Posts Categorized: Posts About Mojo

Strategy for Surviving Emotional Pain: Part II

We make plans for vacations, for the future, for our career and for our kids. But what about making plans for surviving heart ache? If you find yourself in a season of loss or relationship turmoil, having a survival strategy is key. You may not be able to make the pain go away or the relationship better, but you can figure out how to survive it and get through to a better season.

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Last week, I wrote about the Two Key Strategies to Survive Emotional Pain, and today I am breaking down those strategies into practical, doable bites.

Disappointments, break ups and unexpected tragedies can leave you feeling devastated and lost. Everyone goes through challenges and difficulties, but not everyone knows what to do with themselves when difficulty comes. When you experience a season of loss, choosing the right coping strategies makes all the difference.


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  1. Distraction: Distracting your brain from internal psychic pain is a necessary tool during recovery. Some people see distraction as a cop out with temporary results. However, distracting the brain from it’s anxious worry or rehearsal of past events, is actually a very healthy way to deal with trauma, loss and pain. When used as a temporary break from the problem, distraction is a useful tool. Examples of healthy distraction are watching a movie, going to work, reading a book, working on a project, exercise class, etc.
  2. Contribution: Using your energy to contribute to someone else’s well being is a positive way to cope while experiencing your own distress. Finding ways to help, encourage, care for or give to other people can provide a sense of control, purpose and meaning.
  3. Prioritize Problems: Choosing one problem to work on at a time is an effective way to address stress from work, relationships, and child raising. Trying to tackle all the problems at once becomes self-defeating. However, selecting one problem at a time helps you get unstuck and in gear.
  4. Self Sooth: Taking time to sooth yourself throughout the day is not indulgent. In fact, it is smart. People who take a minute three times a day to do something self-soothing are happier, stronger and more effective. This could be any small action like lighting a candle, listening to nice music, taking a walk, breathing in fresh air, petting a dog, holding a baby, taking a shower, rubbing your temples, or using essential oils. Consistent attention to self care makes the body and brain feel better.
  5. Gratitude: Noticing things that you are thankful for begins an attitude shift from insufficiency to sufficiency. Instead of focusing on the loss, the grief, the hole, or the things you don’t have, focus and give thanks for the things you do have. Practicing gratitude is a form of mindfulness and establishes a mind of peace.
  6. Mastery: Putting energy into proficiency and competency can help treat grief, loss, trauma and psychic pain. Whether it be practicing tennis, a new language, yoga, or learning to cook, mastery of skills is a way for the brain to focus and be rewarded. It’s harder, but better.
  7. Pleasure: Experiencing pleasure is a distraction technique used to ward off overwhelming feelings. Pleasure can come from a latte, a visit to a park, an orgasm or a good discount at your favorite store. It is important to give yourself small pleasures, and permission to enjoy that pleasure while you are recovering from difficult times.
  8. Creativity: Allowing yourself to create something new affects the pleasure centers of the brain. It’s like medicine. Whether it is writing a song, coloring a picture, making an album, planting a garden, or trying a new recipe, creating is good for the soul.


When you are recovering from something hard, devastating or traumatic, it is important to use that recovery time to do things that are helpful and good for you. It may be tempting to fall into negative patterns, (drinking, extra-marital relationships, over spending, etc.) but small helpful choices go a long way in helping you get your life back.

These Survival Strategies are like vitamins, that when taken and practiced over time, can produce remarkable results. There are no quick fixes to psychological pain, heart break or loss. However, there is a pathway through the pain, and there is hope for the journey.

The Curse of the World Changer: Self-Doubt

“What if I made the wrong decision? What if I am on the wrong path? What if all of this, is just a bad mistake?” Patricia sat on the couch and verbalized what she’d been stewing for weeks. She had just made some giant changes in her career and she worried that somehow she had screwed everything up.

Patricia is not the only one who wonders this. Anyone who takes a risk at any level experiences fears of the unknown and of immobilizing self-doubt. Those of us who challenge the status quo because we believe in something better will ultimately stumble with self-doubt. I primarily work with people during crossroads stages in their lives, and after 18 years in this profession, I have noticed patterns emerge. Those folks who are determined to change their world for the better take extraordinary personal and professional risk to accomplish their goals. They say the hard things, they hear the hard things, and they make necessary sacrifices. They stand up for what is right and what they believe. They listen to the truth, even if it hurts. They resist the path of least resistance.


There are many crossroads decisions in our lives, some big and some small. But the self-doubt that plagues World Changers can stop you in your tracks, if you let it. I’ve seen self-doubt immobilize World Changers to the point of bewilderment. Just when they are making great strides, knocking down giants, and conquering goals, a wave of self-doubt hits them and sets them back. These motivated, spirited world changers get sidelined with fears, responsibilities, guilt, and doubt. They struggle to move through it, putting one foot in front of the other.

Fear is at the Root of Self Doubt


Some of the most resilient and get-er-done people I know get sideline by fear and self-doubt. Here are the things you might be afraid of.

What World Changers are Afraid Of

  • Afraid of your own potential: What if you fulfilled your purpose and potential in this life?
  • Afraid you can’t do it on your own. I know, I’ve been here too. I think things like, “But I don’t know enough to reach that goal,” or “I don’t have enough _____ to make that happen.”
  • Afraid you will be a disappointment. You wonder if you will disappoint others, God and yourself.
  • Afraid that God isn’t as good as He says He is. Another version of this is, Afraid God doesn’t love me as much as I hoped he did.
  • Afraid you’ve made a mistake: You wonder if the mistakes you’ve made are so irreparable that you won’t be able to recover.
  • Afraid of being insignificant: You wonder if your life will add up to a whole lot of nothing, and the things that you put your time and effort into just flop.

These fears are common to those people who put themselves out there, take risks and change the world around them. When World Changers make a change in their life, it comes with risk, sacrifice, and increased vulnerability. When you’re doing something big, something hard, and something good, be prepared for external and internal challenge. It’s normal. Ask yourself…

  • How do I respond to challenge?
  • Where do I give my power away?
  • What is taking more from me, than it’s giving?
  • Where do I need to ask for help?
  • What do I want to grow?

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As you ask yourself these questions, keep in mind that anytime you are doing big things, or making big changes, you will be challenged, tempted and delayed. That is just part of the process. How you respond to these challenges, temptations and delays is the key. Here are some ways that World Changers respond.

Things That World Changers Do

  • Align with Reality: You have a solid grasp of what is true and what is not. You are not interested in worst case scenarios, wishful thinking, someone to rescue you, or the fantasy. You do your research and you deal in reality. You’re big enough to handle the truth even if it’s hard to hear. Truth is sacred.
  • Blue Book Buyer: My dad carried around a little blue book that gave the current value of any car, anywhere and anytime. The Blue Book would tell him how much something was worth. You are a World Changer, if you know your value. You don’t sell yourself short, or value others more or less than yourself. You don’t stick around if someone is not valuing you, and you don’t use other people for your own personal gain. People are valuable.
  • Leaving behind what is good, to go after what is best. You are willing to take a risk for yourself. This is very important. You could stay status quo, but you know there is more to life than the easy life. You trust yourself to know that life is about taking risks, making hard decisions, and pushing past fears. There is a better way.
  • Get Out While the Gettin’s Good: If something is harmful, abusive, wicked or wrong, you know to separate yourself from it to protect yourself and the others around you. Even if leaving comes with loss, cutting your losses earlier is better. You know that harmful behavior is not supposed to be ignored or pacified. You know that bullies should have consequences. Even if abuse is what you have known in your past or present, you are not willing to let it be a part of your future. You are worth more.
  • Pick the Right Pain: If you are a World Changer, then you know the difference between the pain of injury, and the pain of growth. World Changers know that injurious pain should be avoided, and growing pain should be embraced. The reality is that you cannot choose a pain free life. However, you can choose the type of pain you experience. World Changers choose the kind of pain that results in strength, growth, wisdom and future goals. Use pain to your advantage.

If you are experiencing a lot of self doubt, chances are that you are about to embark on a sizable change for the good.



Ten Secrets to Understanding Entrepreneur Depression: and What to do About Them

If you’re reading this, it’s because you or someone you love is a bright, talented, motivated person with big ideas… and possibly at risk for depression too. If you’re familiar with entrepreneurism, and the personality that often accompanies it, you’ll know that failures common to entrepreneurialism can cause depression. 

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Entrepreneurs often feel alone in their endeavors, their challenges, and yes, even their emotional ups and downs. They recognize they are a little different. They know they are not like the rest. They are a little more driven, a little more obsessed and a little less content than the average person.  However, every strength twins as a weakness. Every positive has it’s negative. And every driven, high performing, hard-working entrepreneur has a down side. Often that down side is depression. Here are the top 10 problems common to entrepreneurs that lead to depression, and steps to turn it around.

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Top 10 Problems Common to Entrepreneurs

1.      Feigned optimism. Entrepreneurs need others to believe in them for their ventures to succeed. Often, they don’t feel like they can show doubts, fears or insecurities because it will lead others to doubt. Hiding these feelings compounds them and makes them worse.

2.      Impossible Goal Conflict. Entrepreneurs feel damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They feel trapped into the impossible task of making investors, employees and family happy, often feeling like they fail at all three.

3.      Future Tripping: Entrepreneurs’ minds may frequently review all the worst-case scenarios, trying to find imaginary solutions to things that never actually happen. Resting, meditating or staying in the present actually feels lazy and unproductive to them. Unfortunately, future tripping is a fast track to a depression crash.

4.      Musterbation: Entrepreneurs often feel a sense of being over responsible for too many things and to too many people. These things are largely out of their control, but they try to control them anyway. Their impossible expectations of perfection sound like, “I must be my best,” and  “I must make the right decision,” and “I must not let them down.” They musterbate themselves into a hole, leaving little energy for creative problem solving.

5.      Rumination: Regret can be a real killer if it is not effectively used for forward learning. Entrepreneurs have to collect a few failures under their belt in order to qualify as real entrepreneurs, right? But belaboring those failures can negate their usefulness.

6.      Chronic Anxiety: Acute stress is the reaction to an immediate threat and is considered desirable as it primes your brain for peak performance. But Chronic, unresolved stress increases the stress hormone cortisol and affects brain functioning, and can increase the occurrence of mood disorders and physical illness. Entrepreneurs can go from one stressor to the next without taking necessary time to debrief.

7.      Risky Business: The challenge is what excites the entrepreneur, but an environment fraught with interminable risk of failure can haunt the most positive among us. Starting a new business often requires a serious amount of debt in the beginning. The pressure of being indebted can take entrepreneurs to their breaking point.

8.      PTSD. Seriously. I’m not even joking. Once an entrepreneur has tasted painful, dream wrecking failure, traumatic residue is left behind making current risk seem bigger, scarier and insurmountable. But the scale of the current problem is a lot less than the scale of the emotional reaction.

9.      Hypomanic Let Downs: Sometimes entrepreneurs’ ambitious, little-to-no-sleep, hyperactive, get-er-done high life comes down. Down off the high. Whether it’s after a launch, or after a great accomplishment or a less than fantastic result, the high ends in a low. They leave their team, they go home, and the let down is real.

10.   Isolation and Lack of support: It’s no surprise to an entrepreneur that it’s lonely at the top. And at the bottom too, for that matter. They feel like they don’t have a “trusted someone” to talk things over with, or who truly understands the pressure.

Well, that list was depressing.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that the same passions that drive you, can consume you too. It’s necessary to put those passions outside of yourself just long enough to take care of yourself. Here’s how.

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So What Should You Do to Cope?

  1. The older, the wiser and the more seasoned among us would say, “Take a One-Day-at-a-Time approach.”
  2. Be honest about the way you’re feeling. You can be honest about your insecurities and still be strong. Seriously. It’s a thing.
  3. Instead of musterbating and ruminating, take a day to play. Do something enjoyable, for Pete’s sake. Remember, you’re not God so you don’t have to be perfect.
  4. Instead of anxiously asking yourself, “What if this happens,” or “what if that happens,” tell yourself, “Whatever happens, I’ll be able to handle it. I’ve done hard things before, I can do hard things again.”
  5. Anxiety kills creativity.  So instead of fueling chronic stress, treat it to a doctor’s visit.
  6. When in doubt, run it out. Remember physical exercise is your brain’s friend. And you like your brain. You want it to work well.
  7. Meditate. This is a skill that can be taught and learned, and can rejuvenate a tired mind.
  8. Self-worth doesn’t equal net worth. Be kind to yourself before you’re a success. Don’t make self-love conditional on your success.
  9. PTSD requires a skilled clinician to treat it well. Treatment doesn’t have to take months and months. Depending on the circumstance, PTSD can be treated relatively quickly.
  10. Reach out to others in similar boats. Tell your story, and let them tell theirs. Make sure you are actively involved with other people who have similar passions and experiences. Spending time together will help you recharge.

I’ve talked with brilliant, motivated, skilled people who, because of facing too many failures too many times, started to consider suicide as a way out. One man told me that his experience of bankruptcy felt so hopeless and humiliating, it drove him to consider ending his life. His thoughts truly scared him. He didn’t know he could drop so low, but he had. It was then, that he reached out to a counselor and some family members about how he was feeling. He took a bold step to get the help he needed. Today, he is running a very successful business and is just about ready to sell it for 20 times the amount he started with.

If you are an entrepreneur and have faced feelings of depression, I hope you know you are in good company.The world needs your creativity, your vibrancy and your stick-to-it-tive-ness. Don’t let another day go by without giving yourself the support you need.

Keep the Vision Alive, Even If It Seems Impossible

Have you ever felt like a situation was so hopeless that it would never get better? Like something was so far gone that nothing could restore it? In business, one might say it’s time to “cut your losses.” In fishing, one might say, “find a new fishing hole.” Miners find a new claim. But what about a life? A relationship? A dream?

In the late 1800s, when horse drawn carriages delivered gloved and corseted maidens to high tea, and silk hatted gentlemen bet on horse races, Robert Butchart was making his family fortune mining limestone on Vancouver Island, Canada. Limestone was a main ingredient for cement and Butchart’s Canadian quarry supplied the Portland Cement company with what it wanted. This cement was used for the developing infrastructure of cities and buildings all over the world. Mining metals, gems, oil and ore has been the backbone of development and progress for centuries, but as you may know, leaves the land spent- gouged- barren and scarred.

By 1904, Robert had made his fortune mining, but depleted his Vancouver site’s limestone resources. The extracting process was about to be replaced by the planting process.

Robert and his wife, Jenny not only built their mine on this resourceful property, it was also the land on which they built their family home. After shutting down the quarry, something remarkable happened.  An unprecedented plan for refurbishing the massive and exhausted pit was devised. I would have loved to been there for the conversation between the two of them. Maybe Jennie said something like, “You had your turn, and I thank you for it. Now, I’ll take my turn.”

Jenny got to work. They ordered tons of top soil from nearby farmland to line the floor of the used-up quarry. They hired hundreds of gardeners to carry out the work, and spent years designing one of the most beautiful places on earth. Under Jenny Butchart’s supervision, the quarry was reborn as a garden. And what a spectacular garden!

I’ve visited three times now, and never tire of it. The flowers, the life, the creativity- yes- these things are breathtaking. But it’s the story of the thing for me. It’s the story that keeps me coming back. What was once a devastated, used, bombed out, chiseled up, abused piece of hillside is now a paradise for everyone. What was gutted and used for forward progress could have been left that way. But someone loved it enough to restore it. Someone could see it’s potential for beauty even through the scars. Jenny Butchart dreamed of what it could be and worked tirelessly until she achieved her vision.

Jenny’s dream was nothing short of divinely inspired, and if you have visited Butchart gardens, you have experienced what I mean. The gardens are massive, incorporating not only the quarry itself, but  expanding to the edge of the sea side. Once the quarry was refurbished, Jenny continued her plan with new gardens- a Japanese garden, an Italian garden, a Rose garden.

Are there parts of your life that have been scarred by the hands of someone else? Maybe those wounds were unintended or even well- intentioned, but the hurt happened anyway. Are their disappointments, traumas or losses that have left you exhausted, spent or scarred? Maybe it’s time for a new dream. Maybe it’s time to cast a vision for yourself that restores and refurbishes what has been taken.

Steps to Refurbishment:

  • Dare to Dream Better– I don’t know what Jenny was thinking all those years ago, but I know she could see passed what was to what could be. She dared to dream more than what her reality presented to her. We, like Jenny can focus on potential.
  • Dare to Dream Bigger– Jenny and Robert could have stopped when their fortune was amassed and their quarry was empty. But they had bigger plans. We like Jenny, can focus on the opportunity that reality presents us instead of the problem.
  • Dare to Start Small– hauling dirt probably didn’t seem any more exciting then than it does now. But a foundation of fertile soil was the needed first step. Taking the first step to accomplish your dream is often the hardest and dirtiest. Any good gardener knows it takes way more dirt than you ever thought it would. Don’t give us, keep haling dirt until you’re ready.
  • Dare to Keep at It– I can imagine that Jenny’s dream of one giant English garden looked like a messy mud pit for a good portion of the starting stages, but I have a feeling she kept the vision alive through the dirty years until it was planting time. We, like Jenny, must keep the vision in our mind’s eye even when our reality doesn’t look anything like the dream.

What do YOU want in 2017?

Good Morning to the Late Night Partiers and the In-By-Tens, Happy New Year! Is it is ok if I ask you a personal question? That’s what I do best, right? Sometimes we think about every body else before ourselves, so I’d like to help you start your new year off right by asking you this one thing…

What do you want in 2017?


Often, we don’t let ourselves dream or hope because we fear possible disappointment or failure, thinking if we don’t try, then at least we won’t fail. But the opposite is true; if we never dream, or hope or try something new, then we won’t know the happiness of a dream realized. Here are a few questions to spark your imagination.

What do you want for your relationships? The relationship we have with people we love are seldom easy to manage but can offer a great deal of love and comfort if managed well. Managing relationships well takes courage to set strong boundaries, humility to admit wrong, ability to forgive freely, and vulnerability to communicate intimately. It forces us to face our own fear of abandonment and offer an open hand to someone with no guarantee of getting love in return. The fear of abandonment is real, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm you. What do you want for your relationships this year? For me, more laughter- at life, at coincidences, at silly mistakes, at myself, at God’s big miracles, and certainly in the face of fear. I want more laughter in my relationships.

What do you want for yourself? Maybe you know that something is missing from your life; like a passion, or healthy self care, or friendship, or spiritual connection. Sometimes we can be so routine and scheduled that we don’t pay attention to the small voice inside ourselves that needs to be heard. I find that when I pay attention to what my heart is saying, and I intentionally mull it over, something new and beautiful is created. My relationship with myself is restored, and so is my joy. What do you want for yourself this year? For me, I want to feel strong in 2017. That will include physical, spiritual and mental exercise- but if the right music is playing, I can do just about anything. 🙂


What do you want for your profession? Psychologists, gurus and wise old ladies all agree that meaningful work gives a sense of accomplishment, confidence and fulfillment. Acknowledging that our work is important and necessary helps us to find gratitude for even the most mundane or frustrating sides to our profession. What do you want for your professional, working self? More freedom, more flexibility to create, more structure, more cooperation, more education, more incentive? For me, the addition of an art/play therapy room will bring new creativity and expression to my counseling practice.


What do you want to say no to? This may be my favorite question to answer! Whether it is unrealistic expectations, or compromising principles, or personal disrespect or emotional vampires, or menial time-sucks- maybe it is time to give yourself permission to say no. Change things up. Try a new path. Practice saying “no” to the distractions and nonsense, and “yes” to what is really important. For me, I am saying no to the silly distractions that suck up my time. I will also be saying no to difficult-to-deal-with, low paying third party payers. (Shazam!)

Let me know how you answered- I want to hear your goals for 2017! Can I offer a blessing for you for 2017? It’s my pleasure.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon, and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you, and give you peace.

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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