Grieving the End of a Relationship

Grief doesn’t only occur after the death of someone we love. Grief is an intense emotional reaction to the loss of anyone or anything that once defined our lives in a meaningful way. People may experience grief after losing a job, grief for a country or home they no longer live in, or grief after the end of a relationship.

It may seem melodramatic to call the emotions after a breakup grief but no good comes of minimizing our experiences. It is only as we begin to understand and accept our emotions that we can begin gaining enough closure to move on with our lives. Life may not be the same for a long while after the end of a relationship, but grieving is often key to moving forward.

Love with nowhere to go

When someone who brought depth, meaning, and richness to our lives is no longer around, it leaves a void. In grief, this void gets filled with sadness, anxiety, depression, or a collection of coping mechanisms that might cause more harm to us. Someone has described grief as “love with no place to go.”

It’s natural to still feel all of the affection, attraction, and fondness for our ex-partner long after things have ended. After a breakup, this affection gets mixed with resentment, anger, guilt, regret, or hopelessness, or a combination of all of these things. It often feels like we have lost the foundation beneath us. The thought of facing life alone without our comfort person makes us feel exposed and vulnerable, along with all the other feelings.

Emotions are messy

Most of us have no choice but to carry on with life as we try to process the end of a relationship and all the feelings that come with it. Many people cope by compartmentalizing their emotions.

They pack all of their thoughts and feelings into a box, put the box out of sight, and try to continue with work and life as best they can. This can be effective for a short time, but eventually, the sadness and grief end up spilling out into our workplace, home life, or sleep schedule.

When we repress emotions, they have a way of escaping. They might show in the form of insomnia, panic attacks, an affected diet or loss of appetite, or emotional outbursts in front of children, family, or coworkers. Our friendships might begin to suffer as we choose instead to stay in, catch up on sleep, or wallow in sadness and self-pity.

Victim or victor

If the relationship ended badly, with fights and harsh words used as weapons, we may even dwell on our feelings of victimhood. Often, we do this because it can feel like vindication, and we might need that type of closure: vindication. If the relationship was toxic or caused harm to us, dwelling on our feelings of victimhood makes us feel like we did nothing wrong.

This is a way we attempt to get closure, but reliving an emotional end to the relationship doesn’t right any wrongs. Remaining in feelings of being the victim (even when we were the victim), can be regressive. We need to process those feelings in an outward way, not keeping them locked up inside.

There is a different path we need to take if our ex was abusive. In this case, they probably left us with scars that need healing. The best place to begin this journey is in therapy with a licensed counselor who can help us navigate that particular grieving process.

Finding support after the end of a relationship

Sometimes the emotions we face at the end of a relationship are a form of grief. Grief is a complex and often messy process that we must find a way through if we are to continue healthily doing life. Minimizing the emotions we have after a breakup is just as unhelpful as wallowing in negative emotions.

Like other forms of grief, we may have to acknowledge that we will always have a special place in our lives for someone we are no longer connected to. If the relationship was abusive or left us with emotional scars, it is best that we get professional help to heal those wounds. It is entirely possible to continue with life after a hurtful breakup, but it might just take some time.

If you are facing grief after the end of a relationship, you might benefit from speaking to a counselor about it. In counseling, you, as the client, determine the depth to which you go in the sessions. Reach out to us at Huntington Beach Christian Counseling today and we will facilitate finding you a counselor in Huntington Beach, California that you feel comfortable with.

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Navigating Negative Thoughts and Emotions

Navigating negative thoughts and emotions can be like treading water with an anvil or two in tow. When the negative thoughts start, negative emotions follow, and vice versa. Commonly, one or two negative thoughts can lead to more and avalanche into a full heap of negative emotions.

Overwhelming negative thoughts and emotions can lead to difficulty finding calm, peace, and or rest. They can disrupt marriages and relationships of any kind and can make it hard to go to work or participate in regular activities.

Negative thoughts and emotions can come after a crisis or in the middle of an average day when a memory of a negative experience pops up. They can arise during a conversation gone wrong, or during an activity not quite going your way.

Below are some practical tips to help you when your emotions are overwhelming and your thoughts aren’t leading to peace.

Negative thoughts

Negative thoughts, for the sake of this article, are defined as thoughts that are distorted, unhelpful, extreme, and/or without total truth. The truth is, they just happen. Negative thoughts can come out of nowhere.

Negative thinking can be set on repeat as neuropathways form. Your brain can start to make a habit out of negative thinking whether or not the circumstances are different.

It can become difficult to realize that the negative thoughts are a habit instead of a proper response. Some people find the negative thoughts more trustworthy than the positive thoughts.

Automatic negative thoughts are readily trusted the most and are common among all people. Many people have studied automatic negative thinking (ANT) and they’ve categorized negative thoughts into several common types.

A few of the most common ANTs are:

  • Mind reading (“I know what they are thinking!”).
  • Fortune telling (“This is what’s going to happen, I just know it”).
  • Thinking with emotions (“I am just telling you how I feel, so that’s the way it is”).
  • Focusing on the negative (“Everything blows up in my face. I’m never right.”)
  • Thinking with emotions (“Things are always how they seem – good or bad.”)

When ANTs take over, it is like a negative thought invasion. We experience a flood of emotions and cycle through the thinking over and over. The negative thoughts just keep coming.

This invasion often drives negative behavior. Because the ANTs are automatic in nature, they can go unnoticed before it’s too late and an invasion occurs. We can help the negative thought invasion from happening if we adopt certain practices.

How to help negative thoughts

The first thing about helping yourself avoid an ANT invasion is to get good at finding the automatic negative thoughts in the first place. When you become aware of the problem you can more easily address it.

The next step is to not let the negative thoughts carry on without a challenge. Stop assuming they are true, and start using discernment. How this works can look different for each individual. Some individuals will be able to navigate the challenge of negative thoughts by themselves. The use of humor, reasoning, or other means will enable them to move past the negative emotions with simple effort.

On the other hand, the individual who has invasions of negative thoughts that have gone unchallenged for years may need help in challenging the negative thoughts and figuring out what is trustworthy and what isn’t. This help can come in the form of a trusted individual, a pastor, or even a therapist. An outside perspective can help you get in touch with present reality and wade through the negative thoughts.

Negative emotions

Negative emotions are slightly different than ANTs, though they naturally come together in most instances. The first thing to know is that we are primed to trust them because emotions help keep us alive and functioning. Negative emotions are often not based on reality and lead to dysfunctional behavior when followed.

Not all negative emotions are untrustworthy, however. Emotions act as alarms, telling us that something is going on. Emotions are an important part of our lives, helping us navigate this world and connect with others. However, emotions cannot always differentiate between what is real or not. Emotions can react in the same way to both a real threat and a perceived threat when no actual threat is there.

Think of it as seeing a shadow through the window. Your fear may prick up and your emotions may alert you to something scary outside. Your thinking may take the alarm and trust it is scary, assuming it has to be a criminal. In all actuality, it is simply a balloon stuck in the tree.

Again, negative emotions are important, but they have no reasoning capabilities to navigate beyond reacting. They cannot develop a complex response, but are instinctual, without logic or reasoning capabilities. They can, however, be trained.

A warning from a mother about the fire can create a healthy fear that keeps the child from getting too close. Training our emotions can happen without really trying. One disappointing experience with a spouse can lead to a feeling of disappointment even if nothing similar happens again.

These are unhealthy emotions, based on faulty thinking and unhelpful assumptions. They still serve the same purpose, to keep us safe from pain, but they do so even when the danger is not really there.

How to help negative emotions

When negative emotions are completely overwhelming, it is important to focus your attention on the simple necessities in life. These include breathing, drinking water, eating food (something simple), movement, and resting. When we focus on the simple it allows for the negative emotions to settle more easily.

Another thing to consider when facing strong negative emotions is waiting. Give time for your emotions to cool off before making decisions. When dealing with anger specifically, the Bible tells us to work it out with Him, instead of reacting toward someone without hesitation (Psalm 44-5 and Ephesians 4:26-27).

For both negative thoughts and negative emotions

As said before, often there’s a mixture of negative thoughts and emotions that can overcome us. In times of facing both of them, it is best to consider a three-pronged approach:

  • Connect with wise counsel, therapist, pastor, elder, etc.
  • Put it to the test of Scripture.
  • Pray (the most powerful tool we have)

Navigating negative thoughts and emotions is a task we all face. You can overcome negative cycles of both by taking steps to change the response. This doesn’t erase the negative thoughts and emotions. Instead, it trains them to be in their place for their best uses.

Simplified and positive uses of emotions:

  • Anger is meant to help us respond to right and wrong, good and evil, and help us to stand in righteous ways apart from sin.
  • Sadness is meant to help us respond to good and evil, bringing us to long for God, and helping us to turn away from our sin.
  • Fear is meant to drive us and keep us from evil and wrong to good and right. Fear brings us to seek God and walk in His ways.
  • Happiness/joy is meant to bring us close to God as we know His goodness.

Emotions can be a positive thing, but when they are misused or inordinate, they require support to calm down. Taking these simple mechanisms of care and intention can make a big difference for most people. Connecting with others who can remain calm and help you engage in healthy coping is an important tool to use at any point of being overwhelmed or negative thoughts and emotions.

If you need any help in facing ANTs, the overwhelming force of negative emotions, or both, reach out to us at today.

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How to Fix a Toxic Relationship: 8 Bible Verses to Consider

Looking to figure out how to fix a toxic relationship? Here are 8 Bible verses to consider while deciding if the relationship has any hope of continuing.

Being stuck in a toxic relationship

The cause of all toxic behavior is sin, which entered the world when Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, rebelled against God (Genesis 3). Because we are children of our first parents, we are all stained with this original sin.

We feel anger, pride, and selfishness, and we feel trapped. This causes us to constantly search for something to hope in or a way of escape. There is one hope only of escaping this sin: Jesus Christ who died for us so that we could be saved (Romans 5:8). With His grace, we can find out how to fix a toxic relationship.

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? – 2 Corinthians 6:14

Paul admonished the church in Corinth for their lack of love and indifference toward him. This was because of their close connections with unbelievers. This had corrupted their spiritual growth.

Does this other person indulge people that distract from the gospel in your relationship? If this person or spouse is not being built up by believers, and is instead satisfied with being poured into by unbelievers, it is likely that you have a toxic relationship on your hands. Prayer is a great place to start as God promises He gives wisdom generously to all, without reproach as we ask Him with faith that He will provide it (James 1).

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. – Hebrews 13:14

This was one of the final exhortations by Paul to his followers in his epistle while imprisoned. He wanted them to show hospitality to strangers, remember those mistreated in prison, shun the love of money, and be content with what they had, remembering the Lord is always there to love and guide you. He is there for us in marriage, too.

God founded the institution; therefore, its vows must be upheld. Nothing is to come between you and loving your spouse and holding them in high regard – not their attitude or behavior, not your kids, not a job or other activity, not another person in any way.

Today, this type of behavior is too prevalent, often resulting in the break-up of marriages. If you find there is anything in the way of loving your spouse, you need to pray to the Lord for help to fix this toxic relationship and help you to rely on Him to help you do it His way.

Do not be deceived; ‘bad company corrupts good morals.’ – 1 Corinthians 15:33

This is true in all relationships – family, friends, and work. Who are your “friends?” Do they support you in times of want; are they there for you no matter the circumstances? Or do they disappear, making you wonder who you can trust? The Lord will never leave your side. He is incorruptible.

As a Christian, you are called to love others. Loving means taking the right course of action, in accordance with God’s Word, and to not be corrupted or change your views. He is the Lord, and He will let you know how to fix a toxic relationship with others. Conform to God’s law, not the world’s.

If your brother sins against you, go, and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and tax collector. – Matthew 18:15-17

These are strong words, but they ensure accountability and effective conflict resolution. You must look at others as souls. Forgiving a person (family, friend, co-worker, etc.) or spouse means looking at them as a fellow “brother” or “sister” in Christ, a soul that has been redeemed and is called righteous just as you are.

Forgiving someone who is not a believer is loving our enemies just as we are instructed to, and looking at them as souls in need of a Savior. Wading through the consequences of the wrongs done might take longer. Knowing how to fix a toxic relationship can involve deeper issues that will take time to understand. Take it to the Lord in prayer, search His Word for wisdom, and seek out good, God-centered counsel.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. – 1 Corinthians 6:8

When it comes to sex, we see that nothing is new under the sun. In Paul’s day, sex of all kinds was normal for most people. This included adultery, prostitution, pedophilia, homosexuality, etc. Sex outside of marriage was accepted as normal, just as it is today. Paul states you must flee from sexual immorality. It’s wiser to escape from this sin than be subdued by it (Genesis 39:7-12). You are only harming yourself and others involved.

Paul fought against the casual attitude toward it by some Christians and the pain it causes to both spouses. Today we still commit these sins. This causes friction, bad attitudes, and bad relationships. You will need to learn how to fix this toxic relationship.

Rely on the Lord. Pray for a resolution that will return the love you feel for your spouse and an escape from any relationship that does not honor God by respecting the design of sex to be between a married man and woman. Seek counsel to help point you to God’s will.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4

Paul once more tells us to treat others’ needs as more important than our own, and other people as greater than us. By doing this, you will achieve the kind of humility that results in love and unity. His goal was to center attention on other people, not yourself. We need to do this in our personal relationships and marriages.

By treating people with respect, you will be influencing the relationship out of toxicity. There will be the most opportunity for harmony and understanding of each other’s needs when at least one person is honoring the Lord. There may still be conflict, but true love will, with God’s help, see you through such times as you look to suffer well and seek out the other soul’s good above your own.

I appeal to you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. – Romans 16:17-18

Paul begs the Christians in Rome to be on their guard against false teaching, by holding to the truth they know and protecting it at all costs. He knew that others would come after him and try to sow division and confusion in the church, seeking after their own selfish desires.

Fixing a toxic relationship is a manner of speaking the truth to one another, whether at home, the office, or with anyone. Cling to the gospel to see your way through any measure of toxic relationship. Put everything to the test of Scripture to make straight your paths.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

With this chapter, it’s easy to see that love conquers all. There is nothing it can’t overcome. This is the love of Christ. As followers of Christ, we strive to love like this by the power of the Holy Spirit. Knowing how to fix a toxic relationship is using this love for every relationship. The Lord will show you how if you ask Him. Evil is overcome by the power of love.

It is quite clear in these verses that love should dominate our thoughts and actions. How to fix a toxic relationship then becomes a simple matter of understanding God’s love and loving the other person with it.

Get help with your relationships today by reaching out to a therapist on our website.

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What is Therapy Like? An Inner Look at the Therapy Office Experience

If you are asking yourself “What therapy is like?” then this article is for you. It takes an inner look at the therapy office experience and the many differences you find behind each door. With all the differences, it can make it difficult to decide how, when, and what therapy to start with.

That’s okay, there are tools for that as well (see “Individual Choice” section). There are not only differences between therapies and therapists but also unique phases of therapy each client goes through. It all comes down to individual choices.


Certain techniques of therapy fit certain people. There is no one-size-fits-all. In order not to make this a textbook-sized article, the following are over-simplifications of different types of therapy, including some highlights of the most used therapies out there such as DBT, CBT, somatic, psychodynamic, etc. Just as a reminder, this is an oversimplification.

Commonly used therapies

DBT, ACT, CBT. basically brain training. The concepts are black-and-white, plug-and-play techniques that have proven to work for many people. There’s a lot of talking, but a lot of formulas being plugged into throughout.


Body and brain training. The concepts connect the whole brain, but the focus is on the reptilian portion and therapists work through experience exercises that can range from holding onto the edge of a table to jumping off a tower into a foam pit.


Here’s where you talk it out and see where things go. Most offices really do have a couch, and some people lie down on it.

Online vs. in-person


The entertainment factor is a must to consider how well they can engage/be attentive (so don’t be surprised if there is more of a play approach), there’s a certain age limit for the general therapist out there.


Psychological disconnect (no replacement for in-person), but otherwise no difference is shown in short-term studies (in other words, real work can still be done online).

Social: male/female, religious/nonreligious, race


You may not have a preference, or you may feel strongly about it. It will be an easy choice for some individuals. As a couple, it may be more difficult to navigate the first-time choices of a male or female.

The most important question is whether you have had major trauma involving one gender to another. Either way, it’s going to be a case-by-case basis where one gender or another could change your mind on the issue just because of how they naturally fit your case.


Similar to male/female considerations – the couple’s work makes this more of a factor than for individuals since couples may not be in the same space religiously and will need to find the best middle ground.

For individuals, the benefit of a particular religious background is an understanding of vocabulary and context to certain sensitivities. Otherwise, no matter the religious background, it is likely the therapist has worked with both religious and nonreligious alike.


Again, you may not have a preference, but similar to the above, race can be an identifying factor in who you want to see and open up to in the experience of therapy.

The phases

The beginning phase

The beginning phase is when the introductions happen. No matter the level of intensity of the problem, this phase typically has little change overall. It is in this phase where the problem can be closely examined, and the client can work to get used to the therapist and the therapist can get to know the client. Typically, if any progress is made in this stage, there will be a temptation to quit too early before the lasting work is done.

The working phase

This phase can be the most uncomfortable for the client. It is in this phase where challenges to the client’s routine/habits are made. It is the time when the reality of the situation shows and the going gets tough. It is important to advocate for yourself during this phase, so the therapist can adjust their approach accordingly.

The end phase

This phase can be difficult for some, but in general, this is where progress is reviewed, game plans for future trouble are made, and final check-ins take place before saying goodbye to therapy. This may mean that progress has been made and therapy is no longer needed. However, this may also occur before transferring to a new type of support.

Individual choice

Overall, therapy is an individual choice. With no guarantees offered, the success of it depends on multiple factors. Your individual choices are not only what type of therapy you will try, but also what type of therapist you want to meet with. Another individual choice is when you want to enter and exit therapy.

Regarding couples therapy, it should be kept in mind that there is no such thing as shotgun therapy. Should a spouse not be committed to the relationship, even for a short time for the sake of trying therapy, there should be no couples therapy.

Keeping these choices in mind is important in helping you sift through the options of therapists and therapies out there. If it becomes more overwhelming to make the decision yourself, reach out to our reception team at or 424-438-2888 and let them know so they can help you find the best place to start.

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Why Do Affairs Happen? 7 Reasons for Infidelity

There is often value in answering the question, “What happened?” In the story of a marriage, when infidelity occurs, it’s important to understand what happened and why it happened. According to some statistics, infidelity is responsible for between 20-40% of divorces. However, not everyone who has experienced infidelity opts to end their marriage. Many couples can find healing and choose to remain together.

Part of the healing process includes understanding why the infidelity happened in the first place so that the marriage can be strengthened and restored. Knowing why infidelity occurred can help a couple with accountability, and with developing a deeper understanding of how to love one another better.

Some reasons for infidelity

Infidelity is when one partner breaks their commitment to remain faithful to their partner by engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with another person. Infidelity doesn’t have to be sexual. An emotional affair is when a person forms a deep connection with someone other than their partner, and that connection resembles or rivals the connection in the primary relationship.

Infidelity occurs under a wide variety of circumstances, and there are several reasons why people have affairs. What’s important to remember is that though there may be significant reasons why one decides to have an affair, the affair is still a decision, and one should take responsibility for one’s decisions. Understanding the reason behind infidelity shouldn’t absolve responsibility or create room for blaming or blame-shifting.

The key reason to understand why infidelity happens is to understand where there may be weaknesses in the relationship or issues that an individual or the couple needs to address as they go through counseling. Some of the reasons why infidelity occurs include:

Issues in the primary relationship

This is the reason most people assume why infidelity happens. Perhaps there’s a wedge that forms in the relationship and the couple drifts apart. Perhaps one partner begins working a lot more or goes through a serious illness, and intimacy suffers as a result. A period of prolonged conflict can also potentially result in seeking comfort outside the relationship.

Permissive attitudes

We live in a cultural and social context in which the mores around monogamy have been shifting profoundly. Polyamorous relationships are lauded, and as these cultural and societal norms about sex and intimacy shift, people may find themselves crossing boundaries into infidelity.

Low self-esteem and compulsion

A person may find themselves having an affair against their will, for instance when they are coerced by their employer. An individual with low self-esteem may also find themselves in an affair because they struggle to say “No” or because they may be seeking validation through the affair.

Sex addiction

A condition like sex or romance addiction can also be a contributing factor to an affair occurring.

Nostalgia and self-exploration

It’s common for an affair to happen when two people who were in a relationship before managing to connect again and rekindle their relationship. Taking the road not traveled and exploring new aspects of oneself is another reason why infidelity might also occur.


If one spouse has had an affair in the past, the other spouse might have an affair as a form of revenge and to hurt their counterpart.

To end the relationship

If someone feels as though they want to end the relationship, and they feel otherwise unheard or powerless to do so, they may have an affair as a way to undermine the relationship in such a significant manner as to end it.

Finding healing after infidelity

When infidelity occurs, it undermines trust in the relationship. That breach of trust is serious enough to end the relationship. A betrayal can make it difficult to move beyond being suspicious of the partner who cheated. In many ways, infidelity can also be traumatic, causing nightmares and flashbacks for both partners.

Healing after infidelity can only really happen if there is an acknowledgment that the affair happened. Without remorse or taking responsibility for what happened, a couple can’t move forward and begin making the changes necessary to heal the broken trust. In addition to this, accountability is necessary so that the partner who was cheated on feels safe enough to trust their partner again.

Counseling is another ingredient in a couple’s finding healing. It creates a safe and supportive environment for the couple to explore feelings of hurt, and for them to express their needs and begin setting goals for themselves.

Through counseling, the couple can explore reasons for infidelity and why the infidelity occurred. They can also identify unhealthy patterns in the relationship, address areas where the couple does not love each other well, and work to improve their communication and intimacy.

Getting help

If you or your partner is struggling to work through the impact of infidelity, please reach out to us at Huntington Beach Christian Counseling. We can arrange an appointment for you to see a trained Christian therapist in Huntington Beach, California who can help you walk a healing journey.

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Mapping the Heart: Navigating Codependency and Establishing Boundaries

The accounts of Jesus’ time on earth provide a practical and spiritual template for those who follow Him. His approach to navigating challenges serves to encourage and infuse confidence in all we confront. He exhibited the principle of establishing healthy relationships, communication, and boundaries.

Prioritizing the Father’s will, Jesus’ desire to please His Father was the impetus that governed His ministry. He relentlessly pursued what would ultimately give God glory in every circumstance, regardless of the demands that others attempted to impose on Him.

The mirror of Scripture can help us to observe this as we watch Jesus engage with a pair of sisters hosting Jesus at their home. Martha was busy preparing for dinner, yet not enjoying the Lord’s presence.

While her sister Mary listened to Jesus teach, Martha lamented to the Savior. Instead of communicating directly with Mary, Martha circumvented her, by talking to Jesus about what Mary wasn’t doing and what she presumed should be happening instead. Jesus’ response exhibited a reflection of what healthy boundaries can look like in our own lives.

While Jesus didn’t negate the necessity of dinner, His emphasis in this account helps us to recognize, repent, and reset where our priorities misalign. He addressed Martha but refused to allow imposed guilt to usurp His priority.

As Messiah, He realized that Martha wanted to be validated and supported; Martha’s need for replenishment was apparent. It was what Mary had already chosen: to ease her codependent and anxious mind in rest and replenishment at Jesus’ feet.

No amount of work, regardless of how noble, fills us like spending time with Jesus. Christ presented the perfect example, illustrating that loving people and establishing boundaries are not mutually exclusive. We need both; and in fact, one informs the other.

We set boundaries because we want to protect the time in the presence of God and with loved ones and preserve these relationships. It is because of love that we establish boundaries as parameters to redirect our resources to nourish what we value.

When we are busying ourselves with what everyone else is or isn’t doing, we miss important face-to-face time with the Lord. There may be words and wisdom that He wants to share, but as long as we are codependently preoccupied with other people’s behaviors, we deflect attention from Christ.

Boundaries around our peace or priorities weaken the hold that worry and anxiety leverage. Yet, when we avoid marking boundaries on our time, we overextend ourselves and overcommit limited resources of energy and attention. Like Martha, this can be taxing for us as well as those in relationship with us.

Instead of engaging in life-giving exchanges, we keep score, ticking off our contributions and others’ perceived failures. We diminish them, even as we see in this story (Luke 10:38-42). There are two hostesses, yet they are both displaying a different kind of welcome for the Visitor in their home.

When we operate from a codependent mindset, we project what we want onto others, stepping over the boundaries around what they value. Instead, we misuse our relational influence to control them with guilt or emotion, presuming that they should respond to what we want and disregard their own unique needs and desires.

Codependency looks away from the areas to be reconfigured in our hearts. Furthermore, it minimizes the impact that our controlling words and actions have on those we love.

The speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye looms larger than the log bursting through our own when we allow codependency to govern and inform our mindset (Matthew 7:3-5). The result is that we won’t establish healthy boundaries that refocus us on what we need to manage with the Lord in our own lives. We place ourselves in the position of God by trying to rescue, redeem, or reprove other people for what they need to manage with the Savior.

It doesn’t have to be like this. We can make immediate pivots, recognizing where our codependent disregard for boundaries has spilled over into interactions with our loved ones. The Lord is our Counselor and Helper. Through His Holy Spirit, He will direct us to counseling resources to support us with making lasting change. Just like change came to Mary and Martha’s home, it can come to ours as well.

Next steps to establishing boundaries

Wherever you are, take courage and hope that change is possible. God has provided valid solutions and practical support for you to initiate it in your own life. Contact one of the counselors here at Huntington Beach Christian Counseling in California. Make your appointment to experience the beginning of life changes. You can begin to redraw the lines of your heart map, establishing boundaries that protect what matters most.

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One Thing I Do to Improve My Mental Health as a Christian Therapist

As with life, highs and lows, tragedies and excitements, trials and redemptions are normal. No one is born with the readiness to handle such things. Though there are several tools, there are no guarantees and no perfect formula for all of life. Here is one thing I do to improve my mental health as a Christian therapist.

Narrowing down the tools I’ve used over the past decades was a struggle, but to keep it simple I wanted to select just one. Keep in mind, this one has many by its side throughout every situation isn’t a cure-all. To select the most effective tool, over the years I’ve decidedly used the Bible as my sieve to week out the tools and pieces of advice that lead to nowhere.

Doesn’t a therapist have the advantage?

You might ask, “Does training to be a therapist make a difference?” The answer is “yes,” and “no.”

There’s an advantage to training for something. In this case, it gives greater exposure to a wide variety of tools. There’s also the requirement to practice putting this wide collection of mechanisms for battling mental health woes to use. Simply put, being a Christian therapist means one is likely to have been doing this longer and know a bit more about tools that do and don’t work than the average person.

There’s also a real chance that there is absolutely no advantage to training as a therapist in the way of knowing how to improve one’s mental health. What training provides is exposure to many different tools and areas of thought about what might help with each struggle. Anyone can gain exposure to as much or even more of these tools in their everyday lives.

That being said, the world cannot offer any better wisdom than God. So simply spending more time studying the Bible can lead one to have a greater advantage over a trained professional. Finally, there’s no end to practicing the tools, they are lifetime assistants for everyone, and many develop the art of them naturally.

The one thing

One thing I do to improve my mental health as a Christian therapist, above all others, is to focus on connection. Every high and low in mental health brings the temptation to disconnect. Whether it be to God or others, connection matters most in improving, balancing, and weathering the ups and downs of our mental health.

Our mental health consists of our thoughts and emotions. Our emotions set off like alarms to tell us something is happening. Our thoughts decide what to make of it and then our behavior follows. I’ll explain more about how to engage the tool of connection, below.

Connection to God

Each time you experience the elated, happier-than-can-be feeling, you may have no thought of trouble. Why bother working on our mental health when everything seems grand? This is where the temptation to disconnect comes in.

The messages of this temptation come with some variation of “I don’t need God right now,” and so we relax our diligence in connecting with God and are vulnerable to the inevitable trial to come. Feeling that mountain high is a great indicator that it is time to connect with God through praise and worship.

Similarly, when you feel the alarm of anxiousness ringing loudly in your ears, this is the time to connect with God through prayer. Use anger as a reminder to wrestle with the Spirit in your own space (Proverbs 4:4). Use the sadness alarm as a reminder to lament.

Connection to others

Connection with others is next in importance. When our emotions and mental health seem to be in the clouds, alerting us that all is well, we can be tempted to disconnect from others just as much as from God. The message comes across within as, “I am having too much fun to connect with them, maybe later.” The emotional alarm of happiness and contentment is helpful if we use it as a reminder to connect with and invest in other people.

If your anxious alarm is going off, use it as a reminder to reach out for prayer. This connection with others is an opportunity to feed the good and helpful thoughts. Try to resist venting or emoting on others which weakens the connection.

If it’s anger that’s sounding the alarm, use connection with others to communicate the need for space. Schedule a time for reunification or for that person to check in with you. Neither isolation nor pursuing a fight will build connection.

As for sadness, this alarm can be helpful when used as a reminder to reach out for prayer. Similar to anxiety, praying with others is an opportunity to develop the good and helpful thoughts that are necessary for improving mental health.

Keep connected

Everyone can benefit from having a space and time to talk things out. Whether it be to gain a new perspective or to find direction. Connecting with God and others is an intentional regular practice for all levels of mental health.

It is one thing I do to improve my mental health as a Christian therapist. It looks like having a time with God through prayer, meditation, and Scripture reading. It also looks like having a person or small group of people to talk with.

If you are looking for or in need of a therapist to be this connection for you, connect with us online. Connection may be just one out of many tools, but it is a powerful one. It is accessible to all with the most basic to the most pressing mental health needs. Keep connected.

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3 Steps to Start Getting Your Mental Health Back

Christians who struggle with mental health experience a multitude of symptoms. One of the biggest hurdles to starting to improve mental health functioning is a shame complex.

Shame says, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way.” This message can come from ourselves or those around us. No matter where the shame comes from, it creates a trap. This trap leads to isolation and isolation increases mental health issues.

Another message created from shame is any variation of “I don’t deserve to be better,” or “I’m not good enough.” These messages are more unhealthy self-talk that, again, leads Christians into a trap and more isolation.

A final variation of the messages the shame complex creates is slightly different from the first two. It’s the message of “I can’t shake it.” The shame that results from this is similar to “I’m not good enough” but it destroys any last bit of hope one may be grasping at. This message for the Christian, however, is more easily overcome than the first two in light of the following truths of Christianity:

  • God’s timing, not your timing.
  • God’s timing, not other’s timing.
  • There’s grace for that.

To overcome the shame complex and start getting your mental health back on track, you have to start focusing your mind on Christian messages like these. To break it down even further, here are three steps to start improving your mental health: evaluate, build, and connect.

  1. Evaluate your situation

To start getting your mental health back, you have to know how far gone it is. Take some time over the next week to evaluate how ingrained the negative mental habits are by asking “How long have I been thinking this way and battling these emotions?”

Another way to evaluate is to take notes about how pervasive the negative thoughts and emotions have become. Ask yourself, “Has this impacted my relationships? My daily life? My output at work? Are there any thought patterns I’ve noticed are repeating? How has my general mood been?” Finally, in taking the time to evaluate your current mental health status, if you are a Christian, you have a few extra questions to ask yourself.

The additional questions start with this: “Even if the problem with my mental health starts with someone else, is it really just a mental health issue or is it instead a heart issue?” The Christian’s heart needs constant examination. We may find a plank of bitterness, lack of grace, pride, selfishness, idolatry, and other sins blinding us to the best way to remedy the situation between us and another. The Bible’s teaching is your key, here.

If the problem with another continues to happen, we as Christians need to keep going to God, our heart doctor for both frequent heart checkups and support. A second step in this type of evaluation is to get a second opinion. This second opinion can come in the form of a pastor, a trusted Christian mentor, or a Christian therapist who can help you figure out what type of issue it is.

  1. Build the right supports

To start getting your mental health back, you must have support. With the shame complex, and any number of emotions, it can feel difficult to plug into support-especially the right supports. As difficult as it may be, to start getting your mental health back this year needs to be the year where you work on avoiding isolation.

Avoiding isolation may mean cutting screen time and getting in front of people in real life. It may also mean ditching the people who make you feel good but aren’t healthy for you.

Adding to the support of actual connections with healthy people in real life are routines and accountability. What you consume while trying to get your mental health back matters most. Take small bites of those healthier habits and over time you’ll grow in satisfaction. Look over all of your routines, from daily to weekly and beyond to adjust toward the goal over time and in every way.

Examples of “right supports” for getting your mental health back include, but are not limited to:

  • Reading the Bible (not a devotional).
  • Communing with and involving yourself with a fellowship group.
  • Develop a prayer team for yourself.
  • Attend church service in person weekly.
  • Play worship music.

These examples may seem less desirable or even trivial at this time. You may even think that you’re engaging with all or most of those supports and things are still hard. For the Christian, these supports are trustworthy and timeless. If these are in place and you feel you need even more support to start getting your mental health back, consider whether it is time to get counsel from a pastor or Christian therapist to see what else is missing.

  1. Connect with counsel

A final part of my top three ways to start getting your mental health back this year is to connect with wise counsel. Council adds to the daily and weekly supportive activities you already have been doing or are starting.

The more intense the needs of your mental health, or the more impactful your needs are, the more layers of support they will require. There is no guarantee or perfect formula but, generally speaking, counseling for the Christian increases from reading the Bible on your own, to talking with friends and family, to seeing a general practitioner or pastor for counseling, to seeing a specialist (therapist).

You may find benefit, as many do, in engaging in all of these levels of counsel. The source of counsel matters. For marriage, keep it out of the family ties unless following the teaching of the Bible to address a specific situation. For the Christian, it is important to check all counsel against the Word (even the counsel in this article).

Building support and counsel from the basics up diminishes variables of what could be missing and boosts mental health to weather the most difficult circumstances. These include trauma, physical deficits, difficult relationships, etc. All of which negatively impact mental health.

Take the time to work through these three steps to start getting your mental health back this year. If you want someone to help you with these steps or know you need a therapist to work with you, contact us at

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Fear Factor: Unpacking Bible Verses about Fear and How to Overcome It

Fear is an emotion that every person engages with at a range of intensity. It retains a unique role in our physiology to preserve well-being. Our adrenal system generates a fight, flight, or freeze response, a safety mechanism that can help us act with uncommon boldness outside of normal encounters and operates to keep us alive when confronted with danger or threat. Bible verses about fear can help.

There is a distinction between this fear and the spirit of fear. This is important for us to know as believers that we may live more fully aware of the abundance that Jesus came to give (John 10:10).

Bible verses about fear and the physical body

Our brain and body message one another to indicate the presence of actual and perceived threats. In life, we will encounter some legitimate fears, and we need to regard them with healthy caution and planning. Such fear can be useful to communicate when we need to distance ourselves from harm and make choices to preserve what is valuable.

When we are in a situation where our well-being is compromised, fear alerts us, so we can avert danger, protect ourselves, and swiftly act to shield those we love. We do not have to live under its control, rather it serves us as a tool.

Fear opposes the Father’s heart

The spirit of fear, however, works against our holistic sense of emotional and mental well-being, protection, and preservation. Instead of signaling or stirring us to action when we need to help ourselves or those whom we are responsible for, the spirit of fear disables our ability to act in a healthy manner. It seeks to dissolve the mind of Christ as believers, emotional stability, and mental soundness.

The spirit of fear works to detach us from our identity and foster a sense of isolation. It creates over-reaction in our responses to happenings or even events that do not take place at all. Bible verses about fear inform us that we are no longer orphaned, but rather the Father has adopted and affirmed us as His heirs and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

Thus the antidote to this fear is the presence of God and the salvation/freedom we find in Christ. The fear of the Lord is to be greater than this spirit of fear, in this respect, as God is a loving Father whose nature is to protect and provide for His own.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15, NIV

The spirit of fear overwhelms us, causing us to vacillate between extremes. It injects agitation in place of peace, anguish over rest, and preoccupation rather than purposefulness. Rarely does it travel alone, but rather brings companions, many of which afflict our mental and emotional health with worry, stress, comparison, perfectionism, procrastination, anger, and more.

Left unchecked, the sinful influence behind the spirit of fear seeks to expand and infiltrate every aspect of our lives (Matthew 12:43-45). Bible verses about fear will reveal that the mind of our flesh would otherwise hasten us onto a destructive path, consuming us with a sense of panic and doom instead of conveying the life and peace available in Jesus (Romans 8:6).

Bible verses about fear and the family of God

While it may be initially unnerving to explore the root of what stokes and perpetuates fear’s attempt to dominate, we do not have to remain imprisoned by it. Instead, we can embrace the joy, peace, and victory that Jesus purposed to transcend every area of life (John 10:10, 15:11, 16:33).

Many remain in fear and struggle to find peace. By understanding who God is, His law, and His promises, peace, and joy are more readily available. Taking time to explore Bible verses about fear can help us to understand and embrace the purity of the Father’s intentions toward us and the expanse of His Heart (Ephesians 3:18-21).

God created us to live in confidence, aware of His care and protection. He safeguards us from the dangers we see as well as the threats we do not (Psalm 91:1-4). Our assurance emerges from acceptance of our adoption into the family of God, no longer enslaved to the spirit of fear (Ephesians 1:6; Romans 8:15).

One can explore more of this fatherly grace and concern by studying a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Timothy). The elder admonished the younger minister that the Father had provided an avenue for him to encounter and experience triumph over the spirit of fear. Paul clarified Timothy’s portion of God’s power, evident in the fruit, gifts, and demonstrations of the Holy Spirit and love.

Jesus’ selfless sacrifice influences all we say and do. Furthermore, a sound mind or self-control would serve to preserve Timothy, as well as modern-day believers from succumbing to the weight of actual and perceived threats confronted in this world (2 Timothy 1:7; Galatians 5:22-23).

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7, ESV

Fear and the finished work of Christ

We have a personalized encouragement to embrace our identity and abide in Christ (John 15:4). The finished work of Jesus equips us to break our unconscious agreement with striving and toil, and trade it for total rest (Matthew 11:28-30). The authority that accompanies our worthy calling as kingdom sons and daughters empowers us to reclaim areas of our lives that we have ceded over to the spirit of fear (Ephesians 4:1-3).

Though fear torments, the perfect, whole, and mature love of the Father drives fear out of its hiding places, dismantles its assault against our peace, and deconstructs its attempts to undermine our spiritual, mental, and emotional health (1 John 4:18). The character of God, as love, patience, and kindness, annihilates the hateful, fretful, and self-absorbed nature of the spirit of fear (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Fear and freedom

Jesus promises triumph, having fulfilled it in the miracles in the Bible and in the miracles we experience as believers (Mark 16:17-18; John 21:25). Even as Jesus initiated public ministry, He recited the words that Isaiah had prophesied about the Messiah centuries before His birth (Luke 4:21). As the Anointed One, Christ came to bind brokenness, set captives free, restore joy to the mourning, and to exchange the beauty of His life for death’s ashes (Isaiah 61:1-4).

He demonstrated perfect love which arrived at just the right time (Romans 5:8). He drove out the punishment associated with the spirit of fear and condemnation. This means we no longer have to be bound to shame, but rather freed to anticipate a hopeful future with Jesus, now through eternity (Romans 8:1; 1 John 5:4; 2 Timothy 2:11-13).

Fear and your future

While the enemy cannot cancel our destiny, he can persuade us to abort course and sabotage ourselves when we entertain what Scripture calls vain imaginations or worthless thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). We do not have to acquiesce to his fearful demands to succumb to the spirit of fear and its attempt to control our minds and consume our lives.

When the spirit of fear stalks and harasses, rehearsing Bible verses counters fear and serves to encourage us to act on the Word we have heard (James 1:22-25). Partnering with the Holy Spirit to remind ourselves of the promises embedded in Scripture will help us to speak boldly. It will help us walk in victory with each obedient step, empowering us to overcome the fear factor and its desire to erase the presence of God from our focus (Isaiah 41:10).

Learn more Bible verses about fear

Consider where fear has gripped your life with its threats. You do not have to remain in this place, even if it seems to have occupied your mind and heart for as long as you can remember. Search the resources on this site. Select a counselor and schedule an appointment. God has more for you to experience and enjoy, outside of where fear has kept you imprisoned.

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Different Types of Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa

Probably the most well-known of the different types of eating disorders is anorexia nervosa. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) statistics, “anorexia has the highest case mortality rate and the second highest crude mortality rate of any mental illness.”

The good news is that anorexia is treatable, and you can get your physical and mental health back on track with medical and psychological help.

What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa (commonly referred to as anorexia) is a dangerous eating disorder with a high mortality rate. Those with anorexia suffer from more than emotional turmoil; their physical health is in jeopardy.

Anorexia behavior includes starvation. This may be a blatant refusal of food or eating minimal food when offered. The most common symptom of anorexia is a gaunt and underweight appearance. Bones may be visible without clothing. The person with anorexia may see themselves differently in the mirror, however. Anorexia is often comorbid with body dysmorphic disorder. They may see themselves as larger than they are or have a deep-seated fear of gaining weight.

According to the ANAD statistics, out of the different types of eating disorders, those with anorexia face an 18% higher suicide rate than their peers without an eating disorder. Those with anorexia can also encounter more degenerate physical health. Medical treatment is a priority for these patients. Once their physical health is stable, the work to heal the psychological damage can commence.

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa.

The symptoms of anorexia include:

  • Refusing to eat.
  • Denying hunger.
  • Only eating specific foods with little to no nutritional value.
  • Adhering to rigid food rules.
  • Starving oneself.
  • Underweight.
  • Protruding bones under clothing.
  • Brittle hair and nails.
  • Dry skin.
  • Severe dehydration.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fainting.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Slow heart rate.
  • Nutritional deficiencies.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Poor body image.
  • Irregular periods or amenorrhea.

Due to the nutritional deficiencies and extreme weight loss, physical health is a concern. If left untreated, anorexia can lead to organ failure. Medical professionals prioritize physical health to help the patient’s body stabilize.

Treatment for anorexia nervosa.

Once the person with anorexia is stable physically, treatment for the mental disorder can begin. A counselor will assess the person’s behavior and listen to them share their thoughts and emotions before creating a care plan. To treat the compulsions that drive anorexic behavior, counselors must understand the thoughts behind the actions. The counselor and client build a rapport and a safe relationship that allows the freedom to share.

Counselors may use several different types of eating disorder treatments depending on the client’s assessment and level of severity of anorexia.

Individual talk therapy.

There may be a reason that a client turns to anorexia that goes beyond wanting to be a smaller size or not wanting to gain weight. Exactly why do they feel the need? Why are they afraid? A counselor helps the client work through these issues and triggers.


Group therapy.

People are stronger together, especially those who have overcome anorexia, and are willing to share with others. Group therapy is a safe space to share and gain insight from others while being led by a professional mental health care worker.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

This technique helps clients to identify triggers, emotions, and thoughts that lead to anorexic behaviors. The client then can work with the counselor to learn ways to re-frame those thoughts and actions.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

Although not explicitly created for eating disorders, DBT has proven helpful in helping a client with anorexia (or bulimia or binge eating) manage stressors and relationships instead of turning to the harmful behaviors associated with anorexia.

Nutrition education.

Nutritional education is a must to help the client adapt to a regular eating schedule with proper portions and variety. The menu may change as the client becomes healthier, allowing for a greater variety, but in the beginning, checking in with a nutritionist will keep treatment on track.

A counselor may incorporate several methods to help a client with anorexia. They may meet in person, virtually, or a combination of both.

Counseling for different types of eating disorders.

From the different types of eating disorders, do you struggle with anorexia nervosa? Do the symptoms sound familiar, but you do not quite meet the criteria for a full-blown eating disorder?

We can help. Contact our office today at Huntington Beach Christian Counseling in California to schedule an assessment with a Christian counselor in Huntington Beach. Your counselor will assess your health and help you connect with medical treatment if necessary while you work on the emotional and mental healing from anorexia.

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