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Laura Giles, LCSW

Exploring the Masculine Archetypes

There is a disturbing amount of unhealthy information out there about what it means to be a man. I recently saw an article that essentially described American males as emotionless, lonely, tough, disposable robots. I took it as a wake up call to recognize the humanity inside and release some of the pressure put upon men. It struck me as being pretty brutal. Perhaps this stereotype exists is because we live in an age where we don’t cultivate healthy males. Many households are fatherless due to death or absence. The absence is most often due to incarceration, abandonment, working long hours, or emotional estrangement. So fathers are not rearing healthy males. Mothers may either encourage unhealthy male stereotypes or make our boys into pseudo women. Or worse yet, our young males are molded by pop culture. Consequently...

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Practice Compassion

Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. It’s always effective to practice compassion when we encounter someone who is suffering. It heals wounds and spreads love. In the space of all that, humanity thrives. When You Judge Yourself, Practice Compassion Pema Chodron said, “Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.” It’s easy to beat yourself up for failing, not being perfect, or doing things that others laugh at or scorn you for. Don’t. Accept your flaws, your humanity, and practice loving kindness for yourself. Without mistakes and pain, we would not grow. Sometimes the biggest failures are blessings in disguise. If you hide from them, you can’t learn from them. When you let...

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Trends in Mental Health in 2018

Everything is always evolving. There are even trends in mental health. Here are some of the things I am seeing in my practice. Suicide is On The Rise It used to be that a therapist could go her whole career without having a suicide. If her clientele was low risk, she might not even have to deal with suicidal ideation. Suicide is now the 10th leading cause for death in America. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide has increased for all age groups since 2001. If you are having suicidal thoughts, reach out to someone. Many people left behind say that they had no idea their loved one was at risk. Ketamine may help you get over the hump and stabilize you so that you can get on with your life. Clean Food...

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Numbness, Dissociation and Feelings

Do you feel asleep at the wheel? Do you miss subtle cues about what’s true or how people feel that other people seem to “just know?” Are you feeling numb, depressed, or just not here? Maybe it’s because you’re numb or dissociated. You can’t have a full, vibrant life if you are not in your body. You can’t feel if you’re not embodied. How would you know if this is you? Numbness Numbness feels like the absence of sensation. You’re in your body, but it’s not really responding to stimulus. Perhaps you’re at your birthday party. All your friends are there. There is great food, music, and company – all the things that would normally make you happy. Yet, you’re not really feeling anything. You’re not even all that interested in being here. That’s...

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Why Two People Can’t Be in Crisis At the Same Time

Two people can’t be in crisis at the same time because crisis is about survival. When you are struggling for survival, you are worried about your own needs. You can’t be there for someone else no matter how much you really want to be. You won’t hear them when their crying.You won’t see them when they're sad. Even if they ask directly and specifically for what they want, it can feel like they are speaking a foreign language. What happens is each person ends up feeling left out and forgotten. Another thing that happens is that they end up unknowingly triggering each other. When one is emotional, the other may feel his emotion rising in response. When he responds by doing something to keep himself safe, it triggers insecurity in the...

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How to Live a Life of Courage

“Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” ~Winston Churchill Winston Churchill was a brilliant speaker. This is one of my favorite quotes of his because for me, it captures the essence of what it means to have courage. Courage isn’t the ability to live without fear. It’s not even solely the willingness to act despite fear. I mean, how many defeated, tired, old people do we see who keep plodding along though life’s challenges who have the light whipped out of them? I give them credit for being determined, but I wouldn’t call them courageous. No. Courage is the ability to keep a fire in your heart while you keep going. “Cor,” after all, means heart in Latin. So how do you do that? Live like a child. Be in the...

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Living in Circles, Lines, and Spirals

One could say there are three ways to live – in circles, lines, and spirals. The Circle The circle is generally embraced by people who need a high degree of security. The circle represents their comfort zone. They like to keep a high degree of control so not a lot of new things get in. These new things include ideas, people, experiences, and attitudes. When it comes to possessions, new things can come in, but it tends to be hard to let things go, so it can get cluttered in there. Living life in a circle isn’t the most effective strategy because the boundaries are so rigid that there isn’t a lot of growth. When problems occur, they don’t tend to get resolved. They just get shelved or ignored so they come back...

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Acceptance May Not Be What You Think It Is

A lot of “stuckness” could “loosen” if the person feeling stuck could get to a place of acceptance. Acceptance is the first step to moving on. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who resist acceptance because they don’t understand what it means. So let me tell you what acceptance is not. Acceptance is Not Resignation Some people think that if you accept something, you just throw up your hands, put up your feet and live with it. For just one moment, imagine that “now” is a slice of time that is constantly shifting. In each moment of now exists all the power you ever have. You can’t use any power in the moments that have already passes nor any that have not existed yet. Acceptance is about being fully present in this slice. It’s...

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Why It Pays to Be Choosey – Really Choosey!

If you live in the developed world, you’re unimaginably lucky. You can probably get something to eat at any hour of the day. You can eat Mexican food for lunch and Ethiopian for dinner. If you want neon markers, nine inch nails, or an antique lamp, you can probably have it at your doorstep the next day. Doctor, lawyer, or Indian chief – any career path is open to you as well. You can have a house by the water or one in town. It’s all available. For many of us, the ease of acquisition has made us a bit jaded. If you’d like to shake that off, be choosy. Pay attention to how you spend your time and resources. Choose things that matter. Savor them. Let the things in your...

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