Tag: perfectionism

Responsible Faith Workshops

Angry is as angry does!—Feeling angry is normal and healthy.  Learning to express anger appropriately is difficult for most people.  Anger can turn into depression, guilt or anxiety, if not dealt with positively.  This presentation will examine the many faces of anger, violence, depression and manipulation and offer specific guidelines for learning healthy ways of expressing anger and dealing with other people’s anger when it is directed at us.

Anger and the recovery process—Anger is a normal and healthy emotion but learning to express anger is difficult for people who have lived in chemically dependent or other stressful situations.  This workshop is not only for the recovering problem drinker, but for the spouse and adult children of the chemically dependent person.  It offers specific guidelines for learning healthy ways to acknowledge and express anger.

Love and addiction—Addictive love is limiting.  It limits our capacity for intimacy and our ability to truly love another as an equal.  It limits our personal power and freedom.  This presentation will examine the differences between mature and immature love, provide a profile of healthy belonging and offer participants an opportunity to work on their own issues of establishing and maintaining on-going, meaningful interpersonal relationships.

How to make peace with the past—Our here and now conflicts with spouses, children, ex-spouses, partners, are in part emotional re-enactments from the past.  The unresolved conflicts we had with our parents seem to reappear to affect our adult relationships.  This presentation will provide strategies for healing the past, so it has less impact on our present feelings and behaviors and as a result, enriches our present relationships.

Be ye perfect-mission impossible!—The biblical admonition, “Be ye perfect”, often has been misunderstood and even abused.  To strive for excellence, to achieve, to be successful, differs from an unhealthy .  Perfectionism is at the root of many harmful messages we received as children, which carry over into our adult lives, producing guilt, anger, low self, addiction, etc.  Participants will learn how to recover from those toxic, shaming messages.

Shame! Shame! Shame!—If you grew up in a family where there was a lot of stress, you learned certain role, rules and behaviors, which produce a lot of guilt and shame and which we usually pass on to our children.  This presentation will assist you in learning new ways of dealing with the effects of growing up in a high stress family where shaming and blaming were the norm.

Helping the helper heal: Clinician heal thyself—Helping professionals are not immune to the stress and pressure in their personal and professional lives.  There is often a very fine line between caring and behaviors that produce “compassion fatigue”.  This presentation will assist helping professionals to renew their commitment as compassionate caregivers; create a balance between caring and “co-dependent” behaviors and provide techniques for self-caring that will generate peace and serenity.

Self-care for the caregiver—Americans are living longer and their care is falling to children they once cared for or to a spouse who may still be working.  While caring for a spouse or parent may be rewarding, it can also be exhausting, taking its toll on our emotions, our finances, our jobs, our families and on our own health.  This presentation will provide primary or long distant caregivers resources and tools to support their role as caregiver and skills to take care of themselves.

The sandwich generation: Honor thy father and mother but be a good parent—An increasing number of adults find themselves in the position of a parenting their own children and being a caregiver for their aging parents.  This presentation will examine the issues that this dual role creates and offer support and solutions for the stress, frustration guilt and anger that being in the middle of two generations often creates.

Micro

Most of the courses I taught at Arizona State University’s School of Social Work were focused on helping smaller social systems: individuals, families and small groups, make changes in their lives (). I also continued a private practice, mainly to keep my skills up to date and relevant to what I was teaching. Although I only brought religion/spirituality into my work with clients if they presented it as something they wanted assistance with, I always felt that my work with clients on a one-to-one basis, with small groups or families, was my way of following Jesus’ admonition and example of showing compassion for those in need. Whether it was a person suffering from a chemical addiction; a couple struggling to keep their marriage together; stepparents, whose unrealistic expectations were rupturing the new family, or a group of teenagers who were going though the pains of adolescence, I had the opportunity and obligation to bring them Jesus’ healing love, without even mentioning Jesus.

At the same time, I was also working to effect change on those larger systems, that were impinging on people’ rights. Whether it was the welfare system that was ignoring the needs of the poor or elderly; the mental health system that was not providing services for people who were suffering from mental illnesses; businesses who were discriminating because of workers’ race or gender, these were the people that Jesus wanted us to help, the disenfranchised, (). Just as the early Christian communities based their communal lives on the teachings of Jesus by living lives of justice, nonviolence, generosity and hope, I believe that we who follow Jesus need to incorporate these virtues in our daily lives in the twenty-first century, by helping to create compassionate communities.

I will discuss change and a combination of and models on other web-pages on , but for now I want to focus on as a model for our following Jesus. I’m not suggesting everyone should become a social worker but that there is a wealth of ways that social work practices can be translated into our lives as followers of Jesus.

Let me start by suggesting a website that I think embodies what Jesus expects of us. (http://followingjesus.org) When you open the website you’ll find a beautiful musical presentation that spells out what Jesus taught before his death and expects of his followers. The rest of the website traces the historical development of Christianity from the very beginning to the present time, and also examines both the underlying rational for faith and beliefs and suggests ways for how we can become better followers of Jesus. I will be referring back to this website throughout other web-pages. For the time being, I’ll just focus on the initial musical presentation. When I have my Blog up and running, I’d appreciate your thoughts on this and other issues that I or others bring up. My hope is that this will be an interactive experience that we all can learn from. My personal philosophy as a professor was, “There are no teachers, there are only learners.”.

Social Change and Action and Small System As I mentioned earlier I see Jesus as a change agent, along with his other roles. What I intend to do now is to translate at the level from the social work model to how it can apply to our following Jesus the change agent. I’m not suggesting this is the only way to look at but is the one that I found most helpful.

Micro Social Work practice emphasizes change on small-social systems. The emphasis is on theories, methods, and techniques of practice within the contexts of individuals, families, and small social networks. When we look back at Jesus’ life during his three years of social ministry, there are a number of instances that come to mind where he healed individuals, e.g., when he healed the deaf or blind; with families e.g., when he came at the request of Lazarus’ family when they were grieving his death and he answered their pleas by bringing Lazarus back to life; with his apostles when he saved them from a storm at sea. Not that we are expected to physically heal the deaf and blind or bring someone back to life, but there are other signs of his compassion that are less dramatic. We show Jesus’ compassion in our daily lives e.g., by volunteering in agencies that feed the hungry; being involved in providing housing for the homeless, or taking advantage of so many opportunities to show our love for our neighbor, e.g. when a loved one dies by comforting those who mourn. We don’t have to be psychotherapists to show Jesus’ compassion. Nor do the followers of Jesus have the corner of the market on these virtues, but our motivation is the recognition that God is in all of us. “The is within us”. (Luke 7:21) Or, “Namaste,” a Hindu greeting translated as: The God/Goddess Spirit within me recognizes and honors the God/Goddess Spirit within you.

Suggested Readings on Social Change

    1. To put in perspective, here is a statement of US Conference of Catholic Bishops: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus [PDF], it addresses the and social issues and emphasizes the need to work at both levels. Based on catholic social teaching, it provides a model that differentiates Charity and Justice. Charity focusing on the needs of people, while justice focuses on the inalienable rights of individuals and what they can expect from their government and religious organizations.
    1. The social teaching of the Church is embedded in the encyclicals of the popes beginning with Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum: On the Condition of Workers. For the next 100 years s Pius XI, John XXIII, Paul VI all wrote encyclicals on social issues and John Paul II, wrote three encyclicals on the similar topics, his last social encyclical was , Centesimus Annus: The Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum in 1991.
    1. Religion and Social Justice in America, by Austin Cline—The author of this article acknowledges the role that religion has played in social justice, which generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights and recognizes the dignity and worth of every human being, while contemporary fundamentalists’ “…focus on private sexual morality to the exclusion of almost all else.” The article gives a different view of the traditional positions on the role of the Church described in the two previous articles.
    1. Why Self-compassion Trumps Self-esteem“—Article by Kristin Neff, in Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. This website offers views from science on how a meaningful life would be described, and achieved. It also includes responses from readers.
    1. Social Institutions: The Family—For those who are interested in a more sociological perspective on the family this website offers basic and advanced information on various aspects of the family, an institution that many sociologists think is a miniature replica of the society in itself. Its importance of lies in the fact, that it cements a nation together by providing it a past, a present and a future.
    1. Fausel, D. (1998), Collaborative Conversations for Change: A Solution Focused Approach to Family Centered Practice, Family Preservation Journal, 3,1, 59-74—Over the years, I took training and taught many types of therapy. I don’t believe one type of therapy fits every situation. As I continued to practice, I became more eclectic in my use of different models of therapy. I chose this article on solution focused brief therapy because I believe it is appropriate for multiple problems and deals with the “here and now” rather than the “there and then”. It doesn’t give prescriptions to those we wish to help, like many other forms of therapy, it asks questions about what is going well in their life or what they are doing differently when things are going well. I believe its principles can be adapted for non-therapists to use in helping others, not as therapists but as friends helping neighbors.
    1. Here is Module I of a training program I wrote for non-therapists, volunteers, or paraprofessionals , that adapts Collaborative Conversation for Change to working with families, which can also be used in our interactions with others, to help them with the day to day problems they are facing. Again, it’s not meant to make the reader a therapist, but to be a better communicator with those we meet, who have problems that we can help them with as a friend, as as a compassionate neighbor.

      Here’s an example of person I remember working with, who was very depressed: After listening for a while about how depressed he was, I asked him to “Tell me about those times when you aren’t depressed.” His immediate reaction was to respond, “I’m always depressed.” I followed-up with another question, “If you weren’t depressed, how would your life be different?” He thought for a few minutes and went on to tell me how much he enjoys classical music, and what a comfort it had been to him before all this depression. After exploring this a little, I asked, “Between now and the next time we meet would you be willing to spend some time listening to the music that you enjoy?” He agreed. The next time he came to see me he was feeling less depressed and willing to try some other suggestions, that were based on things he told me were what he enjoyed but had given up.

      I’m not suggesting that this type of interaction is magic and can ipso facto change the person over night. But it can put him/her on a different path. The thinking behind it is if something works, do more of it. If I just talked about a person’s depression with them, they would more likely than not leave more depressed and I probably would be more depressed too.

    2. Here is Module II of that same training.
    1. Since depression in the United States is of epidemic proportions, here are some other references that might be of interest and helpful. In addition to depression they contain information on other emotional and mental conditions.
    1. National Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect provides information on one of our major social problems, child abuse and neglect. In Luke (17:2), Jesus had some very harsh words for anyone who harmed a child. He suggested that they would be better off if a millstone were tied around their neck and were thrown into the sea. Working to protect children is one way of being a follower of Jesus. If you need convincing of the extent of this problem, this website should convince you. It also provides resources for agencies that deal with abuse and neglect.
    1. Worksops—Over the years I’ve offered a number of workshops for folks with problems that clients of mine were experiencing. The workshops gave the participants and me, the opportunity to interact with others who were struggling with the same problems as they were, and gave me an opportunity to learn more about the problems clients were dealing with.They say, “You teach what you need to learn” and looking back, I realized it also gave me the opportunity to choose topics that I was dealing with in my own life at that time. For example, the workshop, “Angry is as Angry Does”, as the title indicates, we (I) needed to recognize the fact that it’s not the anger that’s the problem, but how we deal with the anger that’s the problem. Once we realize that, we can begin to deal with our anger without feeling guilty. At that time in my life I was dealing with my own anger and needed to learn better ways to handle anger myself.Here’s one other example—In writing the workshop, “Be ye Perfect, Mission Impossible,” I realized that the biblical admonition, “Be ye Perfect,” often had been misunderstood and even abused. To strive for excellence, to achieve, to be successful, differs from an unhealthy . The more I looked at myself and my background, which taught me that I needed to be the perfect person, the more I listened to others with similar backgrounds, the more I realized that is at the root of many harmful messages many of us received as children, which carry over into our adult lives, producing guilt, anger, low self-esteem, addictions etc. The goal of the workshop was to help the participants, including me, to recover from those toxic, shaming messages we grew up with and carried into our adult lives.
    2. This webpage from the Self Help Magazine, covers “13 Signs of Anger and How to Deal with them in Sobriety.”
    1. This is an Anger Toolkit, in the website, “Anger Management.” Some of the topics it has are: Measure your Anger; Coping with Your Boss; Four Techniques for Managing Anger; Coping with Grief and Loss.
    1. An article from the Child Development Institute, entitled “Dealing with the Angry Child”.
    1. If you’ve read my book, you already know that I was a congenital codependent. In the 12 step programs they have a saying that we codependents were sicker that the addicted person in their lives. Here are several website that deal with codependency.

In case you’re wondering what codependency or has to do with following Jesus, let me try to give my rationale again. I believe the more knowledge we have from the social sciences or life experiences about problems that affect our relationships or out ability to help our neighbors in need, not necessarily as psychotherapists, the more we are putting into action what Jesus preached during his lifetime.

To use codependency as an example: one definition of a codependent is someone who’s drowning and going down for the third time and someone else’s life passes before their eyes. Obviously that’s not an academic definition but an attempt by some creative person to help codependents realize that spending too much time dealing with other people’s problems and ignoring their own issues, isn’t that helpful. As I congenital codependent, for years I was the “great enabler”.

A codependent is basically a person who enables. Applying this to addictions, an enabler is a person, who by their actions makes it easier for addicts to continue their self destructive behaviors, by consistently rescuing the addictive person in their lives. Often the behavior of the enabler satisfies a need that they have, and prolongs the problem of the person they might think they’re helping. The codependent person often doesn’t realize that their action satisfy their need to control and tends to keep the other person in a dependent relationship. The codependent then feels needed. They might think they have the other person’s best interest at heart, but they are actually meeting a need they have to be needed. If we really want to help our neighbor we need to know ourselves. For me it took regular meetings in Al-anon, to realize how my “good intentions” were not helping, they were prolonging the dysfunctional behavior of a loved one.

    1. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, located at Columbia University, offers a wide variety of topics related to both resources, treatment programs, content, economic data and statistics.
    1. Hazelden is a comprehensive treatment center, founded in 1949 in Minnesota. http://www.hazelden.org/web/public/about_hazelden.page . It is one of the pioneers in helping individuals, families, and communities struggling with alcohol abuse, substance abuse, and drug addiction transform their lives. They have locations across the United States, where they help people at all stages of the treatment and recovery process, supporting them with our Twelve Step-based model that is the modern standard for addiction treatment and recovery services. Their programs include:
      • Substance abuse treatment and alcohol rehab
      • Recovery support services
      • Professional education
      • Addiction research
      • Prevention curriculum development
      • Publishing
      • Addiction awareness and public policy
    2. The family that many of us remember from the ’50s and ’60s is no longer the norm: Ossie and Harriet, sons David and Ricky, and dog Spot, are only fond memories of my youth. Surprisingly, according to the most recent statistics from the Census report of 2008, overall 7 out of 10 children live with two parents. Not necessarily biological parents, or married parents, but parents, never-the-less. There are an increasing number of step-parents or blended families as they are also known as (some 65% of remarriages include children). Here is a website with more statistics from an article in The New York Times.
  1. This resource is from a website called Family Corner. It provides information on different family structures: nuclear, step, single etc Each of which presents is own joys and sorrows and often needs healing and one called Help Guide that focuses more on blended families.By the way, it always bothers me when step families are called blended families. I understand that they want to get away from the bad image that the “wicked stepmother” has, but in real life, it would be more than awkward to introduce your step mother or father as my blended mother and father. Or, “Hi, I’d like you to meet my blended sister.”

Articles and presentations by Don Fausel, as well as resources from other links will be added in in the near future. Topics to be covered will be more on addictions, anger, parenting, step parenting, end of life issues etc.

Positive Social Change

Introduction

You’ve probably have heard many sermons over the years that bemoan the fact that there are too many in the congregation that are “Sunday ”. They come to regularly to worship, praise and adore Jesus and to give thanks to God for their many blessings, but as soon as the service is over and they rush to the parking lot, it’s every “man” for himself. What happened to their sense of community and resolve to follow Jesus’ example and his admonition to love thy neighbor? Not just at the Sunday service! Perhaps they just don’t know who their neighbor is.

They seem to have forgotten how Jesus replied when a lawyer asked what the greatest commandment was. Jesus’ reply was that second to loving God, “To love your neighbor as yourself.” When asked who our neighbor is, He did not answer directly, He went on to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan. Remember, it was the Samaritan, who demonstrated compassion and love by caring for a man dying in the ditch, beaten, naked and abandoned from an assault by robbers? It was not the priest or the Levite who saw him their beaten, naked and abandoned. They passed on to the other side of the road, ignoring the victim. But along came a Samaritan, who instinctively showed his compassion. Hearing this parable at that time in history, must have had an impact on those who questioned Jesus, because they would have been very aware that there was no love lost between the Samaritans, who came from the north and Priest and Levite who came from the south.

When asked, Jesus refuses to define who our neighbor is. Instead he asked a question. “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers hands?” The lawyer who asked the original question sheepishly responded, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said, “Go and do the same.” Jesus’ message is clear; loving our neighbor is not limited to family or friends. It’s showing the love of God to all who are in need, whoever they may be, whatever faith they belong to. His message to us is the same, “Go and do the same.”

For us to follow Jesus, we must reflect God’s love by loving one another. Not just in words, not just to those who share our same beliefs, but by our actions to friends and enemies alike. It’s often easier said than done. Jesus is more direct in Matthew, 25:35, when He reminded us who we needed to serve, “I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me something to drink… I was naked and you gave me clothes…” etc. Then He was even more explicit in the Beatitudes (The Sermon on the Mountain), Matthew 5-6, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.” And “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be filled.” Etc. In our current vernacular, He was saying, If you want to follow me, you need to be a “change agent”.

I strongly recommend a website that deals with these issues in great depth, and has references for where to go to get involved in projects you might be interested in. The website is Following Jesus. It has examples of how we might follow Jesus almost two thousand years after his birth. For example, homelessness, visiting the sick and imprisoned, caring for the environment, or working for peace and justice, all have excellent references.

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Types of Social Change

One of my good fortunes that I had on my life’s journey was to be sent by my bishop to study social work at Fordham University, so that I eventually could be director of Charities in Schenectady, NY. At that time I had no idea what social work as a profession was. I just obediently followed his orders. I soon was introduced and embraced social work, its values and it practice model for . It opened up a whole new world to me. It became my way of being a change agent and follow the social gospel.

I intend to use what I learned in my social work training as a model of change. It’s not the only model but it made sense to me. Social work is basically grounded in our Judaea/Christian heritage, which believes in the dignity and worth of every human being. It believes that we don’t have to become someone or belong to a certain religion, be of a certain gender or be heterosexual, or a member of a certain social cast or income level, rather just by being a human being we are already someone and we can thankfully accept our rights as outlined in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty
and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights,
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed…

For me, the social work practice model fits perfectly with my understanding of the type of action to affect change that Jesus might have had in mind for his followers in the 21st century. Social work doesn’t have the corner of the marked on the model I’m going to describe. Change theory is used by different organizational systems to achieve a higher degree of output or self-actualization. One of the differences with social work and other profession who are change orientated is that social work deals with both small and large systems, Micro and Macro. The underlying theory of social work practice for change is Person in (PIE). As the title indicates, the focus for change is both on smaller system, e.g. individuals, families and small social networks (Micro); while the focal point of Macro practice is on changing larger systems, such as neighborhoods, communities, governments, and other organizations. That is, those systems that impinge on individuals and other smaller systems. Macro practice encompasses a broad spectrum of practice, including planning, program development, community organizing, policy analysis, legislative , program evaluation, task-oriented group work, community education, and human services management.

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PIE is a holistic, since it is interested in effected change at different levels and takes into consideration cultural diversity. For example, a person who is homeless and hungry has an immediate need for shelter and food. Since a hungry person cannot eat retroactively, and has an immediate need for food, we follow Jesus’ example by providing food to the hungry person, but from a perspective we need to help change the other systems that might be causing the problem of hunger and homelessness. This could require advocating for jobs or job training, affordable housing, or programs to meet their needs until they can support themselves.  We need to play both the role of enabler, by helping the person become capable of coping with situations or transitional stress by meeting their immediate needs and advocating for the resources they need to be able to pursue what Franklin D. Roosevelt – The Four Freedoms in his address to Congress on June 6, 1941. The third and fourth freedoms are particularly appropriate for change:

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.

FDR goes on to articulate what I believe is a mandate for our engaging in . A mandate that I believe Jesus would have given if he lived in America in the 21st century.

Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change, in a perpetual peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions—without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society. From Congressional Record, 1941, Vol. 87, Pt. I.

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For a powerpoint presentation on Social Change and Social Action that I developed when I was teaching at Walden University, click here. It provides:

  • A Definition of Social Change
  • Theories of Social Change
  • Roles of Social Change Agents
    • Ameliorator—Health and human service workers
    • Social Reformer—Legislative Activists
    • Social Actionists—Saul Alinski, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Rebel—Students for a Democratic Society
    • Revolutionaries—Simbinese Liberation Army
  • Strategies of Social Action

There are separate web-pages for both and with more in depth information under the headings of Micro and Macro Social Change.

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