• Hazelden Renewal Center

Healing the Invisible Harm of Emotional Cruelty

healing from emotional cruelty

All my life I’ve felt there’s something terribly wrong with me–something I can’t put into words, something that makes me different from everybody else. People say, “Sheila, you are a good person” but I know they don’t really like me. Sometimes I really hate myself. I know you’ll think this is stupid. For the longest time I thought it was the fact that I was adopted that made me feel this way. One day I looked at an old photo of when I first arrived as an infant. I was stunned to see how my father was holding me while … Continue reading

Being Our Brother’s Keeper: A Road to Hope

brother's keeper

These days many of us are having a hard time finding hope. Some of us are overwhelmed by serious personal problems. Others of us live with a foreboding sense of an uncertain future for ourselves and our children. Looming climate change, increasing inequity between rich and poor, and massive dysfunction in our government all add an eerie shakiness to our lives as if we were in the middle of an earthquake. For safety’s sake we don’t know what ground to stand upon. Adding to our gloominess is the increasing ennui and detachment of modern living where friendships are only experienced … Continue reading

When You Want Somebody Else to Change

wanting others to change

When we want somebody else to change we often make mistakes.  We either get too passive and expect change to happen without any effort on our part.  Out of fear of rocking the boat we may excuse another’s behavior by saying “Well that’s just the way the other person is.” Alternatively we may try to strong-arm another into change.  We may use coercion and threats to get someone else to alter their habits. We may declare, “If you don’t change, then such and such terrible thing will happen to you.” Unfortunately neither the passive or aggressive approach works when it … Continue reading

Naivete: Believing Someone Cares About You…When They Really Don’t

naivete

Oh, who among us can forget the wonderful world of childhood innocence?! The world was our oyster. Good overcame evil. We were protected and safe. Life was simple. At least that’s what we thought at the time. Obviously not all of us had such experiences. However those of us who were well protected undoubtedly went through such childhood pretense. Even today as adults, we can still believe in magic. We may dress up for Halloween and eat our children’s candy. We may dance around the Christmas tree wondering how many presents are for us. Just like the good old days. … Continue reading

Helping You and Your Children Have Good Moral Character – Part 2

raising moral children

Editor’s note: In the last issue of The Phoenix Spirit, John Driggs lent his more than 40 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families, to the topic of how to help foster moral character in children. Driggs aptly acknowledged that parents and other caregivers are not wholly responsible on how kids turn out, nor should they take complete credit for their successes. Caregivers do, however, play a major role, and Driggs believes that it’s never too late to improve our relationships and work on building good character. Following is part two of Driggs’ insightful article. What can we … Continue reading

Helping You and Your Children to Have Good Moral Character – Part 1

raising moral children

Most of us parents know how we would like our kids to turn out. They would care about others, generally have a warm heart, be socially accepted by peers, contribute to the greater good of others, treat siblings and family with compassion, be able to forgive, have a backbone and generally be a pleasure to hang out with. Probably all of us want these qualities in our children and ourselves. Many kids — so called “good kids” — are really like this. They really are as good as they seem to be and they continue to be solid family members, … Continue reading

Why Am I Depressed When Everything Is Going Great for Me?

depression when everything going well

“I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I can’t even talk about it anymore. I go for long periods where life is good and I’m fairly happy. I have a great job as an engineer, a reasonably good relationship with my wife and all of our three kids are in college. How could anybody be unhappy with that set up? But then for no reason at all I go into the dumps. I can’t get up when life is good. It’s always been that way in my life. I’ve never been continuously happy. It’s up and … Continue reading

When You Are Parented With Shame

parented with shame

“I’m sorry but I have to cancel our dinner date. I have the flu. I know this is the second time I’ve done this and I wouldn’t blame you one bit if you gave up on me. Or, maybe if you let me pay for dinner next time, we can still be friends. I can’t thank you enough for wanting to get together with me. I’m lucky to have you as a friend. Love ya.” Shame definitely has a place in our lives when we’ve done something wrong or hurt someone else. But it has no place in our lives … Continue reading

Growing Up With Emotionally Detached Parents

emotionally detached parents

I live with my girlfriend in what you might call a mutual arrangement. It’s about all we can handle. Neither one of us wants to be married. We’re both successful career people. It works for us. That is until recently. Last week my girlfriend said she would like to have a baby. I half facetiously asked her, “Well I suppose you want one with me?” Many of her women friends were having their first child and she felt like odd person out. Now raising a child is at the bottom of my list. Neither one of us is into cuddling, … Continue reading

So Just How Important Is a Simple Act of Kindness?

John Driggs

Love is something if you give it away, Give it away, give it away. Love is something if you give it away, You end up having more. It’s just like a magic penny, Hold it tight and you won’t have any. Lend it, spend it, and you’ll have so many They’ll roll all over the floor. — Melvina Reynolds, first verses of the Magic Penny Song, 1949 Most of us think our small act of caring for a neighbor was no big deal, it was just the right thing to do at the time. Few of us even see our … Continue reading