Developing Compassion after Trauma, & Heartbreak | Orlando Substance Abuse Counseling

Developing Compassion after Trauma & Heartbreak

by Jessica Candelaria Lipsey

Individuals who have experienced tragic or traumatic events in their life often struggle with self-hatred or intense shame.  These core feelings prevent self-love and compassion, ultimately postponing healthy, desirable relationships.  Furthermore, if someone has experienced trauma and lacks healthy coping skills, they are more likely to use alcohol or other substances to self-medicate.

Over 80% of individuals with alcohol or other drug problems have experienced trauma or abuse in their past. Part of gaining long term recovery often means working through the effects of trauma or abuse.  This is a process effectively mastered in the counseling setting.  Bringing up any trauma or abuse can be re-traumatizing (if not done correctly); therefore, it is vital to do this with a professional. This is especially true for individuals trying to stay clean and sober, as it can be a major trigger for relapse.

One major component in healing from past trauma is learning how to develop compassion.  Most importantly compassion and love for yourself.  Once we learn how to love ourselves, and accept ourselves entirely, then we are capable of truly caring for others. We can’t fill anyone else’s cup if ours is empty.

Compassion is absolutely necessary in successful relationships.  Let’s say our partner has said something hurtful but genuinely apologized, and we just cannot find it in ourselves to forgive this behavior.  The hardest time to have compassion for another is usually when they have done something unkind.  Hurt people, hurt people; but when someone has hurt us it is helpful to remember they are not […]

  • How to Make a Happy New Year How to Make a Happy New Year

    How to Make a Happy New Year

How to Make a Happy New Year

How to Make a Happy New Year and Accomplish your Goals!

Happy New Year! Let’s analyze this expression that we hear and say so often. Happy. That’s the goal for the New Year isn’t it? I mean, we have goals and New Year’s Resolutions but the ultimate goal that we aim to achieve if we achieve our goals is that first word, happy, right? 2nd word, New. Yes, renewal. NEW. We’re done with the old: old ways of thinking, feeling, old way of looking, old habits. New! New is what we want! Year. Yes, we have one year to make this happen. (Only one year? We better get started!) This is the YEAR to make it all happen! So how? We often give up on our resolutions after a few weeks, so how do we keep them going strong for a whole year? These tips and tricks can help you have a truly Happy and truly New Year.


Commit and re-commit.

Commit to your goal. No matter what it is, commit. How? Every single day commit to your goal in three ways: first, define the goal. My goal is _____________. This keeps the goal fresh in your mind DAILY. Second, imagine what it would be like to have the goal. Feels good doesn’t it? Third, imagine NOT having the goal done. Ask yourself, how would I feel for this year to end and not have achieved this? If it’s not a big deal you may have to re-evaluate your goal. It’s important to do this daily so you don’t (conveniently) forget your goal one day.

There are no short cuts.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. Success is the accumulation […]

By |January 5th, 2017|Adults, Articles|0 Comments

How to Accomplish your New Year’s Resolution

How to Accomplish your New Year’s Resolution

Every year, hundreds and thousands of people create New Year’s resolutions. Everyone is excited and looking forward to a fresh start. They are pumped and motivated for change. But what really happens when the New Year arrives?

January begins and you re-commit or sign-up for a gym membership, you decide to start a healthier diet and make plans to create a new and more fulfilled you. Then February rolls around and your initial motivation is dwindling. In April you still believe you can achieve your goals but you find yourself busier and pushing them off. June pops out of nowhere and you feel discouraged and guilty for the lack of accomplishments. In October you have completely given up hope and most likely forgotten what was on your original list. Finally, you are in December approaching January 1st again. The cycle continues. So how do you break this cycle?

A simple way to break this vicious pattern is to create better and S.M.A.R.T.(er) goals. According to George T. Doran a S.M.A.R.T. goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.


Specific: It is important to be as specific as possible when developing your goals for the new year. It is a lot easier to follow something that is very narrow and clear than something that is vague and abstract. For example: “ My goal is to be happier.” versus “My goal is to hang out with friends on the weekends, so I feel happier and less stressed during the week.”

Measurable: You want to create goals that you can […]

By |December 13th, 2016|Articles|0 Comments

Holiday Survival Guide: Tossing the Stress and Gaining the Joy | Orlando Anxiety Counseling

Holiday Survival Guide: Tossing the Stress and Gaining the Joy | Orlando Anxiety Counseling

The holidays can be a blissful time…yet it can also be a time of mounting pressure, stress, and high-time anxiety. Here are a few tips to survive and actually enjoy the holiday season.

stress, anxiety, anger, orlando, maitland

Delegate: You feel more pressure because there is more pressure. Everything does not have to be on your shoulders. Take a load off by delegating tasks that you are willing to release to other family members or helpers. For example, ask your spouse to pick up gifts from various stores while you are at home setting up for visitors.

Limit your tasks: Be realistic with yourself and evaluate your task load. You may want to do everything on your list but is it really possible without losing your marbles or feeling highly irritable. For instance, this year you are hosting Christmas dinner. You may feel less stressed if you are not in charge of making every or almost every dish for dinner as well as setting up your house to host. Limit your to-do list!

Be kind to yourself: During the holiday season people’s level of perfectionism kicks up a notch or two. Remind yourself that everything does not have to be perfect. If you bake a batch of cookies and few come out oddly shaped…it is okay. You do not need to throw away the whole batch and start over. People will still enjoy those cookies. Be gracious and kind to yourself. The holiday season is not ruined if you have misshaped cookies.

Just say no!: Do not be disillusioned into believing you have […]

By |December 8th, 2016|Articles|0 Comments

Dealing with Loss During the Holidays | Orlando Grief Counseling

Dealing with Loss During the Holidays | Orlando Grief Counseling

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…It’s the hap-happiest season of all.” These lyrics maybe true for many but certainly not for all. The holiday season can be a great time, but it can also be one of the most difficult seasons for those who have suffered loss. Whether the loss was recent or years ago, you may be struggling because grief is resurfacing. The emphasis on family gatherings and joyous traditions can remind you of your lost loved one. How can you cope with this season well and not suffer through it? Here are a few tips to help deal with loss during the holidays.

grief, loss, anger, holidays

  1. Don’t should on yourself! It is important to be understanding and kind to yourself during this season. This is a tough time period for you as mixed emotions arise. Do not should on yourself by saying statements like, “I should’ve attend this event, baked these cookies, or be happier during the holidays.” Be gracious to yourself as you would for any friend that has suffered loss instead of shaming or berating yourself.
  2. Allow yourself to feel: If you are happy today, be happy. If you are sad today, be sad. Stuffing your emotions and masking it behind a smile can be one of the worst things for you. Eventually, you will run out of room to stuff and explode or have a melt down. Once again, you may be going through an array of emotions. It is okay if you feel spirited and joyous one moment and sadness or pain the next.
  3. […]

By |November 30th, 2016|Articles|0 Comments

Beat the Holiday Stress for Blended Families & Time Sharing

Beat the Holiday Stress for Blended Families & Time Sharing

The holidays can be a stressful time for blended families. Whether your family has gone through a recent divorce/separation, or not, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with stress and anxiety about the holidays and making it all work. Here are 5 ways to beat the holiday stress for blended families and time sharing.

blended families, holiday stress, anxiety, families, orlando


Be open and honest in discussing upcoming holiday events and time sharing. Discuss the time share schedule, drop off and pick up times and locations. Set a doable budget for holiday spending and who will be doing the actual shopping.

Accept what you can’t change

In most cases, one parent may not be able to spend time with the children, due to the time-sharing schedule which can be hard. Be realistic that this is not the ex-spouses fault.  If possible make plans to call, face time or email the children on the given holiday.  Accept that this is not the end of the world you will see the children during your scheduled time.

Avoid Acting Out

Remain focused on the well-being of your children for the holidays. Do all that you can to avoid arguing or saying negative comments about the other parent. You know what conversations could trigger you to act out therefore avoid those traps at all cost.


If gift giving is a family tradition, be sure that all the children receive gifts, those living there full time and part time. There should also not be a major difference in the gifts that the children receive. Splitting the cost […]

By |November 17th, 2016|Articles|0 Comments

This is Us: How to help your child when facing cultural differences

This is Us: How to Help your Child when Facing Cultural Differences

I recently got sucked into a new fall show called This is Us. I am loving it so far as the tear-jerking moments tug at my heartstrings. But, the show is not just about creating sappy moments and making viewers cry. The show really hones in on topics real people struggle with, anywhere from body-image to abandonment issues. In particular, the fifth episode, titled the pool directs viewers to recent headline problems, race-related issues.

In the episode, viewers are made aware of the difficulties Randall (one of the main characters) experiences as a black man in a white suburban society. The issue is explored from his point of view as an adult and as a child. Feelings of loneliness and desire for belonging is a target area the show explores.

**spoiler alert** In the show, Randall struggles as an adopted child because he is a black boy in a white family. His childhood experiences bleeds into his adult life as he faces present day issues of race-related prejudices and microaggressions. As much as Randall’s parents wanted to take of care and protect him, he still experienced the difficulties of being different. He faced the reality of his differences everyday.

Feelings of loneliness and the desire to belong does not just affect those who are adopted.  Many people who are culturally different from their surroundings or are intermixed with different cultures struggle or face the same difficulties of belonging. It almost seems inevitable. As a parent, the big question and concern comes […]

By |November 3rd, 2016|Articles|0 Comments

Tips for Managing Anxiety | Orlando Anxiety Counseling

Tips for Managing Anxiety 

Anxiety can be such a scary feeling especially when it starts to overwhelm and take over your daily life. The loss of control is paralyzing which can perpetuate or increase the anxious feelings. The problem with anxiety is that when you feel out of control and helpless it makes you panic even more, perpetuating the cycle. Today I will be sharing with you a few tips I give in my counseling sessions to help you better manage anxiety and to feel more relaxed.

  1. I-Spy with my little eyes…

The biggest task with decreasing anxiety is pulling yourself away from triggering thoughts. One way to pull yourself away is by playing I-spy. Distract your anxiety provoking thoughts by asking yourself to describe the room in as much detail as possible. For example, describe the types of chairs in the room, what are the colors or textures of the walls, how many electronic devices are there, what are the devices, etc. The more you engage yourself in this activity the more you can pull yourself away from the fear inducing thoughts. Do this for at least 2-3 minutes until you notice yourself decreasing in emotions and physical symptoms.

  1. Categories Game

Another technique to distract yourself from negative thinking is to list things in a specific category. When you notice your anxiety increasing start naming as many things as possible in a specific category such as animals, fruits, or celebrities. You can even make the task more challenging by listing things in alphabetical order. Once again this will pull you out of […]

By |November 2nd, 2016|Articles|0 Comments

Overcoming Challenges in Blended Families

Overcoming Challenges in Blended Families

In blended families there are numerous challenges in becoming a family in harmony. The first relationship that must have a firm foundation is between the biological and step parents. In blended families there tends to be issues of anger, resentment and bitterness in the beginning. As step parents face these challenges strife can come in the marriage which in turn causes emotional separation. Below are a few tips that you could implement today to start a new path to bring unity within your blended family.

1. Be Intentional.

Make the decision that the two of you will support each other. In order to do this the two of you must have ongoing consistent communication.

2. No Visible Arguing.

Disagreements may occur, but do not allow the children to see or hear the two of you arguing with each   other.

3. Understanding.

Commit to having family meetings to resolve conflict by having a mutual understanding within the family unit. This can sometimes best happen with a counselor or mediator present, to allow everyone the opportunity to speak and feel heard.

4. Communication.

Be mindful of your communication with your step children and spouse. ie: words and body language.

5.  Understand that you are the step parent and do not need to validate your position.

In place of trying to validate who you are in your step children’s lives, simply show them love and acceptance through action.

Remember, you and your spouse are on the same team. You both want to see the family grow and have safe and healthy relationships. If you find that […]

By |November 1st, 2016|Articles|0 Comments
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    Battling Indecision | 5 Steps to Help You Make Big Decisions Battling Indecision | 5 Steps to Help You Make Big Decisions

    Battling Indecision | 5 Steps to Help You Make Big Decisions

Battling Indecision | 5 Steps to Help You Make Big Decisions

Battling Indecision | 5 Steps to Help You Make Big Decisions

Everyone has experienced a point in their life where they find themselves extremely indecisive and stuck. A decision as small as “What should I eat today?” to something as big as “Should I change jobs?” Sometimes, the big decisions in life can paralyze and weigh you down. You do not want to make the wrong decision, but at the same time, you are not making any decisions. You are stuck! All the while you to feel anxious, stressed, and fearful about the big decision. What can you do? Here are 5 steps you can implement to help you overcome the fear and make big decisions!

  1. Research

Spend some time researching the options for your predicament. It is important to be informed. It may be scary but be aware! Burying your head in the sand will not give you the best solution. Ignorance is surely not bliss. Set yourself a specific time frame, days or hours, for what you are researching. The internet is glorious but it can also be a black hole. Set a limit for yourself so you do not overindulge in research. You do not want research to become a roadblock from actually making a decision. You have to remind yourself that it is important to be informed but it is impossible to know everything.

  1. Pros and Cons

A good ol’ pros and cons list. Often times, we make pros and cons in our heads but it’s important to actually sit down and write it out. When you write out all the benefits or drawbacks then you can see a clearer picture of the situation. Make sure to write out all […]

By |October 13th, 2016|Articles|0 Comments