Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Cut 4 Bieber: Why Fans Are Hurting Themselves

posted by Linda Mintle

Bieber fever has spiked  a dangerous high in the past week. #Cut4Bieber began trending as a prompt for female fans to cut themselves in order to protest Bieber’s alleged smoking of pot. Beiber was caught on camera holding what looked like a joint, so an anonymous source began a campaign on a message board encouraging Bieber fans to cut in protest. According to Topsy (a trending tracker site), there were 26,000 hits in 12 hours in response to the idea. Girls were prompted to upload pictures of themselves cutting. Many did–some real and unreal images.

The concern reached such a peak that another celebrity responded. Miley Cyrus tweeted, “CUTTING is not something to joke about. There are people who are actually suffering from self-harm, this is so disrespectful.”

And while I hardly look to Miley Cyrus for any advice on mental health, she is right. Boy Justin did not respond to the accusation directly. He did tweet, “Trying to be better.”

The “joke” represents a new low in American pop culture. Some of you may remember an earlier stunt when someone tweeted that Justin Bieber had cancer and girls should cut their hair to show support. This is really sick. Who would want to encourage teen girls to cut themselves or use a false report of cancer to garner sympathy?

More importantly, we need to attend to the girls who would actually engage in such behavior in response to misguided pop star admiration. This is dangerous idolatry!

Self-injury is a real mental health problem that I have treated numerous times in my therapy practice.

Girls who self-harm often do so because they feel emotionally distant or invalidated by their parents. Some are rewarded for this behavior by a peer group that also engages in self-harm as a coping mechanism for stress and feelings of disconnection. Others describe feeling “dead” inside or invisible to parents, and feel alive or confirmed in their existence when they cut. For many, cutting is a way to manage overly demanding parents.

Self-mutilation is often hidden under clothing. Cutting usually takes place on the arms, thighs and legs and/or the abdomen. A sibling might notice the marks or a parent may find a razor or sharp object in the adolescent’s room. And if a teen has a habit of becoming highly distressed and locking herself in her bedroom, she may be inflicting self-harm as a form of self-punishment. This is often the case with the eating disorder girls I have treated. They would rather harm themselves than openly deal with a conflict or challenge a parent.

Obviously, self-harm requires intervention by a mental health professional. The best treatment is family therapy with a skilled and trained family therapist. Therapy usually focuses on improving family communication, lessening expectations and demands, teaching conflict resolution, problem-solving and developing closer and more meaningful relationships with parents and siblings.

In addition to family therapy, girls who self-harm have to learn to identify the triggers that lead to cutting, learn to control their thoughts and solve problems. They need to be taught that harming themselves is not an appropriate way to feel alive or cope with emotional pain.

Spiritually, feeling connected to God, their Father and developing an intimacy with God is the best way to feel validated and alive. Understanding that God unconditionally accepts them regardless of their accomplishments, accepts their failures, promises peace in the middle of their emotional storms and is always present and willing to help can be life changing. The momentary “high” that comes from cutting can be replaced with God’s peace and transforming power. Learning to bring all burdens to the cross is key. The truth is that the blood of Jesus has already been spilled and no other blood sacrifice is required.

 

Trigger Happy Mom or Failed Penal System?

posted by Linda Mintle

An Atlanta mom hides her kids in a crawl space and armed herself to take on an intruder. Yet, MSN reports the mom as a trigger happy woman!

So let’s understand this. A man knocks on her door. She believes it is a solicitor and tells her kids not to answer the door. The person at the door continues to bang on the door and ring the bell. The woman calls her husband. He tells her to hide the kids and then calls 911–smart man!  The intruder then breaks into her house, begins to rummage through her things. When the intruder finds the hiding space, the mom, armed to protect her kids,  opens fire to save her family. That makes her trigger happy?

And what about the intruder? He was released from jail in late August after serving 9 months for simple battery and probation violations. According to his jail records, he had six other arrests since 2008–hardly a first time offender! Maybe this is where the news focus needs to be. What happens to criminals who serve a short sentence and then are released to the streets?

Our penal system is overcrowded and failed. Locking people up and releasing them with no rehab or real accountability is where a major problem lies. What are we doing to address the broken criminal system? Instead of politicians clamoring for gun control and more regulations, how about some real action towards fixing our ailing prison and rehab systems! Talk about broken! Yet, I’ve heard nothing on the news about this incident that raises the awareness of politicians and community groups to take a look at how we deal with criminal behavior. When nothing is done but lock people up, release them for overcrowding, or give them a pass because the system is already overburdened, crime walks into our living rooms.

It’s time to stop blaming the victim, being distracted by gun control arguments, and take a hard look at our penal system.

 

Why I Don’t Make New Year Resolutions

posted by Linda Mintle

It’s been one full week in January and most of you who made New Year Resolutions are already feeling failed Don’t feel bad. I think the idea that once a year we decide to change our lives, is a set up for failure. That is why I don’t make New Year resolutions. Resolutions are simply good intentions. We all have them, but putting them into action requires understanding the process of change.

In order to really make a change, you typically go through these stages:

1) Precontemplation-This is the first stage of change. You may not be ready to even tackle something you would like to change. You have not given it much thought. It’s barely on your radar.

2) Contemplation–This is where most New Year resolutions fall. You know something in your life needs to change. For example, you need to drop those 20 pounds and you are thinking about it. But you have no real action steps to make it happen.

3) Preparation–Time to stop thinking and start acting. This means you’ve got to be intentional and develop ways to make changes that are short, behavioral and attainable.

4) Action--This is where the rubber meets the road. You have to behave in different ways. This step of change takes patience, time, energy and commitment. It requires the type of patience that says, if I fall off my change wagon, I get right back up and keep going in the direction I set forth.

5) Maintenance–This is probably the most difficult part of change. Think about this applied to weight loss. Most of us know what to do to lose weight, but keeping it off means preventing relapse and understanding WHY we do what we do. Otherwise, we revert to old behavior. We tend to do what is comfortable, not always the best for us. So if you’ve dropped a few pounds, start thinking about what it will take to keep those pounds off. Will you need to address emotional eating? WIll you need to get in the gym? Will you need to modify food portion? Etc.

If you are not ready to really go through these stages of change, a New Year’s resolution will feel like one more failed attempt that had good intentions behind it. If you are already there, regroup, review what is involved in change and ask yourself, “Am I ready to commit to the process?”

 

If you need help making changes in your eating, check out Dr. Linda’s Press Pause Before You Eat. Click on the picture above.

What Kardashian Baby News Really Represents

posted by Linda Mintle

The big news this new year? Kim Kardashian is now pregnant with boyfriend, Kanye West. So get ready people, we have nine months of incessant media coverage that will satisfy anyone’s appetite for minutia. Apparently we are completely fascinated with anything Kardashian. In 2012, Kim Kardashian was the third most searched topic.

Kim is certainly not the first celebrity to have a baby out of wedlock, but she is one of few people who seems to garner public interest with every move she makes. And why many people think Kim is all harmless fun and fashion, I think her influence is far sweeping in a different way.

Last year after Kim Kardashian ended her 72 hour marriage to Kris Humphreys, the Christian Post reported Kim went to church. Kim also tweeted that she was going to begin a Bible study with some friends. This Hollywood blend of religion is a confusing concoction of values. The message is that religion doesn’t really impact behavior. And that message has been a problem for the church for many years. From televangelists, priests who molest children to celebrities, hypocrisy isn’t new.  But the glamorizing of hypocrisy is–it is now fashionable. Pull out God when it works, put him in your pocket when you want to do what you want to do. Bring Him in to the picture in a distorted way that confuses people and brings no real hope for change. Just read the lyrics of Kanye West’s huge hit Jesus Walk.

God show me the way because the Devil trying to break me down

(Jesus Walks with me)

The only thing that that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now
(Jesus Walks)
And I don’t think there is nothing I can do now to right my wrongs
(Jesus Walks with me)
I want to talk to God but I’m afraid because we ain’t spoke in so long

There is something that can be done to right a wrong. It’s called repentance, which brings forgiveness. God’s grace erases the sin and a person begins clean. God isn’t scary to talk to–He is full of grace and mercy. Yet the lyrics of this song leave a seeking person confused about God. The devil is trying to break us down, but the Holy Spirit in us, helps us overcome. Where is that hope?

So much of what we see in Hollywood religion is this type of confusion. No real understanding of the true God and the transforming work of the gospel. It’s a gospel of no power where appetites reign supreme.

Pop culture has tremendous influence over a generation. And a generation that is Bible illiterate, refuses to judge sin or even call sin sin, and thinks tolerance means having no standards, is in danger of never seeing the power of the Gospel. Like Jesus Walks, Jesus is present, but powerless to change lives.

How sad. How misguided. How uninformed.

The Kardashian news reminded me to have more conversations with the young adults in my life. How does this brand of religion impact thinking? And while that question may not be consciously on the minds of people, the constant spotlight of glamorizing our feeding of our appetites and doing what feels good with no shame or real fear of God, influences.

The church needs to be talking about this. Not in a way that criticizes sinners, but in a way that sorts through the confusing messages of Christianity in American culture. Jesus walks and talks. His power transforms lives so that the  devil won’t break us down.

The challenge this New Year is to live out that Gospel and show the world the real power of a life transformed by Christ.

 

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