anxiety and depression. And it's absence in my own life is the source (I believe) for much of the anxiety that I have struggled with.

 

For a period of time (I actually blogged about Sabbath about 5 and half years ago, and here almost 6 years ago). So in reality, I guess I have been thinking about this topic for a long time...but maybe I'm just now starting to take it seriously.

 

This seriousness began last year when I read Walter Brueggemann's powerful book, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now.

 

Last week I focused more on how identity relates to Sabbath rest, and though I will talk about that again in this podcast, I focus more on the anxiety that happens when we are caught up in a culture of productivity. In Sabbath as Resistance, Brueggemann writes:

"There had been no work stoppage for the slaves, because they had to gather straw during their time off; no work stoppage of anybody in the Egyptian system, because frantic productivity drove the entire system. And now YHWH nullifies that entire system of anxious production. There are limits to how much and how long slaves must produce bricks! There are limits to how much food Pharaoh can store and consume and administer. The limit is set by the weekly work pause that breaks the production cycle. And those who participate in it break the anxiety cycle. They are invited to awareness that life does not consist in frantic production and consumption that reduces everyone else to threat and competitor. And as the work stoppage permits a waning of anxiety, so energy is redeployed to the neighborhood. The odd insistence of the God of Sinai is to counter anxious productivity with committed neighborliness. The latter practice does not produce so much; but it creates an environment of security and respect and dignity that redefines the human project." (Kindle Loc. 476, pp. 27)

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

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Resources and People Mentioned in the Podcast

Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to a Culture of Now by Walter Brueggemann

Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight by Norman Wirzba

Sabbath: The Ancient Practices by Dan Allender

Apr 28, 2016

I have been thinking a lot about the topic of Sabbath over the course of the last year. It seems that it comes up in more and more of my conversations, and it's absence in the lives of many people (especially evident in many of the clients I work with), lead to a lot struggles, conflict, and issues with anxiety and depression. And it's absence in my own life is the source (I believe) for much of the anxiety that I have struggled with.

 

For a period of time (I actually blogged about Sabbath about 5 and half years ago, and here almost 6 years ago). So in reality, I guess I have been thinking about this topic for a long time...but maybe I'm just now starting to take it seriously.

 

This seriousness began last year when I read Walter Brueggemann's powerful book, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now. In the book, Brueggemann writes:

"In our own contemporary context of the rat race of anxiety, the celebration of Sabbath is an act of both resistance and alternative. It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity good. Such an act of resistance requires enormous intentionality and communal reinforcement amid the barrage of seductive pressures from the insatiable insistences of the market, with its intrusion into every part of our life from the family to the national budget." Loc. 196 of 1231 (Kindle)

This is the first of approximately 3-4 podcasts I am going to do on the topic of Sabbath. And in this episode I explore:

  • the context of Sabbath in the Exodus story
  • God's freeing of Israel's identity from being one of production and performance, to one of rest and dependence in him.
  • the ways in which we build our sense of identity around our busyness, production, performance, accomplishments, etc.
  • Sabbath is a call to place our identity and sense of self in relationship to God who sustains and cares for us in our being, rather than in one that is dependent upon our control and doing.
  • the lack of Sabbath as a producer of anxiety.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

Resources and People Mentioned in the Podcast

Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to a Culture of Now by Walter Brueggemann

How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living by Rob Bell

Henri Nouwen

Apr 19, 2016

Over the course of the last 3 years I have really been experimenting with my diet. That is to day, I have been adding and subtracting certain foods that I consume, and then I pay attention to see what the results yield. And it's because of this experimentation that I have really been arriving at a place where I have noticed just how drastically the right food can improve my overall healthy, fitness and relationships.

 

I once heard someone say that change begins with what's on your plate. And without going into other ideas I have about that (especially theologically), I agree that as humans, what we put into our body affects so much of who we are and the experiences we have.

 

This started several years ago when I decided to just give skim milk up on a whim and switch over to almond milk. I haven't looked back as I noticed immediate changes in how I felt. It soon followed with giving up cheese, and then dairy. And then I started giving up more and more meat, and adding more and more vegetables. Somewhere along the way I introduced a daily green smoothie into the mix, and this last Lent I gave up meat for 55 days. All these experiments have impacted me in some very positive ways, and I have seen the ramifications in how my diet has affected my fitness (especially my running), my relationships (especially with my wife and kids), and just my overall health (I haven't been sick or had a cold in probably over 3 years).

 

So I'm interested to see what happens to your life when you begin to experiment with your diet. I'm not a licensed dietitian or medical doctor, so make sure you consult them first when making any changes that might negatively impact your health. But also realize that we are responsible to be good stewards of our lives, and that includes our physical bodies...so do the research because the information is everywhere. And then try eliminating and adding various things from your diet and see what happens.

 

In this episode:

  • I explore the importance of being responsible for your food choices and health.
  • I talk about my experience with giving up milk, cheese and then dairy.
  • I talk about giving up meat for 55 days and what that experience was like.
  • I talk about the importance of not getting bogged down and shaming yourself when you make bad food choices..but start again fresh the next day.
  • I talk about how you can begin to experiment with your diet.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

Resources Mentioned in the Episode Rich Roll

Apr 13, 2016

Running is not new to this blog or podcast. In fact, I've done episodes on various aspects of running before (listen to Episode 20, Episode 25, and Episode 32.)

 

But a couple of things have changed since I last talked about running on the podcast. First, I am just about to complete my certification as a Level I Running Coach through the RRCA. I've been wanting to do this for a while and was so excited to take the course. I had a great time with the cohort. Second, one of the main reasons I wanted to get certified was so that I could bring that knowledge to some therapy running groups I am working on starting. Even though I have been running through years and feel that I can be helpful to runners when building a program...I really wanted the information and knowledge to do it in a way that just wasn't relying on my experience since every runner is different.

 

So, in this episode:

  • I talk briefly about my coaching certification process.
  • I share my desire to start therapy running groups in my practice.
  • And I review the 4 key components of self-care that running engages.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

RRCA Coaching Certification

Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself by Rich Roll

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen by Chistopher McDougall

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek

Why We Run: A Natural History by Bernd Heinrich

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes

 

Apr 7, 2016

I've been thinking a lot recently about the struggle we have of living in the tension of things not coming to fruition as quickly as we would like. We live in a fast-paced culture that expects everything on demand...and quickly. But where the tension comes in is that the life of faith is not a life that can be obtained on demand, or often very quickly. God doesn't seem to concerned about doing things quickly, or on my time frame. God seems to work at a different pace than me...and that can create a lot of anxiety and impatience.

 

We may want things done in a day, but God has shown that sometimes the journey make take 40 years. Time and time again I'm struck by the fact that the journey for the Israelites from captivity in Egypt into the Promised Land was a essentially a 13 day journey...but it took 40 years. Often people will quote Jeremiah 29:11-12 to me (which is a wonderful passage), but I have to bring to attention that verse 10 reminds them they will spend 70 years in captivity first.

 

So God isn't in a hurry to accomplish things, and we have to begin to learn to live in the tension of our anxious impatience for things to be done quickly and in the way we want it to be done. In this episode I reflect on the varied journeys that God takes us on in our life, and as I do this I share some passages from my book The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good?

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good?

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