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Author: admat

Fierce self-care

Have you ever owned something you took excellent care of, like an heirloom, a favorite sweater, an automobile, or a beloved pet? When we cherish something, we pay attention to its needs and avoid doing things that could harm it. Unfortunately, people often pour more love into others and things than they do for themselves.

What if I told you that I cherish my cat, but I don’t adequately feed or groom her? I don’t take the time to pet or talk to her, and I haven’t taken her to the veterinarian in a long time. You would probably say, “Actions speak louder than words.”

What do your actions towards yourself communicate? Do you make time for rest and relaxation, or are you always rushing from one task to another? Do you have any hobbies or interests, or is it all work and no play? Are you someone who always prioritizes others over yourself, neglecting your self-care? Is your lack of self-care evident through poor health, inconsistent grooming, lack of leisure activities, dull complexion, overweight, and lack of friends?

I always say, “Live with no regrets.” The person who lacks self-care has or will have many of them because they have neglected to care for one of the most precious things that God has given them, THEMSELVES. If we don’t take proper care of ourselves, we won’t be able to climb mountains for long, and we will miss out on healthy, fun times cultivating our inner qualities and delighting in those of others.

To build self-esteem, it is essential to practice self-care. However, some people may not prioritize self-care because they feel they are not worthy enough to spend time on themselves. This feeling of unworthiness may be a result of growing up in an environment where parents neglected their own self-care needs and instead focused on caring for others, often putting themselves last.

To develop a self-care habit, start small and create lasting habits. Here are some small ways to begin your self-care routine.

  1. Each day, list five things that you are grateful for.
  2. Read something for fun.
  3. Go for a short walk.
  4. Schedule a friend date.
  5. Practice deep breathing.
  6. Buy and indoor plant.
  7. Lotion your entire body.
  8. Practice yoga.
  9. Take a bubble bath.
  10. Plan a staycation – (a vacation around home).

Self-esteem and Dating

I doubt your parents ever told you to choose a spouse with good self-esteem. They may have advised you to find someone who is kind, hardworking, has a lovely family, likes children, or is good with money. However, they probably didn’t mention the importance of checking their self-esteem, self-compassion, or self-confidence.

Self-esteem is a crucial quality in a partner because it indicates good emotional health and the ability to love others. Essentially, individuals can only love others as much as they love themselves. As Jesus said in Mark 12:31, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If we don’t love ourselves, it becomes difficult to love others.

So, how can you tell if someone has good self-esteem? Observe how they treat themselves and others. Do they prioritize others over themselves? Do they speak kindly to others? Do they say positive things about themselves, or do they criticize themselves? A person with good self-esteem will be realistic about others’ imperfections and understanding about their own mistakes and failures. They will not fall apart when they don’t meet their own expectations, nor be overly critical of others who fail.

A person with good self-esteem will recognize their inner strengths. They will not judge others by external standards and recognize that they are more than just their material accomplishments. They will conduct themselves with kindness and respect towards themselves and others. Their self-confidence will help them remain emotionally stable, even during life’s most difficult storms.

Let’s Fail!

Failure is an inevitable part of life. It can be discouraging and demotivating, but it can also be the stepping stone to success. Failure teaches us valuable lessons, allowing us to learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves. We can analyze what went wrong, identify our weaknesses, and devise a plan to do better next time. Learning from failure can help us grow and become better equipped to face future challenges. Failure can be a lonely experience, so it’s helpful to surround ourselves with people on similar paths in life who can help and encourage us.

Furthermore, failure helps us build resilience and toughen up, preparing us for the inevitable setbacks we will face. When we experience disappointment and come out the other side, we develop a sense of strength and perseverance that can help us overcome future obstacles. We must not let our critical voice stop us from getting back up and trying again. We want to fail forward and not allow mistakes to stop us in our tracks.

In addition, failure can lead to unexpected opportunities. Sometimes, when things don’t go as planned, we are forced to think outside the box and devise creative solutions. This can lead to new ideas and opportunities that we may not have considered otherwise.

Lastly, failure is a reminder that we are human. We are not perfect, and we will make mistakes. Failure can help us develop humility and empathy towards others who are going through similar struggles. It can also help us recognize that success is not always a straight line and that the journey towards achieving our goals is just as important as the destination.

In conclusion, failure is not something to be feared or avoided. It is a natural part of the learning process and can help us grow, develop resilience, discover new opportunities, and appreciate the journey towards success.

Tips to Overcome Your Inner Critic

One awesome strategy to help battle your inner critic is to challenge its negative thoughts. Whenever your inner critic tells you that you’re not good enough, ask yourself what evidence supports that claim. You’ll often find little or no evidence to support these negative thoughts. By challenging them, you can change your self-talk and build self-confidence. Another great technique is to practice self-compassion. Try treating yourself with the kindness and understanding that you would offer to a good friend. Remember, we all make mistakes and have our flaws. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall short of your expectations. By practicing self-compassion, you can reduce the power of your inner critic and build a more positive relationship with yourself. Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it. Talk to friends, family, or a therapist about your struggles with self-doubt. Sometimes, just talking about your feelings can help you gain perspective and feel less alone. Remember, everyone experiences self-doubt at some point in their lives. You’re not alone! By following these tips, you can learn to conquer your inner critic and gain more self-confidence. So the next time your inner critic starts to speak up, challenge those negative thoughts, practice self-compassion, and reach out for support. You got this, friend!

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is a term used to describe an individual’s perception of themselves. It is a combination of their positive and realistic evaluation of their abilities, worth, and potential. The term was coined by William James, a philosopher and psychologist, who defined self-esteem as a measure of success divided by our aspirations, which include our goals, values, and beliefs about our potential.

The development of self-esteem is a dynamic process that depends on how an individual perceives their accomplishments and how it aligns with their expectations. If an individual surpasses their expectations and achieves their goals, it usually boosts their self-esteem. Conversely, if they do not meet their high expectations, they may feel like failures, leading to low self-esteem.

Self-esteem is also a crucial component of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. According to Abraham Maslow, a renowned psychologist, self-esteem is a fundamental human need or motivation that plays a vital role in shaping a person’s life. He identified two types of esteem: the need for respect from others and self-respect, also known as inner self-esteem. Recognition, acceptance, status, and appreciation are all components of respect for others, which Maslow considered more delicate and easily lost than inner self-esteem. He argued that without fulfilling the self-esteem need, individuals would be compelled to pursue it and unable to develop and achieve self-actualization.

Having good self-esteem is essential for an individual’s well-being, motivation, and overall quality of life. It affects how one views themselves, their relationships with others, and their ability to achieve their goals. Having too much or too little self-esteem can be problematic. Therefore, it is crucial to understand one’s level of self-esteem to balance it for optimal results.

 In conclusion, self-esteem is a complex and dynamic process that plays a crucial role in shaping an individual’s life. It is vital to understand its components, development, and impact to develop and maintain a healthy sense of self-esteem.

Is Ecotherapy Right For You?

4 Key Benefits to Consider

As our world becomes more technologically advanced, connecting with nature becomes harder and harder. You might find yourself sifting through emails, scrolling social media, and unwinding by watching a movie. Perhaps you’ve felt stress after spending so much time with technology and turned to gardening or hiking as a way to relax.

It’s no coincidence that nature makes you feel better. Time spent outside gives you a sense of calm and boosts your mood. When you take to the outdoors in this way, you’re practicing ecotherapy – an emerging specialty within the therapy space.

What is Ecotherapy?

Ecotherapy, also referred to as nature-based psychotherapy, is a therapeutic approach that utilizes natural settings, processes, or activities and focuses on helping you connect to the environment and nature. Through this practice of nature therapy, you connect with the ecological aspects of yourself, including how you act and how you identify. Ecotherapy can take place on various scales – personal to planetary – and in many ways – animal-assisted therapy, outdoor meditation, outdoor art, and more.

Ecopsychology is centered around the concept that people are naturally profoundly connected to the earth and the environment. When we ignore this connection and fail to spend time with nature, our mental health and overall well-being are negatively affected.

Even with this knowledge, it can be hard to bridge this gap on your own. In nature-based psychotherapy, you have the assistance of a therapist. You create a certain triangularity of relationship between the therapist, yourself, and your world. This relationship is collaborative and equalizing – with the therapist’s help, you can find ways that feel authentic for you to connect with the natural world.

Benefits of Ecotherapy

1.   Combats Nature Deficit Disorder

The technological changes of the last few decades have accelerated our detachment from the natural world, especially in industrial cultures. Nature deficit disorder contributes to difficulties with attention, reduced use of the senses, and higher rates of physical and emotional illness.

Research shows us that even small doses of outdoor therapy can lead to serious healing. It brings us immense joy in the mind, body, and soul.

2.   Lowers Stress and Boosts Well-Being

Technology is often involved in situations that bring us stress. Scrolling social media leads to comparing yourself to others. Emails bring you news of pressing work deadlines, and so on.

Nature therapy gives you an opportunity to escape these settings. As you spend time outside, you realize that your worries are small compared to the world around you, and you find yourself ruminating far less, lowering your stress levels.

For example, a 2019 ecopsychology study of patients at a psychiatric hospital benefited immensely from gardening. They reported that they experienced improvements in mood, felt calmer, gained a better understanding of their mental health, and felt a sense of belonging.

3.   Provides a Sense of Unity and Spiritual Connection

Feeling a connection to God and finding purpose are key aspects of your overall health. As is a sense of unification between your feelings, thoughts, actions, and spirit. When you feel aligned, you feel at peace.

Spending time outside via nature-based psychotherapy reminds us of the beauty and size of the earth. Perhaps it makes you think of God who created it – perhaps it simply helps you see that your day-to-day troubles are less significant than you previously thought. Either way, you see that there’s something greater at work, and you can connect to it every time you go outside.

Nature also tends to unify your inner and outer self. Thinking about nature’s beauty, feeling gratitude for it, and actively doing something outdoors can bring that key sense of alignment.

Where Can You Get Ecotherapy?

Outdoor therapy is a new specialty that I offer at Elysian Counseling. As a psychotherapist, I provide individual, family, and group therapy. I choose to take a holistic approach – we work on your overall health by caring for your mind, body, and soul.

Ecotherapy is just one useful tool we can use to help you move down a new, positive path in life. Ready to get started? Read more about my services here or contact me today.



Dead Bugs

“Look at the beautiful bluebonnets,” I said, pointing at the vibrant patches along the freeway.

My son, Noah, who was sitting in the back seat, said, “Mommy, I can’t see them through your dirty windshield.”

“You’re right, the bird poop makes it tough to see. I’ll clean it off when we stop and get gas.”

My husband, the scientist, spoke up. “It’s not bird poop, but the remains of dead bugs whose bodies disintegrated as they hit the glass.” He went on to explain how the pressure created by my 70 mph speed caused their bodies to explode. As if I really wanted to know.

As I continued driving, I thought about how obstacles in life can obscure our vision, just like dead bugs.

The residue of trials—discouragement, fear, and pain—can muddy the lens through which we view the Savior and His precious promises.

When we concentrate on the negative, it’s difficult to see the beauty and wonder that God places before us or envision the possibilities that lie beyond the hardships of yesterday and today.

Our only alternative is to pull over and wash our windshield. We may not be able to forget the past, but by changing our focus we prevent it from distorting the future.

Like the apostle Paul said in Phil. 3:14, we have to press toward our goals. Our goals lie ahead not behind us. God wants us take two steps forward. This is difficult to do when we are looking back.

We must also resolve to forgive those who have wronged us and to forgive ourselves. When hurts are deep this can be a difficult thing to do, but we must remember that forgiveness is a process. We have to work toward releasing the pain each day so we can allow room in our hearts for the peace and joy of Christ.

And remember the biggest advantage of a clean windshield—we can see the beautiful bluebonnets all around us.

Song of Songs 2:12,13

For, lo, the winter is past; The rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth. The time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land.

Dwan Reed, PhD, LCSW, DTM, of Tallae Counseling & Wellness Center is a therapist specializing in Depression Counseling in Spring, TX

Copyright 2010 by Dwan Reed. All rights reserved.

A Prayer in the Life of a Preacher’s Wife

The following article appears in Guideposts’ True Stories of Extraordinary Answers to Prayer – Unexpected Answers.

When I listened to our tone-deaf song leader screech, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound…”, I prayed, Dear God, please help me to endure this racket.

When I looked around the church and saw many gray heads and only a few children, I prayed, Dear Lord, help my husband to see there are better ministries we can be a part of.

When I asked for volunteers to help with the prison ministry and no one raised a hand, I said, Dear Lord, wake these people up to Christianity.

Each week, my prayer list grew longer. I could recite all of the things wrong with our church—no children’s ministry, more needs than benevolence, boring Bible classes, no church secretary, few young couples, defective air conditioner…

Whenever I had opportunity, I petitioned my husband. “Thomas, the church is dead. Why don’t we go somewhere that’s more spirited?”

He’d say, “Be patient. Things will change. You’ll see. But first we’ve got work to do.”

Work to do? Didn’t he realize it would take a submarine invasion, air raid, and nuclear battle to change this congregation?

Couldn’t he see the majority of the Vacation Bible School attendees were over seventy years old, the number of people coming to Wednesday night class could fit in our guest bathroom, and the yearly contribution was not enough to pay for the leaky roof?

I wondered, Why me? I never signed up for this ministry. The only reason I assisted was because I’m the minister’s wife.

My stomach felt unsettled as I recognized marriage to Thomas meant that I was betrothed to the church. I swallowed hard realizing that I couldn’t divorce the congregation.

Every fifth Sunday, we have a fellowship after service. One afternoon as I watched members crowded around the card tables with their plates piled high with barbeque, potato salad, baked beans, and banana pudding, I pondered, Why do they continue to attend? What is it about this church that brings them back again and again?

I listened to laughter and the musical exchange of conversation from table to table. I studied smiles and the glow on faces as people sat shoulder to shoulder. I glimpsed hugs, pats on the back, and hands squeezed in gentle encouragement.

As gray heads dined with thick black tresses, feeble legs with strong, dim eyes with bright, the tenderness and acceptance that warmed the frosty room—cooled by that defective air conditioner—also thawed my chilly heart.

I realized I had seen all the things that were wrong with our church without recognizing the things that were right.

I again bowed my head in prayer. “Dear God, please forgive me. You placed the beauty of your Spirit before me, and I failed to notice. I looked for your grandeur in ministries, numbers, and the comfort of the building but failed to recognize the jewels placed in the hearts of each member of our congregation.”

I suddenly thought of the words in I Corinthians 1:28-29, “God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”

I bowed my head again and asked God to help me be like those people as I strive to understand His amazing grace, veiled beneath the sights and sounds of an imperfect church.

Copyright 2010 by Dwan Reed. All rights reserved.

Thank God for Ugly Feet

There are two situations in life when strangers tend to bare their souls—When you’re sitting next to them on an airplane and when they see you wearing a black orthopedic boot.

I consider myself attractive, but my feet—that’s another story. I remember when my first serious boyfriend saw me in sandals. After choking with laughter, he howled, “Your feet, they look like hands.”

I’m not sure why God gave me size 10, flat, narrow feet with abnormally long toes, but I think it has something to do with His sense of humor. What would the world be like if we were all completely normal. Quite boring, I imagine.

As a child, I longed for a daintier pair of feet. In middle school, we read about foot binding in China. I thought this might be the cure to my rapidly growing feet but decided I couldn’t’ endure having my toes broken and bound underneath my soles with bandages.

Eventually, I accepted my “sasquatch feet” (as affectionately referred to by my father). I learned how to avoid drawing attention to them by not painting my toenails or wearing open toe sandals. I mastered the art of bending my double-jointed toes underneath my feet. This especially came in handy when encountering a cute guy on the beach.

I never imagined that my feet could get any uglier, but they did. After years of wearing shoes not made for big, flat, narrow feet, I developed a matching pair of bunions at the base of my big toes. These bony protuberances stuck out like sore thumbs. To make matters worse, they caused my toes to angle outward, giving an odd slant to my feet.
Not only did bunions make my feet look like Tyrannosaurus Rex remains, they hurt. It became impossible for me to wear heels or anything not made of soft leather or rubber. I knew I had to do something to alleviate the pain.

Although I’ve never been a fan of the knife, I decided to take the plunge. I selected the most painful foot for surgery. After a speedy outpatient procedure and one week in bed, I was up hobbling around with newly embedded screws in my foot.

As I ventured out into the world wearing my black orthopedic boot, I noticed right away that something was different. Strangers smiled at me. Many stopped to ask, “Did you bleed much?” “How long do you have to wear that boot?” “Are you in pain right now?” “Who did your surgery?

Some took off their shoes to show reveal their own battered feet.

“Look, I need surgery too. Eventually I’ll get up the courage.”

“Were your bunions as bad as mine?”

“See my hammer toe and ingrown toenails. Does your doctor work on those too?”

I was surprised that people were so willing to expose their feet, many of which were more hideous than mine. For years, I hid beneath clunky clogs and tall boots, but strangers were unabashedly exhibiting some of the grotesque deformities I’d ever seen. I wondered where their confidence came from.

I thought about Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. He didn’t say, “No, John. Step aside. You have corns and calluses.” Or “Luke, I don’t want to touch your sweaty feet and nasty bone spurs.”

He demonstrated that he is willing to touch us, even in places we’re not proud of. He is willing to love us—bunions and all.

When the Savior gazes at us, he doesn’t see our deficiencies. He sees the beauty of our souls. The imperfections of our earthly bodies are of little concern to Jesus. After all, He promises to one day give us beautiful eternal ones.

I Cor. 15:50-52, “…Let me tell you a secret. Not all of us will die, but all of us will be changed— in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will be raised never to decay, and we will be changed.”

When my orthopedic doctor gave me permission to retire my black boot, I had my toenails painted. Two years later, I am wearing bright red polish and open toe sandals. I no longer view my feet as a shortcoming but as proof of God’s unconditional acceptance. I rejoice in my imperfections because they are a reminder of God’s love.

Thank God for ugly feet.

Copyright 2010 by Dwan Reed. All rights reserved.

Surviving Spiritual Storm Season

“Have you been watching the news?” asked my husband, Thomas.

“No, I’m unpacking.”

“Well, there’s a hurricane heading this way,” he said.

“You’re joking,” I laughed. We just got here.”

Thomas was silent.

“Are you still there,” I asked.

He sighed. “We better get things ready. I’ll be home soon.”

It was October 1, 2002. A tropical disturbance that appeared in the open Atlantic on September 21st began traveling toward New Orleans as a category 2 Hurricane. Hurricane Lili, as named by the National Weather Center, was predicted to be a four or five by landfall.

“How are we going to prepare for this storm?” I thought, while sitting in the middle of a living room filled with boxes from our recent move to New Orleans.

I had no clue. The only natural disasters we faced in my hometown of St. Louis were tornados. When the storm warnings sounded, we would hide in the basement or a bathtub. I doubted that approach would work with a tropical cyclone in a city one to sixteen feet below sea level, depending upon where you are standing.

I knocked on my next-door neighbor’s door. He appeared in dark green rain boots and a waterproof hat, even though the sky was still clear.

“Hi, Mr. Benny”

“Hello, Mrs. Reed. What can I do for you?” he said looking at his watch.

“Well, as you know we’re not from around here. And we’ve never experienced a hurricane. Can you tell me how to prepare for the storm?”

“Okay, you need a raft, one month’s supply of water, a generator, tarp, flares, coals and logs, a tent…”

Mr. Benny’s survival list would either prepare me for Hurricane Lili or Armageddon.

I knocked on another neighbor’s door.

“Excuse me, but I forgot your name.”

“I’m Sherry,” she said.

“Oh, okay, I’m Dwan. Would you mind giving me some advice on how to prepare for this crazy cyclone heading our way?”

“Sure, Honey. You need some tape for your windows, canned goods, one week supply of water, and the usuals—batteries, flashlights, etc.”

“I noticed you just said one week’s supply of water and you didn’t mention a raft or a tent.”

She laughed. “You must have been talking to Mr. Benny across the street. I’ve lived in New Orleans for years and I’ve never had to raft my way out of here and the stores usually only shut down for a week so you don’t need a lot of supplies.”

I was really confused. How could two New Orleans natives have such different opinions on how to prepare for a hurricane?


The same is true regarding spiritual storms. Just as people’s opinions vary on how to prepare for a hurricane, they also differ on how to plan for obstacles. But, God’s word makes it plain.

The Bible tells us to:

Use a spiritual-tracking guide to assess where tropical disturbances are brewing.
I Cor. 10:12,13,“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.”(ASV)

We all have potential whirlwinds in our life. If we’re not careful, cyclones will rise up that could have been avoided.

To prevent tempests, examine your life and ask yourself questions like this: How is my marriage? What are my children struggling with? Am I a good steward of God’s blessings? What relationships need improving on my job? How much time do I spend in prayer and Bible study? What are my spiritual goals? Am I taking proper care of my earthen vessel?

If any of these areas exhibit a low-pressure system, seek God’s help immediately!

Learn to recognize God’s voice.
In the height of a storm, gale force winds rage, showers pound, thunder quakes, and hail cracks. With all the clatter, it’s easy to misunderstand what we hear. A violent surge of wind can mimic a knock at the door. Branches scraping a window can sound like voices. A twister can imitate the roar of a freight train.

Spiritual storms can be noisy too. God calls out to us as the winds rage, but so does Satan. When we’re not familiar with the Savior’s will, it’s easy to follow the wrong path.

No one can lead us astray when we are grounded in Truth. By studying the scriptures daily and learning God’s will, we can clearly His voice when trials and tribulations assail us. His words contain the spiritual solution for any issue we encounter.

The Bible is our life jacket. The Lord’s message brings peace, healing, and meaning to our lives. We come through the storms of life victorious, growing in faith, hope, and love day by day.

John 10:3-5, “The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”(The Message)


Hurricane Lili peaked at a category four in the Gulf, but by the time it reached New Orleans on October 3, 2008, it was a one. Although a minor hurricane, the city suffered significant damage from gale force winds and flooding.

It’s difficult to know how big or small a storm will be before it makes landfall. Yet despite our lack of information, we must get ready. When prepared, we’re better able to face the difficulties that lie ahead and grow spiritually from each cyclone, tornado, or hurricane that comes our way.

Copyright 2010 by Dwan Reed. All rights reserved.