Health & Wellness Blog

Finding True Belonging

Written by Dr. Lee Hildebrand

What is True Belonging?

Many of us go through life seeking meaning in relationships. We seek to be understood, to be accepted, to be seen for who we are without judgement. We seek love. Often, this pursuit can seem daunting as we experience situations and relationships that fall short of this ideal. True belonging is something that most of us yearn for in our families, our significant relationships, our friendships, and in our community. Simply, it is a sense that we belong. It is a sense that we are accepted and valued as we are. It is a sense that those around us are truly interested in who we are. True belonging is permission to be transparent with another about who we are beyond pretense. True belonging involves a deep-down sense that those that are offering this belonging truly understand the nature of who we are.

From childhood to adolescence, and into adulthood we seek this state of belonging. Often, it may feel like panning for gold as we sift through the sand of relationships which do not deliver this prized state of being. Some relationships become “fool’s gold” replicas that initially seem to promise the real thing and fall far short. When we experience true belonging in a relationship, we know it. We feel joy in the sense of experiencing unconditional love and a positive regard which reassures us at the core. Unfortunately, like water in the desert, many of us spend a lifetime seeking this precious resource only to find a remnant here or there that keep us moving forward in the search.

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Confronting Shame

Written by Dr. Lee Hildebrand

What is Underlying Shame?

Many of us walk through our days trying to survive. We’re stressed and we’re trying to cope with a multitude of pressures coming our way, while simultaneously trying to maintain an impression for others,” that everything is OK.” Meanwhile, there sits deep inside us a pervasive fear that we are not enough. A fear that we are impostors. A fear that if anyone else knew how truly insecure we were about measuring up that they would conclude that we are defective. Many of us look in the mirror and find little about our bodies that we’re satisfied with. We see ourselves as too fat, too wrinkly, too short, or too small in certain areas. We are brutal in our assessments of our self. We sometimes level scrutiny at ourselves for being too emotional, too sensitive, and potentially too vulnerable. Some of us have a pervasive fear that if we are seen as we truly are, that others will be aghast at what they see. So, we guard ourselves against the purview of others.

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Navigating Your Boundaries with Social Media

Written by Dr. Jeanine Swenson

One thing that I enjoy about our modern world is all of the new and interesting ways we have to communicate. As the great family therapist, Murray Bowen, once said,” Communication is always happening.” But I have noticed how much one can learn and understand about family dynamics from the way and frequency in which someone shares thoughts and feelings, especially through social media.

I ask myself a question as both a therapist and a friend when I am on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In or other forms of social media. What do these posts tell me about the person’s boundaries, or willingness to take in and give out information? I raise this question because of the extremely large number of problem conversations I have with clients, families, and friends about conflict related to social media posting.

The term boundaries is a fairly new idea, developed by psychologists, therapists, and other doctors in the 1990s to describe the interface between what separates you from the outside world. One generally has personal boundaries and relationship boundaries. Sometimes friends or loved ones may divulge information about fairly sensitive areas through social media like politics, sexuality, or money without even realizing their boundaries. If this is a concern with someone you know, how comfortable are you addressing these items in a face-to-face conversation?

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Healthy Boundaries in Marriage

Written by Dr. Lee Hildebrand

What are Boundaries

Boundaries are important both personally and in relationships. They are limits that we set for ourselves as individuals in terms of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in regard to how others relate to us. They protect our personal sense of individuality and sense of "self" so that we are not overrun by the demands and expectations of others. A sense of yourself as an independent person with freedoms, responsibilities, and limits is essential to engaging in a healthy relationship. In marriage, it is crucial to be a whole and complete person in order to engage in a mutually interdependent relationship with your spouse.

Understand Misconceptions about Intimacy

In the 90s movie, Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise gives the famous line to Renée Zellweger, "you complete me" proclaiming his view about their relationship. This is an inspiring movie line and can seem like the ideal for many of us in regard to romantic love. However, believing or expecting that another human being will complete us emotionally can be an unhealthy and unrealistic expectation. A healthy marriage consists of two complete and independent adults who seek to share all of what life has to offer together. If you seek the other person to complete you, that each emotion that your spouse has must be yours too, that when your spouse is upset that you must be upset too, that it is your responsibility to make them happy, then an enmeshed relationship is the result. Marriage partners that are "too close" and completely rely on one another for their well-being have an enmeshed relationship with little room to breathe. In contrast, marriage partners that have no awareness of the other person's needs, few mutual hobbies, little time together, and little sense of emotional connectedness are on the opposite end of the spectrum in an estranged relationship.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Written by Dr. Lee Hildebrand

Feeling Down in the Winter: You May Have Seasonal Affective Disorder

Do you feel a bit down during the winter months versus the warm weather months? You may be feeling the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. During the months of winter, people can experience the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a condition which can lead to periods of depression. The underlying cause of SAD is not entirely clear. However, researchers speculate that variations in a hormone called melatonin may be related to the condition. Melatonin assists in sleep cycle regulation and mood. The lack of light during winter months can have a direct effect on melatonin levels and result in symptoms of depression.

Who Is Prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect from 1 percent to nearly 10 percent of the population. People living in northern climates within the US may have a higher risk because of particularly short days. The symptoms of SAD can consist of depressed mood, low energy, and difficulty with concentration. Women have been shown to be more prone to the disorder than men and people with SAD usually have at least one family member with a history of depression.

Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Full-spectrum light therapy has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of SAD. Light therapy was first identified as a potential treatment for this condition in the 1980s. Since, light boxes have been designed that mimic sunlight by emitting full-spectrum light (light with a variety of wavelengths). These boxes have been utilized and shown to be effective in the treatment of depression related to SAD. Often, 30-minute daily sessions of light therapy result in measurable positive outcomes. This can be done in a comfortable chair and include reading, watching TV, or other activities that can be enjoyed while sitting beneath the full spectrum light. Light boxes can be obtained by numerous companies online and the treatment can be self-administered in the comfort of one’s home environment. A psychologist or counselor can assist with the accurate diagnosis and distinction of SAD from other types of depression.