More than just Thankful

One of my favorite skills that I have cultivated in my life is my ability to speak spanish. The original reason I learned it was because when I was in high school, a really cute boys soccer team from Colombia came to play in an international soccer tournament in Dallas, TX.

Attractive Colombian soccer players can do cool stuff like this:

So clearly I need to learn to talk to them more. Haha. Anyway, I started studying in high school, realized I loved the language, studied more in college at UT, and went to study abroad in Granada, Spain. I followed my college years with a missionary year in El Salvador, doing youth ministry at a Spanish speaking church, and going to grad school in California where I received my degree, and kept getting to practice therapy in Spanish.

Now I am a fluent Spanish speaking therapist, and although I am far from perfect, I have an ability for which I am thankful. This week when I think of what I am thankful for, this comes to mind. and I love that in Spanish, Thanksgiving translates to Accion de Gracias. I love the word Accion associated with Thanks! I think we all should show action towards other for what we feel thankful for.

I am thankful for how my husband loves me well, so I “Show” him love in my actions.

I am thankful for friends, so I “show” them they aren’t forgotten.

I am thankful for kindness, so I smile and offer a hand how I can.

I am thankful for my abilities so I “show” up in my life to use them in a meaningful way.

I am thankful for what I have in my life, so I try to remember everyday to “show” mercy and kindness to others who may have less.

Anyway, this ability has pushed me into the realm of my vocation to help many different people from many different countries and cultures, both as a missionary and as a therapist. May my Thankfulness for this skill produce Action this Thanksgiving and always.

May your gratitude and thankfulness for skills you have learned, produce Action this Thanksgiving and always.

Blessings.

9 SONGS THAT LIFT ME UP: an M-V-LOG

Sometimes we just need someone else to say (or sing) the words that we cannot say. Here is some music to uplift us.

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Anthem: The Wrecking

MKTO: Classic

Kristene DiMarco: It is well

Matt and Kim: Cameras

Switchfoot: Dare You to Move

Kate Voegele: Lift me Up

FlyLeaf Arise:

Davis: Dear Daughter

Juliana Theory: Into the Dark

Ars Supernova: Renascence

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When to Let Go

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Upon first meeting a person, there is usually a fun, exciting beginning; you put your best foot forward and they do the same.

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But after some time passes, you can’t put that front up forever, and you may suddenly realize that the relationship no longer brings value to your life and is more exhausting/draining than it is fruitful.

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Before we just write someone out of our lives though, I think it’s important to check in: why do we want to cut them out?

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Another person is a mirror to show us who we are. What we like about the other person are the things we usually like about ourselves, but what we don’t like, are probably the things we don’t like about ourselves. Put another way, we are always just projecting ourselves onto another: do we love their qualities because we are comfortable with within ourselves and areas where before we might not have felt totally comfortable, we have healed? Or Are we wanting to write someone off because there are areas that offend us or draw in negative emotions like fear and anger? Those may be areas where we need healing to occur deep within ourselves anyway. The opportunity arises then for deep self work. The healing is then your job, instead of blaming or becoming offended by others; you dive deeper into the relationship with yourself (not fixing the other person). This gives us a sense of control.

But even knowing that we do have a sense of control of our own self, we cannot control others, and some relationships are still unhealthy because of another person’s unwillingness to do the work on themselves. This is when we may need to let go. 

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It is difficult to let go sometimes. Here are some reasons why people stay in unhealthy relationships. 

“We have so much history”

“I would lose some of my friends”

“I am just accustomed to him or her.”

Fear of being alone.

Fear of hurting them.

Fear of the negative emotions, tension, or them lashing out.

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Any of these sound familiar?

History and being accustomed to someone, is not a good enough reason to stay friends or romantically involved with someone. I am glad you made some memories and passed some time in your life, but if the relationship is not beneficial or worse, detrimental, it’s not healthy to stay.

Also, if your friends won’t be your friend because you are no longer close with that mutual person, were they really your true friend in the first place?

Lastly, Fear is not a good reason to stay with someone especially if it is about an awful response or reaction from him or her. If they are going to lash out, be aggressive, take you for every penny you are worth, or bash your name all over town, I say the sooner you are gone the better. We have to make sure you are safe, though. If you need to seek out a safe plan for that, PLEASE TALK TO SOMEONE YOU CAN TRUST. Now if the fear is about hurting them or being alone, and not about their negative action against you, don’t you think they deserve to have someone in their life that is excited to be their friend or partner? It doesn’t do you or them any good to hang on to something when it is not beneficial.

Here are some GOOD REASONS TO LET GO:

  1. You cannot Trust them.Loyalty and Trust are foundational. Without that what do you have, besides insecurity and worry.
  2. You no longer share anything in common.People do grow apart, and it doesn’t mean you are bad people or failures if you can’t make the friendship or relationship work.
  3. The relationship is physically, spiritually, or emotionally damaging to you. Do they hurt you? Are there bruises? Do they mock your faith? Is your positive spirit being chipped away at? Does your soul feel crushed? Your ideas constantly mocked? Why do you stay?
  4. You are the only one fighting to keep the relationship and make it work. You should not always be working harder than the other person. Yes there are seasons where you may need a little more help or love, or vice versa. However, if you are in a completely unreciprocated relationship, don’t be.
  5. You aren’t able to get what you want and need

What is this person bringing to your life? You shouldn’t try to make everyone fit into your cookie cutter version of what you think a friend or significant other should be. You have to let them be who they are, but that doesn’t mean you have to have them as a part of your lifestyle if it is not making you happy or a better person. Do they encourage you and support you in your life journey?

I hope this encourages you to look at who is in your life and the types of relationships that you have.

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10 Mindsets that can lead to Eating Disorders

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Think like This? You could be at risk for an Eating Disorder 

  1. “I’m just being SUPER HEALTHY” 

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Beautiful display of yummy fruits and veggies right?!

Consider this metaphor: You are going to be stranded on an Island for 6 months. A boat comes by with supplies and says that you can receive a treasure chest full of pizza or a treasure chest full of lettuce for the entire 6 months. Which do you choose?

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I hope you said Pizza, because it is the only way that you would survive. I hear this in session often, “I was “BAD” today. I had___X___ Food.” Or “I did so well today I ate ‘GOOD’ food like lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots.” However, isn’t it all relative? If you were in this desert island situation, lettuce would be the “BAD” choice and Pizza would be the “GOOD” choice.

Pizza has the necessary nutrients: carbs, fats, and proteins for survival. But here is the reality: When you restrict carbs, dairy, calories, fats, (“sauce/dressing on the side please” sound familiar?), or proteins, and you do this restricting/controlling action over and over, you are essentially choosing the treasure chest of lettuce. And for most people, this ideology lasts much longer than 6 months, it lasts years. So please consider the treasure chest of lettuce, and ask yourself if restricting whatever foods from your diet might actually be depleting you of necessary nutrients.

2.”OMG I hate my ____X____ (body part).” 

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Walking into a mall bathroom and seeing teenagers looking at their flat little tummies and trying to grab non-existent fat rolls, while saying, “Ugh I’m so fat!”Look how we are even influencing our children with our own self-hatred! It’s heart breaking. Our culture has normalized critical harsh self talk.

  1. “I COULD NEVER eat whatever I want to without getting fat” 

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Eating disorders are Anxiety Disorders. The anxious belief that “I can’t eat that without gaining weight” strips us of any joy to eat that which we desire. This is a subconscious diet mentality that triggers biohunger- eating and craving the nutrients that you are not eating or tripling up on foods because they just don’t satisfy. Instead of eating for balance or overall health, we eat for weight loss because of a deep fear. It’s an imprisoning way to feel about something that was naturally and essentially supposed to be a good thing in our lives.

  1. “Diets are good for me.”

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Diets always seem to count calories in some way or another- all about restriction. They take away needed nutrients and your body might shrink for a while. However, eventually you will hit a low point where you will need to go into overeating to compensate for the starvation you just put yourself through- then you usually gain the weight back. This is called YO-YO dieting, and it is a lot of stress on your body.

  1. “If I am Hungry, I feel powerful and disciplined. If I am full, I feel gross and like a failure.” 

Eating food naturally satiates us to fullness, so if we think fullness is bad, food becomes the ENEMY. Food should not be the enemy, it should be our friend, as it is necessary for survival. We don’t consider oxygen or shelter the enemy, so why do we let food make us feel like a failure. Feeling hungry should not make us feel like this: imgres and Being full should not make us feel like this images-1 We should not run our car on empty, so we should fuel are tank, but not over-fuel it to the point of exploding! This is about listening to your body. Some days we feel hungrier. Some days we feel more full. Both are natural and normal, and it would do us a world of good to see them as such.

  1. “If I miss 1 workout, I will gain weight.” 

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As an athlete, this was something I used to struggle with a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I ate plenty. I loved to eat. Team dinners… carb loading for a tournament or race… rewarding myself with food for a really tough weekend of working out. Knowing that I worked out hard gave me what I felt like was freedom to overeat. Thus, if I didn’t workout one day, I felt like I should not allow myself this gift. While binging/overeating is never the healthy-intuitive-listening to your body response, neither is punishing your body by not eating just because you didn’t get your 10k run in. You will NOT gain weight from missing a single workout. Some days you are sick, some days you need a break to recover, and some days you just got too busy/exhausted… whatever the reason, you should listen to your body and rest.

  1. “Food makes me feel better.” 

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Ice cream after a break-up, Bacon Mac & Cheese, Brownies, donuts, and cookies, nostalgic foods from childhood… they’re soooooo delicious. A food coma may numb you out, or give us a blood sugar high that makes us feel a little better for the moment. However, the truth is that there is NO food that will resolve or fix the negative feelings we have. We have to deal with our feelings. We have to do the work.

  1. “If I eat something unhealthy, I might as well just give up today and start tomorrow. Or “Screw this week.” I’ll start next week.”

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If you know anyone who struggles with addiction, this is a very similar mindset. This thought that “well I messed up on my plan so… Forget the plan until tomorrow” creates a last meal mentality and increases the chances of binge eating for that day. Binge eating disorder really understands this thought process. You are trying to diet or restrict, but our bodies were not made to be starved, so we naturally crave and then eat intensely, because “well It’s the last time I will eat like this until I start my diet again tomorrow.” Do this over and over = weight gain. But here’s something to think about, the food will still be there tomorrow! Now you can eat when you are naturally hungry again. The rest of you meal that you aren’t hungry for, just box it up, it will still be in the fridge tomorrow. You don’t have to scarf it down tonight. Also, why does eating healthier foods and less healthy foods have to be like a pendulum swinging back and forth? Why can’t we just eat in a more balanced lifestyle where both are allowed?

  1. If I under eat, I will lose weight.

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Here is a harsh reality: your metabolism slows down. Also, remember when you were a teenager and your parents told you that you couldn’t do something? Didn’t it make you want to do it more? A life style of policing yourself and under-eating, usually results in a cycle of overeating and binges. Telling yourself I can’t have “X” is a mentality that precepts you to want “X” more. Thinking, I need more control and/or discipline? You can only do this for so long. Your body wasn’t meant to restrict. You body wasn’t meant to binge. It was meant to eat when hungry and stop when full. However, when we restrict our food intake throughout a day or week or month, eventually you’re body will need to overcompensate, and you will most likely engage in eating that feels out of control. Intense eating is a natural response to restriction/starvation.

  1. No one will ever love me at the weight I am at. No one will ever love me or stay if I gain weight. I will be alone forever. 

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I get it. We were made for community and connection. We should, however, feel confident that the people we are spending time with want to be loyal to us though the highs and lows of life: whether we are at our best or struggling, whether we have short hair or long hair, whether or not we wear make up, or whatever weight we are at.  Do you really want the person that chooses you to be as flippant as leaving over 5 lbs? even 40lbs? And I think the best and most pertinent question is this: Can you love yourself through the ups and downs? Can you love yourself at the weight you are at?  Because if you can’t love yourself, how can someone else?

Walkin on Sunshine

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Today is a day to celebrate! We are alive, mostly healthy, unique, have people in our lives that care about us, and our American government just offered love, acceptance, tolerance, and equality to all people who love and want to marry.

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So if today is a day to celebrate, then why is it so easy to walk through life complaining all of the time? We assume the worst, jump to conclusions, criticize others, and are especially self-critical. So QUESTION: Can EVERYDAY be a day to celebrate- to feel loved, to love others, to have a positive outlook? It’s not always easy, and it takes some work, but here are some DIY techniques that can help you look on the bright side.

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Get the Day Started Right:

Studies have shown that making the choice to get out of bed and start the day like this: images-5 (rather than being forced out by bathroom necessities or the threat of lateness where you feel like this: Sleep) helps you feel like you have some agency and control in your life. So my encouragement is to start the day by getting up, stretching tall, and thanking God for something that you are thankful for. Starting the day empowered and with gratitude in your heart will help the whole day feel better.

Remember the Good Times:

images-6Thinking back on positive memories, achievements, songs, and people who have had happy influences in your life elevates your mood and puts us in a good place in the here and now. This also can trigger us to remember what we were doing during those memories that was working so that we can get back to that place when we are struggling.

Make Small Goals and Achieve Them:

Make a list of 3 manageable things you want to accomplish that day and then do all that you can to achieve them. Plus, it will feel so good to cross one of those short term goals off when you have finished it. When our goals are too huge and too many, sometimes we can feel disappointed by not being able to meet our own unrealistic expectations. So start small… and when you reach your goals, feel successful and let it increase your confidence!

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Don’t Let Anything Cloud your Sunshine:

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” right? There are things that can get in the way of our light shining that sometimes we don’t even recognize. Ever felt HANGRY? and then shortly after you have a snack and your mood gets better? soft-pretzel-gif

Try to have a difficult conversation with a loved one late at night and it blows up into major fight? Being tired or lonely can cloud our sunshine, but sometimes just a nap or calling a friend can help our mood. It could be as simple as that, so check in with yourself and see if the answer to your happiness is a nap, snack, or phone call away.

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Fake It Til You Make It:

Sometimes when we feel stuck or in a low place, we just have to put our wants/desire to feel better into action before our beliefs and feelings will follow. Thus, if you want to be a happy person, act like a happy person. If you want to be a loving, kind, selfless person, put it into action- maybe volunteer or do something for others- and start living out the person you want to be.

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You can do this!

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Your day can get sunny and brighter with just a few moves. Get a suntan. Poke a hole through the raincloud. Try to take just one step in the direction of looking on the bright side this week. YOU CAN DO IT!

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MONEY MONEY MOOONAY!!!!

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I don’t know about you, but just thinking about Finances STRESSES ME OUT! You work so hard to make it, and then it just seems like it all disappears into thin air. Taxes, tollroad pay by mail bills, utilities that seem to increase without reason, health insurance, a little charity here or there, tips added to your food bills, increase in grocery prices, or just a cup of coffee with a friend. It all adds up, and can cause stress in ones life.

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So today, I dedicate my blog to ideas for saving some money, so that hopefully you can save it for the things in life you are REALLY excited to use those hard earned bills for…

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1. With Your CAR:

Be a one car family… sure that may mean a few Uber rides, carpooling or batch errands every once in a while so that you figure things out between you and others who may need the car, but you are saving money on the extra vehicle, and all associated costs like gas, insurance, maintenance, and registration fees.

If you do have a car, Drive a smaller car with better gas milage. images-2

Batch your errands: make a list and do it all within an afternoon, so you aren’t running errands everyday and driving needless miles. Reduce that carbon footprint, and save money. Carpool with others who may need to do similar errands.

Online bill pay: You don’t use the envelope/stamp or use the car to get to the place to pay your bill.

Bike more. If it’s within 2 miles, take a walk. Get that exercise in. Use those legs as God intended.

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2. At HOME:

Remember to turn the lights off, unplug stuff, turn off the air conditioning or heat when you leave.

Wash less clothes. Use the smell test. Hang dry your clothes. They will actually last longer.

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Maintain your stuff. I took a learning lesson from My husband. He has one nice pair of sunglasses that he has had for years and he continues to take care of them. I had 10 pairs of $5-10 dollar sunglasses that I have all scratched up/broken/lost/etc. I’m consuming more waste, hurting the environment in the process. I’m still learning.

Sell your stuff you don’t use that’s still good. Make some money back.

3. Entertainment Stuff:

Go to the library– you should rarely have to pay for books.

Do more fun things at home, look for free fun in your city such as http://freefuninaustin.com/

What subscriptions do you absolutely need? With the wealth of the internet videos, articles, etc. do you really need magazine subscriptions? Do you need Amazon prime and Netflix? Think about it.

Travel frugally by buying packaged deals with airlines and rental cars, shop around, plan ahead. They say Tuesday/wednesday is the best day to buy tickets.

Minimize your vices: drinking, smoking, bakery items, fancy coffee, boba tea, online poker… all of this stuff adds up quick. We all have our one thing that if we can cut back or cut out completely, This can save you THOUSANDS of dollars a year!

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4. With regards to Shopping:

Make a list, a budget, shop only for what you need to get, and look online for cheaper prices (but beware if there are shipping costs- this is when amazon prime might be beneficial).

Can you DIY (do it yourself- look for ideas on https://www.pinterest.com/wendyLMFT )? Ok, so maybe not, then look for used first, buy only items on sale, there are enough vendors in the world that someone will likely have it on sale.

For that super desired item, ask yourself the following questions. Will it really enrich my life? Do I just want it because it’s cool right now? and Check back in a couple weeks or a month (even better), Do I still want it?

When buying gifts for others: DIY, give consumables, food, stuff that makes you think of them. Be heartfelt instead of deep pocketed.

5. When it comes to Food.

Eat out less. Yes for special occasions I get it, but this will save you tip, tax, parking, gas, and the up charge on food!

Take inventory of your pantry before you shop, again make a menu for the week, and shop only for what you need to get. Don’t go to the store hungry!

Try to pack healthy snacks so you won’t eat out or grab that 711 burrito. Even the healthy food convenient stores carry is much more expensive than if you bought a box of those items in bulked, served yourself out a portion at home and took it with you.images-6

Cook in bulk (which is usually cheaper per ounce of food), then pack left overs for the next days lunch or freeze left overs. Buy frozen veggies: less preservatives than canned and still holds most of the nutritional value of fresh.

Eat less meat. just try it a couple meals a week. I think you will see a change in your wallet size, and waist-line.

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Anyway, I hope some of these ideas were helpful and you can see positive change in your finances by implementing just a few. Time to cultivate and grow your hard earned money!

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When to stop obsessing over him…

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Here’s the deal.

Most of us have dealt with a break up or rejection. We didn’t want it to end, we wanted them to choose us. They didn’t, but yet we still feel the need to check up on their twitter, facebook, instagram, etc.

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Did they move on? Are they with someone else? These are normal questions one might have after a break up, but that’s where it should end. There is a healthy level of curiosity, and then their is stalking.

One is wonder, a single phone call or text periodically, and/or a conversation about an ex or a love interest with a mutual friend. The other is intrusive, unwanted, disrespectful, fixated, and selfish.

Stalking or Obsession with a person crosses an imaginary boundary. Acts that are considered stalking can include but is not limited to: persistent texts, emails, phone calls, monitoring, surveillance, search trespassing, and other criminal, crude, or violent acts. An important question to ask: how are my actions affecting the other person.

The reality is most of us have felt this romantic obsession at least once in our life. A break up happens and we don’t feel our secure selves. We feel a little neurotic or crazy.

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Healthy cut-off is important for both your emotional health and the object of your affection’s emotional and physical safety. So how do you end your strong urges to know everything about what an ex or a love interest is doing? How do you cease obsessing and acting on it?

1. Don’t try to deal with this on your own. Please ask for help! Tell a trusted friend or therapist that you are struggling, and have them check in with you to keep you accountable for not acting on your impulses.

2. This might be the hardest piece of advice to stomach, but FEEL YOUR FEELINGS. Grieve. Cry. Deal. Process. The bad ones suck, I know, but learning how to deal with them and tolerate will make you a better person and help you deal with disappointment in life, which is inevitable.

3. End all contact- Do not keep the hope as an existing force with continued contact: Do what deleting and blocking you must to end the texts, emails, phone calls, Facebook status checks, Instagram and twitter monitoring. If you cannot deal with your feelings without compulsively acting on your obsession, then pick a few activities that make you feel happy so you can distract yourself until you are able to tolerate these negative emotions without acting out.

4. Take them off the pedestal: The object of your obsession is not perfect, and they are not the only way for you to be happy. Thus, I encourage you to be realistic about this man or woman. They may have some good qualities, but also name some of the bad. Not for revenge sake, but to understand that they may not be the sole person to fulfill you. Fill yourself first. Do you really want to be with someone who doesn’t want you too? Maybe one of your life goals is to feel loved and in love. That is a great goal. YOU HAVE TO REALIZE, THOUGH, THAT THIS PERSON HAS DECLINED BEING THE PERSON WHO WILL HELP YOU DO THAT.

Break ups and rejection are so hard. However, if they do not want you in their life, leave them alone. IT IS THE HEALTHIEST OPTION SO THAT YOU ALSO CAN MOVE ON. YOU CAN DO THIS. BE PROUD OF YOURSELF WHEN YOU DO!

XOXOXO- Making Love: what it’s really all about.

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Here’s the short answer: feeling secure, precious, special, and safe.

Valentines Day is coming up and so I decided to dedicate this post to talking in detail about Making Love. Don’t let your jaws drop to far before I can tell you it’s not what you think. In conversations with clients, friends, and colleagues, I have come to learn a Universal Truth: Sex can be Beautiful, but it can also be a source of great Stress and Hurt. It’s a complicated topic with one having so many questions and thoughts. Am I ready? Are they committed? Will I be good? Will they be good? Will it hurt? If I wait until marriage and then it sucks, what then? If I do it now, will I regret it if we don’t last? I’m scared. I’m excited. I’m nervous. This feels Good. This hurts. Ahhhh….

Thus, I am here to take away the stress of Sex and instead encourage you to build the relationship you are in by making love WITHOUT doing it. Just try it. Or try a few! Here are some tips:

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  1. Write each other letters, stories, songs, or poetry.images-1
  2. Tell them you love them.
  3. Hold them while they cry
  4. Celebrate with them when they succeed.
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  6. Cook them dinner or bake them something.
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  8. Volunteer together, or individually volunteer for a cause they love.
  9. Choose a special song together.
  10. Dance in the house together or Go out dancing.
  11. Send flowers or Candy.
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  13. Hold Hands.
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  15. Brag about them to your friends in front of them.
  16. Play a sport together.
  17. Make eye contact and really listen to them.

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18. Trust them.

19. Talk on the phone or text.

20. Meet each other’s families

21. Give each other a promise ring.

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22. Be best friends

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23. Flirt with each other

24. Be faithful

25. Watch beautiful nature together

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26. Pray together

27. Make each other gifts

28. Encourage them to hang out with their friends

29. Be nice to their friends

30. Impress each other

31. Wash their car

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32. Make a list of what you like about them

33. Leave your phone at home while on a date with them

34. Share your dreams from the night before

35. Share your dreams in life with them

36. Set goals in life together

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37. Travel together

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38. Give gifts

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39. Tell them how you feel

40. Take a walk together

41. Go swimming

42. Give each other massages

43. Do something with them that only they love (ie. Fishing)

44. Go grocery shopping buying only what you need for the date and cook a meal together

45. Respect them

46. Kiss them

47. Go for a long hike or bike ride together

48. Tell them you care

49. Spoon, cuddle, snuggle

50. Walk arm in arm.

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51. Compliment them

52. Do work together side by side

53. Plan and take a road trip together

54. Throw a party together

55. Go to the library

56. Play minigolf together

57. Go on a picnic

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58. Go for a moonlit walk

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59. Hide a love note where the other can find it

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60. Eat dinner by candle light

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61. Give each other pet names

62. Whisper something nice or sexy in their ear in public

63. Go to a concert together

64. Play footsie

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65. Give them light touches/tickles on their back, neck, arms, and face

66. Send a funny card

67. Do something for them without being asked

68. Share private jokes

69. Take a bunch of fun selfies together, then don’t post them, keep them

I think these are enough helpful ideas to keep us super busy loving on our significant others or really anyone for a while! If you can think of anymore really great ideas, please email me at Wendy.LMFT@gmail.com.

The 4 W’s of Coming out of the Proverbial Closet

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First, Let me just say, if you have already gone through this process, congrats on the steps you have taken to get where you are today. Also, if you are not gay, but don’t know how to respond to those who might be planning to come out, hopefully this article will offer some encouragement, no matter which side of the argument you may be on. For those that are not sure of their own sexual orientation yet, that’s okay.  It’s okay to say that you are in a process. Lastly, if you are questioning whether you want to come out or not, I want to commend you for struggling through a difficult decision in life at a difficult time where acceptance still isn’t totally ubiquitous. But take heart, the movement towards acceptance, hope, and healing is happening. There are people, groups, and organizations that will welcome you with open arms.

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So lets talk about the 4 W’s of coming out.

To WHOM: make sure you first come out to someone you trust and also whom you really feel will accept you. Fear of rejection and anxiety are both things that homosexual individuals face and wrestle with more than heterosexual individuals. Feeling totally alone is one of the worst feelings, especially when you are embarking on this difficult road. Therefore, I ask you to pick someone who makes you feel safe and will hopefully accept you fully. Then, by having that one person’s full support as you choose your other audiences, it will make the responses good or bad, something you can deal with and process with someone who believes in you. You should prepare for the idea that some people still might respond how you had hoped, but not everyone is on the other side of history yet. I hope you know how brave you are!

(note to the responder: Please be Kind… Warm, Safe, Welcoming, Loving… Celebratory, Encouraging? All the better: but even if you don’t agree with their choice in life, they did choose you as a person they trust and important enough to tell you even if they thought you would reject them. I encourage that my role as a CHRISTIAN is to love others as God loves us. I also believe that our role as HUMANS is to love. There is already enough pain, hate, and strife in this world. Please don’t add to it.)

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WHAT will you say? Coming out is difficult, so figuring out the right way to do it will probably take some thought and consideration. I encourage that writing it out first will be helpful to weed out the details that don’t matter, (who you kissed, what it felt like?) and make sure you say the meat of the story clearly. “I am gay”, or “I am bisexual.” Leave no room for confusion or trying to convince you otherwise. Prefacing the big stuff: Let them know why you chose them as a person worthy of such new and important information. Let them know that they don’t have to agree, but you hope for respect. Allow them to ask questions because they will have some for you.

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(note to the responder: First, feel honored. He or She wanted to be REAL and HONEST with you, so the least you can do is let them know “ I am glad that you trusted me enough to tell me.” If you really do disagree, judgment, animosity, and exclusion will not change their sexual orientation. Secondly, Ask questions. He or she just told you a huge piece of important information. If you need to, ask your questions, to understand better. Try not to make assumptions.)

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WHEN is the right time? The truth is there is never going to be a perfect time. So do it NOW!!! Just kidding! IT IS ESSENTIAL TO GO AT YOUR OWN PACE, so you can be true to who you are. when they can focus on you, not be distracted. Preface your invitation to talk as, I want to talk to you about something really important, so that they don’t invite anyone else along, or sit on their phone. Ask them to put all distractions away.

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(note to the responder: make time for him or her. If it is this important enough that they wanted to tell you this, the other stuff can happen/ be done at a later time. Focus in Now. Be present.)

WHERE is the right place? Somewhere with minimal distractions, but most importantly where you feel safe. Are you so scared of their reaction you fear your safety? Maybe in a public place is best, or maybe not at all. However, if you do feel safe, I encourage you meet in a place that feels neutral. A Neutral location will help the receiver feel comfortable so that they may ask questions, and you to feel safe to share as well.

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FOLLOWING THESE 4 W’s should help ease the process of coming out. Plus, I really hope that being truthful with those who are an important part of your life about who you are and what your sexual orientation is will help bring an increased sense of personal integrity, increased self esteem, and increased communication and honesty with others. Good luck!!

Aside: Self-acceptance is the first and most important step to this process. Coming out about your sexuality will be easier to do and easier to accept dissenting opinions if you are more solid and confident about who you are. I encourage you to see help and talk to a therapist, as I believe in our education and training to be neutral, good listeners, and question askers to help you become more aware of yourself and your wants/needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact me: Wendy.LMFT@gmail.com or my phone number (512) 649 1049. Another great therapist in the Austin area who works very well with these issues is April Owen who you can contact at: (832) 421 4968 or Dr_o@live.com .

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