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I was fortunate enough to attend a great seminar taught by psychologist, author, and leadership guru Dr. John Townsend. The focus was on how to be a leader that others would want to follow. Here are the five keys taught by Dr. Townsend.

1. PERSONAL WARMTH:
A.  You can’t really get to know the feelings of those you lead.
B.  Sincere warmth will draw people to you so have empathy.
C.  Take the initiative to move inside the world of other people.
D.  Have a balance of grace and truth in your relationships.
E.  Take the time to be a good 7-minute counselor to folks in need. To do this: Listen  well, Empathize, Offer a brief solution, and then Refer the person to resources beyond you.

2.  VISION ALIGNMENT:
A.  Leaders must guard the vision!
B.  Ensure that every part of the org chart has a person that knows the vision and how they contribute to it through their specific duties.
C.  Over-communicate vision all the time!
D.  Begin every team meeting with, “Here’s what we’re all about”, then share the vision.

3.  VULNERABILITY:

A.  People are drawn to vulnerable leaders who show both their needs and their failures.
B.  People are more likely to identify with a leader who is vulnerable than one that appears “bullet proof”.
C.  When sharing needs and failures, it is best to share examples from one’s professional life, not one’s personal life.

4.  OBSERVABLE EXECUTION:
A.  People need to see a leader leading, so leaders must create dedicated time to be visible.
B.  Leaders need to do rounds into other people’s spaces.
C.  An “open door” policy is a passive position and not good enough. Leaders must take initiative for substantive conversations and interactions.

5.  CANDOR:
A.  This is the truth you give people to help them perform better. Remember to offer both grace and truth.
B.  Do not be afraid of feedback from candor.
C.  Do not “fragilize” people, which is making someone fragile who is not really fragile. This disrespects people and fails to treat them as adults.
D.  Do not be a “conflict avoidant leader”! Adults are resilient and adaptive, and can handle candor!

I learned a lot from Dr. Townsend’s insights and I hope you do, too!

I would love to hear your comments! You can email me at randy@carepossible.org

Websites: www.carepossible.orgwww.thecrossing.com, www.randymoraitis.com

anxiety

Anxiety–A Brief History

Suffer from anxiety?  If so, you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health over 55 million Americans struggle with anxiety.

In a quest for better understanding and relief from anxiety, author Scott Stossel chronicled the history of the evolution of anxiety (Psychology Today, Feb. 2014). Here are the highlights:

4th Century B.C.–Hippocrates describes anxiety as a medical disease caused by “body juices”. Plato and his followers argue that it’s a philosophical problem, not a physical one. This launched an enduring argument between biological and mental approaches.

1862–An anxiety ridden Union soldier is diagnosed with “soldier’s heart”, a precursor to “shell shock” and post-traumatic stress disorder.

1883–The case of a man with an open hole in his stomach sheds light on how emotion affects the digestive system. When the man is anxious, his stomach tissue turns visibly pale.

1899–The Merck Manual (a medical reference book) recommends opium as an anxiety remedy.

1908–Two psychologists connect peak performance with optimal levels of arousal, suggesting that the right balance of anxiety–not too much, not too little–can be helpful during a test or competition.

1959–The New York Times makes the first written reference to antidepressants which paves the way for a surge in pharmacological anxiety treatments.

1980–The 3rd edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is released, replacing Freudian concepts of neurosis with panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other types of anxiety.

2005–The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 18% of American adults have some type of anxiety disorder.

So anxiety is real, it’s been around for thousands of years, and it requires treatment. In my next blog I will give recommendations for those afflicted with anxiety issues. In the meantime you can check out some resources here: http://carepossible.org/resources/

I’d love to hear from you! If you need support with anxiety please contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com. Websites: www.carepossible.com, www.randymoraitis.com.

meditation
By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

In my last blog post (Meditation–Is It Worth My Time?), I shared the many benefits of meditation. As promised, here is a brief introduction on how to meditate.

Harvard, Yale, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and many other reputable organizations have produced research that meditation is a very effective treatment for anxiety, depression, addiction, smoking cessation and weight loss.

If you’d like to reap the benefits of meditation, then simply follow the steps below and you will be on your way.

Please keep in mind that it is a process. We don’t get fit the first time we work out at a gym. We have to work out regularly. In the same way, meditation should be done daily or several times per week to see results. So don’t get frustrated if you do not feel much different after the first few attempts!

Meditating

  • Find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted for ten minutes.
  • Sit in a chair with your back straight and your hands resting on your knees or lap.
  • Relax your neck and shoulders.
  • Let your eyes unfocus and simply gaze into the middle distance.
  • Take 5 deep breaths–in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  • Close your eyes on the last exhale.
  • Start to notice your body–your posture, the sensations where your body touches the chair and feet touch the ground.
  • Become mindful of your senses–notice all that you can hear, taste or smell. Don’t worry about noises that you may hear.
  • Now scan your body from head to toe and notice any tension or discomfort.
  • Scan again this time noticing which body parts feel relaxed.
  • Become aware of your thoughts–simply notice them–you can’t turn them off, so don’t worry about them–just be aware.
  • Notice your breathing–are the breaths shallow or deep? Strive for deeper, relaxed breathing for about 5 minutes.
  • Become aware of your physical sensations–the chair, feet on the floor, hands in your lap, anything your senses can observe.
  • Open your eyes slowly and calmly continue with your day. Try to keep this awareness (mindfulness) with you in all you do.

Over time, you will find yourself being present more with family, friends, work, and other moments throughout the day.

Modification–you may find it very helpful and uplifting to meditate on a particular verse, proverb, phrase or quote that encourages or inspires you. Meditate on the phrase during the 5 minute focused breathing section above.

The key to successful meditation is to take it slow and be consistent!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Email: randy@randymoraitis.com
Websites: www.randymoraitis.com, www.carepossible.com

By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CPC

Do you ever feel stressed out? Has anyone ever told you to “chill out”? If so, then it’s time you considered meditation as part of your daily routine.

Numerous highly regarded studies have shown that just 10 minutes of daily meditation can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, fight autoimmune diseases, and improve your attitude towards, and quality of, life.

Dr. Herbert Benson, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, says, “You should be meditating every day.” That is quite a call to action from one of our nation’s leading physicians!

This is because our every day stressors from work, family, and society evoke a fight-or-flight response which increases our heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. But because we are not actually always running and fighting our body doesn’t use the hormones produced from the stress.

Dr. Benson states that these unused hormones put us at risk for a variety of diseases and conditions including anxiety, depression, insomnia, infertility, heart attacks, strokes, and more.

Dr. Benson claims that we can negate the fight-or-flight response by developing our “relaxation response”, which he claims can be done through repetitive prayer, Yoga, and of course meditation.

Meditation is great for you mental health, your spiritual health, even your physical health–but did you know that meditation can also be great for your financial health? According to a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension patients who regularly practiced meditation had a 28% decrease in physician fees.

It’s your health and your wallet, but the facts are clear–spending 10 minutes a day meditating may be the best investment you ever make!

Don’t know how to meditate? No worries! In my next blog post I will teach the basics and get you started. It’s easier than you think. In the meantime, click here for a relaxation technique that will definitely help you chill out.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Has meditation helped you?
Email: randy@randymoraitis.com
Websites: www.thecrossing.com, www.randymoraitis.com, www.carepossible.com

 

According to new data published in the world’s leading general medical journal The Lancet, mental and substance use disorders were the leading causes of illness worldwide in 2010.

Harvey A. Whiteford, MD, of the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland, Australia, and colleagues wrote, “These disorders were responsible for more of the global burden than were HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, diabetes, or transport injuries.”

Overall, mental and substance use disorders were the fifth leading cause of premature death and disease worldwide, and accounted for 22.9% of all nonfatal illness — more than any other disease!This is an alarming trend and in a press release Dr. Whiteford said, “barriers to mental health care must be addressed to reduce the global prevalence of mental and substance use disorders.”

A second study published alongside Dr. Whiteford’s stated that opioid dependence was responsible for the greatest burden of disease among all illicit drugs, accounting for 55% of the 78,000 deaths linked to drug use in 2010. The study also showed that more than two-thirds of individuals dependent on drugs were male — 64% each for cannabis and amphetamines and 70% each for opioids and cocaine, and the proportion of drug dependence increased in the highest-income countries.

What can you do to address the barriers to mental health and addiction treatment?

  • Get educated. We cannot fix what we do not understand.
  • Early intervention. If you or someone you know needs treatment for mental health or substance abuse issues, do all you can to encourage immediate treatment and research the treatment options.
  • Remove the stigma. Mental health and addiction issues should be looked at as disease, not personal failing. Surround these issues with support, not stigma or negativity.

To learn more or to help break through the barrier to treatment that so many face, visit www.carepossible.org. CarePossible is a nonprofit focused on making mental health care and addiction treatment possible for everyone.

I would love to hear from you. Please contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com. Websites: www.thecrossing.com and www.randymoraitis.com.

depression

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Depression is a very common problem. Approximately 10% of the US population, over 30 million Americans, suffer from depression–but most could be successfully treated. The first step towards healing is to know the symptoms of depression.

Here are the symptoms so you can tell if you, or someone you care about, may have clinical depression:

There is an mnemonic that mental health professionals use to list the symptoms:

SIGECAPS.

S—SADNESS—the first, most obvious symptom–more than just the blues or a funk, but a deep sadness.

S—SLEEP—some with depression have difficulty sleeping, especially between 2-4am, others with depression want to sleep all the time. They’d rather sleep than participate in life.

I—INTERESTS—the person is no longer interested in doing what were once their favorite activities.

G—GUILT—feeling guilty can contribute to depression.

E—ENERGY—feeling like you have no energy is a common symptom of depression. It feels like the wind was knocked out of your sails.

C—CONCENTRATION—people with depression find it very hard to focus so they have trouble with work or schoolwork. Their poor performance leads to more problems which can perpetuate the depression.

A—APPETITE—a sudden change in appetite is a common symptom with depression. 1 in 4 people gain weight, 3 in 4 lose weight—we see this a lot with people going through a painful divorce—the divorce diet.

P—PSYCHO-MOTOR ABNORMALITIES—for example when you’re depressed it may feel like you’re moving in slow motion.

S—SUICIDAL THOUGHTS—very common—and if you or someone you know ever has suicidal thoughts, especially if there is a time and a method—like “I am going to take pills tonight at midnight”—call 911 immediately!

For someone to be diagnosed with clinical depression, they need to have 5 or more of these 9 symptoms for 2 weeks or longer. If you think you may have depression, then make an appointment with a doctor or counselor today. There is hope for healing, so take the first step today!

If you or a loved one are affected by depression, please reach out for help today. Email: randy@randymoraitis.com
Phone: 949.303.8264
Websites: www.randymoraitis.com or www.carepossible.org

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!)

Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

christmas family

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

The holidays are rapidly approaching and most of us have this ideal image of how we want our family lives to be full of joy and peace during this special time of year. This ideal is challenging enough in traditional family systems, but for those who are in a step-family system peace during the holidays can seem like an unattainable fantasy.

These days almost everyone is somehow connected to a step-family system whether in our own home or in the home of our relatives. You may have step-kids, step-grandchildren, step-nieces or nephews, or even get a new step-parent once you are already an adult if one of your parents remarries. If so, then you are
part of what’s called a step-family system.

Step-family systems can be very challenging. Step-families are often referred to as blended families because the hope is to blend two families together. The term “blended family” can be a little misleading as it implies that the two families blend together quickly like a smoothie in your kitchen blender.

The reality is that life in a step-family is more like using a crock-pot, than a blender. In a crock-pot it takes a long, slow time for something to cook. Step-families can take some time to get to a place of peace and harmony in the home.

Here are three quick tips to help step-families get on a healthy path during the holidays. Whether you are part of a step family system, or are someone who works with kids and families, these are great tips for you to know, share, and apply to make our families happier and healthier.

1. Have Extra Grace—The first rule of step-families is to have extra grace! That means to be more
forgiving on a daily basis. There are so many stressful issues inherent in step-families that it is imperative for step-family members to have an overall attitude of extra grace in their homes.

The parents must decide to create a culture of extra grace in their home, and then teach it to their children. And the parents must model the extra grace rule. It is very common that your step children will get under your skin faster and more frequently than your biological children. When you are aware of that tendency, it is easier to control it and exercise grace. A home filled with extra grace is a home where families can begin to blend together in a healthy way.

2. Discipline with Wisdom—In a step family system, discipline dispensed with wisdom goes a long way towards creating the best possible family environment. When step-parents discipline their step-child, this creates a great deal of resentment that may fester over time, be very difficult to overcome, and be a drain on the peace and harmony in the home.

When a child misbehaves and discipline is necessary both parents should discuss the situation and come to an agreement on the proper course of action behind closed doors. They then address the child with the biological parent stating what the discipline is, and the step-parent standing right behind the biological parent showing their support for the decision and their spouse.

Quick example: Billy, who lives with his stepdad and biological mom, stays out thirty minutes past curfew. Step-dad thinks Billy should be grounded for two weeks; mom thinks Billy should lose his cellphone
for a day. Stepdad and mom need to discuss, and perhaps compromise a little, on the course of action, but they have to do it behind closed doors or else Billy will try to divide and conquer if he sees them arguing. Once the decision is made, mom and stepdad approach Billy, with Mom in front doing the talking and
stepdad standing right behind her. Mom lays down the law and stepdad shows his strong support for her.

3. Create New Family Traditions—When two families come together each one has had family traditions in their past that are so important and dear to their hearts. While it is important to honor and respect those past traditions, it is wise to start some new family traditions that are unique to the new blended family.

New family traditions can include family movie nights, family game nights, or a new sport or other activity. And of course the holidays are a great time to start a new family tradition. Some new decorations, a special meal, attending a Christmas Eve service, a snow day, there are numerous possibilities. Be creative and have fun with it…you may be starting something that will last for generations!Happy Holidays to you and your family!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to randy@randymoraitis.com or call 949-303-8264.
Websites: www.carepossible.orgwww.randymoraitis.com.

About Randy Moraitis
Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!) Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

forgive
Have you ever been hurt? Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Have you ever had someone close let you down? Have you ever been a victim? Have you ever had someone you love break your heart?

If you have, I am so sorry you experienced that, and I am glad you are reading this because I want to help you get over that hurt. To get to a place of forgiveness.

Forgiving those who have hurt us, who have violated our trust, who have broken our hearts, who have damaged us…maybe done unspeakable things to us…well, it seems so unfair and unnatural

What if the other person isn’t sorry? Or what if they’re not even alive anymore? How can we forgive them? And why should we?

Let’s look at the “why” first. When you forgive someone, it is not for them. It is for you. Having forgiveness as a part of your life is good for your mental, physical, and spiritual health. The Stanford Forgiveness Project clearly showed that there are numerous benefits to forgiveness

Keep in mind that forgiving someone does not mean that you forget what he or she did or that you excuse what they did. It also does not mean that you must reconcile with the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is not about the other person—it is about you.

When you forgive, you experience healing. There is a great quote that says, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was YOU.” (Lewis B. Smedes)

So how do you forgive?

1. It starts with a decision. You wrap your mind around how forgiveness is a healthy choice that will bring you freedom and healing, and then you decide to do it. You take ownership for forgiving. Oftentimes we have problems, stress, and unhealthiness in our lives because we do not take ownership of our issues. We do not own our business, our stuff. Own the decision to forgive the person who hurt you.

2. The second step is to be honest about the hurt. Don’t minimize it. Don’t live in denial. Don’t blame yourself. And don’t make excuses for the person who hurt you.

It is OK to get angry when working through forgiveness. That is part of the process. Everything on your “unforgiven” list represents something that was lost or taken from you. In order to have forgiveness for painful hurts, we need to start by grieving the loss. We do that by acknowledging the anger and the sadness.

Do not stuff the hurts. Be honest with yourself, and even consider talking with a counselor or therapist who will provide you with a safe place to process the pain and anger. If you do harbor any unforgiveness, perhaps today is the day you can begin to experience the healing and freedom you need and deserve. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

I would love to hear your thoughts–randy@randymoraitis.com. www.randymoraitis.com www.thecrossing.com.