Thinking in Absolutes

I wrote most of this blog about a month ago. I was watching one of the Star Wars movies and I noticed something Obi-Wan said; “only a Sith deals in absolutes.” What struck me was the similarity in what Anakin (the Sith) said; “you’re either with me, or you’re my enemy,” and what we see all around us lately. An “absolute” is a way of thinking that slices all of the complexities out of relationships and principles, leaving nothing but a binary choice. In cognitive theory it’s a type of “all or nothing thinking.”

Lately, it feels like the world has gone crazy and our ability to listen to each other has been forgotten.  We are treating differences in opinion and beliefs as personal attacks and it’s destroying relationships.

Where does the truth come from? Consider that our brains have been forming our own perspective of the world since we were very young.  Thousands of inputs (experiences, education, relationships, faith, love, abuse) contribute to what we believe.  Someone who has a different perspective may have had very different life experiences.  A differing perspective (truth) doesn’t make someone else wrong or ignorant. In fact, not listening to someone else’s truth makes us ignorant. We listen to understand, even if we don’t agree.

I picked this blog up again after watching the documentary “The Social Dilemma,” on Netflix, which connected a couple of dots for me. It’s pointed out in the documentary that our information sources are skewed (based on our digital profile). You see, the information (input) that each of us receives, is designed to strengthen our own beliefs and ignore other perspectives. This literally feeds and reinforces absolute thinking! By staying in our own “lanes” of thinking (a liberal, a conservative, as poor, as rich) we are more predictable (ie. valuable) as consumers.  For example, when something takes place and is in the news, what I read about it (on Twitter, Facebook, Google, Instagram, YouTube) is different from what my neighbor reads based on our digital profiles. This misinformation leads to disagreement, lack of understanding, and even resentment. Does this sound familiar?

I think part of what makes me a good counselor is that I do listen. I accept people for who they are (sometimes before they accept themselves). I encourage you to listen to those with opposing views.  Try to really understand their perspective.  Remember that your truth isn’t necessarily everyone’s truth, and that’s not always a bad thing.

Chris Guzniczak, LPC

Flower Mound Counseling

“If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.”

– Mark Twain

Boredom

It’s hard to imagine that we are entering month six of the pandemic. I have observed (and experienced) a dynamic range of emotions associated with the worry of getting sick, fear of the unknown, social isolation, and anxiety around the economic impact. One negative emotion that we shrug off as being less important than the big three (depression, anxiety, anger) is BOREDOM. Ongoing boredom can lead to loneliness, lack of motivation, and even depression. In this pandemic, boredom has become one of the most common concerns I hear from clients.

In the book Intimate Connections by Dr. David Burns, he discusses how to manage loneliness, and I think its relevant for boredom as well. As Dr. Burns explains, if you have ever experienced loneliness, you’re probably quite aware of how negative life can seem. Strangely, your current situation doesn’t actually cause loneliness and boredom.  The negative feelings come from how you think about your situation. You can prove this by simply finding one person in the same situation that doesn’t feel the same way that you do. If you’re willing to learn to think about your situation in a more positive way, you can overcome feelings of loneliness and boredom.

You must learn to appreciate time with the one person that will always be there, YOU! These are a few of the recommended activities to consider (per Dr. Burns):

  • Think of activities you used to enjoy (games, playing an instrument) Give them a try
  • Think of things you’d enjoy doing with someone else and try them by yourself (hiking, shopping)
  • Do something you’ve been putting off (balance checkbook, write letters, organize your files)
  • Seek spiritual growth (get involved in your church or synagogue)
  • Do something for self-improvement (exercise, diet)
  • Start a hobby (collecting, gardening, skydiving!)
  • Get involved in a sport (local team, events, biking)
  • Do something for others (a charity, big brother/sister, food drives, ministries)

Starting something new may feel daunting, even overwhelming. One way to get started is to only commit to a simple task. For example, instead of committing to balancing the checkbook, just commit to prepare it for balancing (find it, place a pen next to it, make sure you have what you need). Then, if you feel like doing more, go for it! Next time, commit to another new task (maybe just balance one page) and so on.

If this blog motivates you to start something new (or old) feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear about activities, hobbies, etc. that help you get through these days!!

Chris Guzniczak, LPC

Flower Mound Counseling

Counseling

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I’m feeling extremely Blessed today because I have officially incorporated Chris Guzniczak Counseling, LLC. It’s been a long journey and I can’t express how much it means to be in a position to help people heal mentally and emotionally.

I chose the open Delta symbol with an arrow as my logo. The open Delta symbol represents being open to change and the arrow symbolizes progress (or moving forward). I can’t imagine a more fitting representation for the counseling process.

Counseling works because it allows for a safe environment for a client to be vulnerable, process (experiences, traumas, emotions, beliefs, relationships), and change the way he or she thinks (about self, others, the world). Therefore, a client’s success literally depends on his or her willingness to be vulnerable (open up), and change (move forward).

There are two important truths about emotions that I have learned along this journey. First, self-acceptance is at the core of emotional health. While this should be a given because we are all perfectly unique and made in His image, accepting ourselves (with all our faults) can be a long process. Second, emotional healing requires the willingness to be vulnerable.

Early in this journey, I came across a book called “The Feeling Good Method” by Dr David Burns. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in emotional health. I have gotten certified as a TEAM CBT Therapist and have utilized the Dr. Burns methodology with every client. I’ve also gotten Level 1 Certified in the Gottman Method Couples Therapy and I am in the process of getting certified as a CFRC (Certified First Responder Counselor).  Being able to take this journey with the amazing team at Flower Mound Counseling has been a Blessing in itself!

Thank you for supporting me along this journey.  I’ll continue learning to accept my imperfections, failing often (I’m sure), and growing every day. With God’s grace and the support of so many people, I’ll grow alongside those I am humbled to call clients.

 

Chris Guzniczak MA, LPC

Chris Guzniczak Counseling, LLC

Flower Mound Counseling

 

Carry the Load

books

Living with someone that suffers from depression challenges even the most loving families. It’s difficult to empathize with depression if you have never experienced it. Many of us have experienced loss and grief, but depression completely consumes a person in hopelessness.  I want to share an analogy that might help describe how it feels. Disclaimer; I have never personally experienced clinical depression. Clients of mine bravely shared that it really captured what they were going through.

During my First Responder Certification training with Academy Hour, Amy Morgan, MSC, had a powerful analogy for someone struggling with depression to the point of suicidal ideation. She described it this way: Imagine that every struggle that you carry is a book. Every unresolved loss, every memory of pain, or abuse, or suffering. Every trauma you have endured is another one of these heavy books that you carry around with you. Imagine that you have a stack of twelve books that you have to carry EVERYWHERE YOU GO! Everything you do is accompanied by the stress and exhaustion of lugging these books around. Even something simple like taking a shower or cleaning your room is exhausting. Others don’t see the books that you carry, so they can’t understand why you struggle. They say that you should appreciate the good in your life and just move on, but you can’t even see what they see because your so focused on the books! You feel so tired and you’re running out of options.  Everything you try to give up a book or two fails. You want to just give up, let go of the books, and end the pain.

Does this analogy help you feel what it might be like? If you have suffered with depression, does this analogy work? It took me inside the world of someone feeling absolutely exhausted and defeated.  It helps me understand why trying to pull someone out of depression with well-meaning distractions, gifts, vacations, and even love falls flat?  Relief only comes when someone helps carry the load through understanding and validation. As a family member or a friend, this is your role… to help carry the load. Then encourage him or her to seek professional help if needed. As a counselor, I have tools to work with clients to crush the thoughts that drive depression. Even as a counselor, I can’t help a client feel better until I help lighten the load. Eventually, we set those books down (one by one) for good.

Chris Guzniczak

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

Under Supervision of Tiffany Smith LPC-S, LMFT-S, NCC

I wanted to share an online program I developed over the last couple of weeks (since I have had some free time).
For more on the program, here is a quick preview:          Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 10.47.36 AM.png
The first 4 sessions are specifically mental health topics. Each has a video and an activity. The fifth session is a Biblical perspective … I included discussion questions.
In total the Program might look like this:
Session 1: Understanding Negative Thoughts and Feelings
Session 2: Change the Way You Think
Session 3: Self-Acceptance
Session 4: Communication Without Conflict
Session 5: Biblical perspective