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Sunday, January 27, 2013

I Dare You

"Just relax and step back to the edge of the cliff and lean back ...." My cousin reminded me how safe rappelling was as he clipped me into the climbing gear. I'm scared of heights so I needed the reminder. He reassured me my first rappelling experience would be fine. I was on top of Bathtub Rock in City of Rocks Idaho enjoying a family reunion activity. As I recall the ledge was 100 miles down! (In reality probably only 25 or so feet.) I followed his instructions carefully and leaned back and began to walk backwards off the cliff. After I was three or four feet below the cliff ledge he instructed me to lean back further. I did. 

The rope came unclipped from climbing harness.

There I am hanging on to the rope with my hands, about 99 miles up (or 20 feet) unhooked from harness. The panic was setting in. I was terrified.

Risk is woven into the fabric of our lives.  Risk occurs when it involves a new unfamiliar experience AND we don't know how things will turn out.  For example when we drive to work, we don't know for sure if we're going to get into an accident; When we give our first talk in sacrament meeting, we don't know exactly how we're going to perform; When we share a personal feeling to a family member, we don't know if they're going to get mad; Or When we go rappelling, we don't know if we're going to become unclipped from the harness :). (Interesting enough, this means that God takes no risks because He always knows the outcome of all choices before they happen.)  I believe God intends for us to experience a little fear/anxiety  in our lives (okay - sometimes a lot) and to act in uncertainty about the outcome of our decisions. Why?  Because it brings incredible personal growth and strengthens our faith to take RISKS.

"To be sure, there is a risk associated with learning (or doing) something new..." (Standing Together for the Cause of Christ, Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign August 2012)
When you take risk you have to accept you might fail, it might not work, and things could get worse. There is no promise that your every effort for change will succeed.

John the Baptist risked calling King Herod an adulterer when he divorced his own wife in order to take his brother's wife. For this John got his head chopped off. And he had done right to risk his life for the cause of God and truth. (By the way Jesus had no criticism for John, only the highest praise Matthew 11:11).

Synonyms for Risk: danger, peril, jeopardy, hazard ...
Antonyms for Risk: safe, secure, or harmless.

Anyone who has ever tried to change a long-standing destructive habit like viewing porn, anger, nagging, swearing, etc etc knows the MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR TO CHANGE is the courage and motivation to take the risk to make the change - NOT the less important factors of knowing what to do or how to do it(Think about it. Do you really not have even one impression of one behavior you could do to improve your life? AND Do you really not have even one idea of how to accomplish that goal? If you answer NO to both these questions -you need to call me! You are suffering from the dreaded - Counselitis.)

My years of counseling has reminded me time and time again YOU -if you're honest with yourself -have an idea of what it is you need to do to improve your life and a thought or two of how to do it. What you typical need most is the motivation and courage to "take the risk and do it."

For example, "I DARE YOU...."
  • To read the Book of Mormon and ask if it's true
  • To wear modest clothing
  • To walk out of a movie when it is inappropriate
  • To say no to alcohol
  • To give a talk in Sacrament meeting
  • etc etc
"The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to change RISK. ....The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change TAKING RISK." (Repentance and Change, Ensign, October 2003, Dallin H. Oaks. I added "Risk and Taking risk")
Queen Esther is an example of courageous risk. Mordecai, a Jew sent word to Esther the queen, to go before the king and plead for him not to exterminate the Jews. But Esther knew there was a royal law that anyone who approached the king without being called would be put to death, unless he lifted his golden scepter.  Esther sent her response to Mordecai which included these words: "Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish."  (Esther 4:15-16) Of course Esther didn't parish and she saved the Jews.

From Joseph Smith’s history we read, “While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists,” he was reading James 1:5. So impressed by this verse he concluded: “…I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God,’…”  He risked and chose to go to the grove and put James's scripture to the test! Of course you know the rest of the story. (Joseph Smith History)

Or how about the Prophet Abinadi preaching in front of the wicked King Noah and his priests. Abinadi risks his life by speaking the truth. When given a chance to "recall all his words" Abinadi responded “I will not recall the words which I have spoken unto you concerning this people, for they are true;… I will suffer even until death, …” (Mosiah 17: 9-10). As a result of Abinadi’s risk we discover a few verses later he was put to death by fire. (Mosiah 17: 13)

Other stories of individuals taking risks:
  • David and Goliath (Samuel 17)
  • Daniel in the Lion's Den (Daniel 6)
  • Alma the younger and Sons of Mosiah going to  the Lamanites (Alma 17)
  • etc etc.
Listen closely to the next story you hear from the scriptures and search for the person taking a risk.

"And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey" The third servant who was given only one talent said the following: "And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth..."  The "unprofitable servant" was unwilling to take the RISK of loosing his talent - a risk the two profitable servants took with faith. The unprofitable servant eventually was "cast ... into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 25:14–30)

Jesus is speaking to all of us for we all have talents and all will be accountable -to risk and develop those talents.
One message of the parable is "like the two servants who doubled their talents" we must "not be afraid" and risk change.
If you are to survive these "last days" your "24 Hour Emergency Prepardness Kit" will require "Risk Taking" along with "Coping Skills" (See: Five to Survive)
Over the years with practice (and a son-in-law who has passion for rock climbing), I now go rock climbing. This picture is of me high above the trees on Big Rock in Utah.

I dare you...
From your personal impressions select ONE behavior
- Tell someone you normally don't tell, "I love you."
- Nourish your spirit. (See: Spiritual Anorexia)
- For one day -Say only positive things to your spouse-or shut up.
- Train for and compete in a Mini-Triathlon
- "Faith" someone you love-that needs it. (See: You Get What You Faith For)
- Share a personal weakness of yours to a trusted family or friend. Ask for their help.
- Make an appointment with your bishop. Take care of unfinished business.
- etc. etc.
(Might you be afraid? nervous? hesitant? - of course remember that's why we call it risk.)
And take the RISK and do it.

dr rick

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Five To Survive

And the XIII World Boy Scout Jamboree in Japan had just begun. Sitting in our tents at the foot of Mt. Fuji  on Asagiri Heights, most of us, heard the mobile loudspeakers begin to blaze: “Prepare for evacuation. All sub-camps requiring evacuation , get ready. Buses are on the way. 16,000 Scouts had to be evacuated for 48 hours. It was the summer of 1971. I had just turned 17. Our camp had to be evacuated. They asked for a couple of volunteers to remain behind to watch our equipment. I volunteered.

The rain came.

We were joking around in the tent as a little river of water began to run through. We decided we'd better go out and dig a trench around the tent to direct the water elsewhere. By now the clouds were gray, the wind was blowing and the rain was a down pour. How could we have forgotten to dig the trench around our tent?  We were scouts! Scouts are always prepared right?

Well, not this time and not for a typhoon.   

I'm convinced, one of the greatest obstacles facing us in these Last Days is our ability to cope "emotionally" with the storms of life without becoming depressed or overwhelmed.

It is almost certain that any talk of the Second Coming will quickly turn to being spiritually and temporally prepared. In particular getting out of debt and food storage. That isn't wrong, of course, but if the discussion stays focused only on building a testimony and home storage, it will be  inadequate. You will NOT be prepared for what is coming!
 "The same principle SELF-RELIANCE has application to the spiritual and to the emotional." (Solving Emotional Problems in the Lord's Own Way, Boyd K. Packer)

Emotional Prepardness is different from Spiritual and Temporal Prepardness.

We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult—the spiritual. A 72-hour kit of temporal supplies may prove valuable for earthly challenges, but, as the foolish virgins learned to their sorrow, a 24-hour kit of spiritual preparation is of greater and more enduring value. (Dallin H. Oaks, April 2004, Preparation for the Second Coming)
There are clearly several items that should go into your 24-Hour Emotional Emergency Preparedness Kit.  As a psychologist I'd recommend you store-up -  
"Coping Resources!"

I've seen way too many people become overwhelmed from life challenges. Not because the challenge was so enormous or unbearable only because at the time they didn't have enough coping resources. If they would have had just one or two more emotional coping resources (and dug the trench around their tent) they could have endured just fine.
(Just think back to last time you knew you were going to have a very challenging busy day or week. What did you think and try to do the day before? Yes YOU PREPARED --got a good night's sleep; organized better; prayed a little harder; ate a good breakfast etc etc. That's what I'm talking about-This is a simple principle.)
... someone, something, or some activity that strengthens you - has a positive influence on your personal life.  As long as the "resource' is "legal" AND "within the bounds the Lord has set" AND  "brings you personal strength" - IT WILL WORK as a coping resource!

Here are some LIST of suggestions

Build Relationships; Take Care of Yourself; Study the Scriptures.... See more @ Keeping Your Life in Balance by M. Russell Ballard
Share Your Frustrations; Don't Forget Humor; Change Your Pace ...  See more @ Dealing with Stress and Discouragement in Ensign 1990
Exercise... See more @ Move More, Stress Less in Ensign August 2004
Avoid Unnecessary Stress; Accept the Things You Cannot Change;... See more @ Stress Management in HelpGuide.Org
Learn Relaxation Techniques; Evaluate Your Expectations Of Yourself ... See more @ When Life Is Getting You Down in Ensign June 1984

Examples from the scriptures of coping resources:

Enos "I went to hunt beasts in the forest." (Enos 1:3)
Joseph F. Smith "I sat in my room pondering..." (D&C 138:1)
Peter "I go a fishing." (John 21:3)
Joseph "I retired to the woods..." (Joseph Smith History 1: 14)
Jesus "withdrew himself into the wilderness,..." (Luke 5:16)
And finally perhaps the best resource I know of:

And God "blessed the a seventh day, ... he had rested from all his work... (Genesis 2:3)

And if you don't like these pick one of your own!

When you're looking for emotional coping resources don't look too hard. Often you've already experienced them or you have had an impression of what might work.

For a few, counseling and medication are valuable resources.

For most, spiritual resources like prayer and reading the scriptures serve as the cornerstone. (See Spiritual Anorexia.) But if ALL you have is prayer and reading the scriptures -that's great for spiritual prepardness and even helps emotional prepardness... BUT its only TWO coping resources. (Same with counseling and medications- that's only TWO.) Experience has taught me:


See dr. rick's Five to Survive

Feelings of being overwhelmed and depressed will occur...
when you have emotionally prepared for scattered showers, but you are facing a typhoon!

From time to time emotional "coping resources" come and go. A resource might be out of town,  too expensive, or lost it's ability to strengthen you. 

Find another.

You need at least FIVE so you always have at least ONE!

Again "Five to Survive"  and "endure to the end." 
"Ten to Peace" and "live happily ever after."

Back to the typhoon
We made it through the typhoon along with most of our equipment. The trench we initially dug eventually turned into much larger ditch. Before it was over there was a virtual river running through our camp. 
Holy Cow- did it ever rain!

"If ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30).

You will survive the storms of life when you have Five Coping Resources. Name them one-by-one:

dr rick
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Sunday, January 13, 2013

God loves you THIS MUCH!

John Albert Taylor (June 6, 1959 – January 26, 1996) was convicted of sexual assault and murder in the state of Utah. Taylor's own sister tipped off police in June 1989 after 11-year-old Charla King was found raped and strangled to death in Washington Terrace, Utah. His fingerprints were found at the crime scene, which was located in an apartment complex where he had been staying. In December 1989, Taylor was sentenced to death and placed on death row at Utah State Prison. He was executed by firing squad on January 26, 1996 (See more: John Albert Taylor)

It's been about 17 years now since John and I spent time together in the old Weber County Jail. He was shackled and handcuffed as he sat across from me in the interview room. The guard brought him up from the "hole." Because of his dangerousness the same guard stood outside the opened door of the interview room not leaving our sight.   I spent hours with John, talking about his life growing up, the murder, etc. etc.

Since John, I've met plenty more murderers.

But NO BEHAVIOR has impressed me as being as EVIL as John's.

Now think before you answer that question.

Certainly God, I and any other descent human would despise John's behavior. But we're not talking about "John's behavior" - were talking about "John." ----

Does the God
... who knows about each sparrow falling and the numbers of hairs on your head; (Matthew 10:29-31)
... who teaches the importance of "one" sheep and one "coin"; (Luke 15:4, 8)
... who seeks out the sinner, the sick and the afflicted; (Mark 2:17; Mark 2:16)
... who prophets have testified He loves us; (1 Nephi 11:17)
... who IS LOVE. (John 4:8)
care about and love John? 

Did "John" cross the line and sin enough to make God stop loving him?

Let's take this thought one step further. What are the limits of your love? What behavior of another would push you away; cause thoughts of disgust and disappointment; prevent you from shaking their hand or giving them a hug ....
How about: -cigarettes? -porn? -tattoos? -alcohol? -body piercings? -same-gender attraction? etc

GOD'S BLESSINGS are conditional upon our behavior
God's blessings AND rewards are based on our "WORTHINESS" and how well we keep His commandments. Worthiness differs for each of us.  If unforgiven, "John" most certainly will receive the consequences for his evil behavior- perhaps a "millstone." (Luke 17:2) (Any good parent realizes at times the need to both administer consequences AND love deeply their children.)

The blessing of FEELING God's love can also be conditional.
This does not mean that God loves us less when we stray, only that we, by our choices and actions, have distanced ourselves from God and His loveThe further we stray from the path of righteousness, the less it seems we can feel God's love.

This is most obvious in lives of LDS Porn Addicts.

For example, I've noticed how much more a "LDS porn addict" detests, dislikes, and despises themselves as well as their sexual habit than other sinners.  It appears the more "LDS" they have been the more they hate themselves and the more distant and unloved they feel.  (A perfect scenario for a successful kill. See: The Lion Sleeps Tonight, NOT!)

Paradoxically, when we are most in need of feeling God's love, in our minds we deserve it least. Sinners tend to think they have offended our Father in heaven to such a degree that they are unworthy of his love and don't deserve it.

Do you get it? There is at least one thing about each of us that will never change...
the perfect love God has for each of us.
"Behold, I say unto you, is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming?" (Alma 39:17)
At NO TIME can God love you less than "perfect". It's impossible.

You cannot sin enough to make God stop loving you.

God's Love is based on our "WORTH" as a child of God.  "Worth" cannot be earned- we brought it with us from the pre-existence as we did His love for us.

God does not love us because we are lovable, cute, have a pleasant personality, or because we go to Church. In spite of our church calling or the nature of our sin we can always count on God wanting to pour out his love on you and I.

Wherever we are on life’s journey, God’s love can find us, come to us there, reach us, and take hold of any and all situations and conditions, and carry us forward, getting us where we are supposed to go.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ...For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God,...." (Romans 8:35-39)
Feeling the power of God's Love is the most important reason for avoiding evil and pursuing righteousness AND the only way to be truly happy. Remember in Lehi’s vision the significance of "partaking" of the "Tree of life" and experiencing "The Love of God."  (1 Nephi 11:21–22).  Check out the consequences of "tasting" the "Love of God":  Mosiah 4:11,12; 1 John 3: 16,17; and 1 John 4:9,)

Regardless of John's despicable behavior he can not move outside of God's Love. (NOR can he move outside the Law of Justice.)

God loves John.

How rewarding it is to know that God believed that- A sinner is greater than all his sins. Is it any wonder Jesus was referred to as the “Good Shepherd”? He loved all of His sheep whether they were strays, hungry, helpless, cold, lost, etc etc.

You are 100% loved by God.

"God will never stop loving ALL of His spirit children," (Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, Pg 138)


What impressions do you have about increasing your ability to feel God's Love for you?

"...Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you."(October 2009, The Love of God, Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

Follow those impressions.

dr rick
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Sunday, January 6, 2013


Recently, a middle aged gentleman made a counseling appointment. He told the story of his teenage prodigal son. His son had problems in school, was using alcohol, and absolutely refused to go to Church. The father acknowledged he has been busy with his job and his Church calling. He had been bishop in his ward for several years now. He pled, Please, just tell me what to do with him?”

In pondering the father's request, I reflected back on lunch. I had just went through the drive-through window at McDonald's where I ordered Two cheeseburgers, a fry and a lemonade.

Their was a striking similarity between the father's request for me to "quick fix his son" and my request of the McDonald's server for a "quick  fix of my lunch".

Fast food mentality is a crippling mindset in our world today.  "I want what I want when I want it and that usually means NOW". This mentality not only affects our physical health, but the same logic now influences our approach to solving emotional concerns.  In solving emotional concerns we  want the "Doctor to tell us" how to solve our concern in not more than "Three easy steps."  (Given the price we charge for a 50 minute counseling session these expectations may not seem unreasonable!) Nevertheless,

IF parents are having problems with a teenage son failing school;
IF a husband is having problems with his wife's control of the money;
IF a wife is having problems with her husband performing his role as the father;
.....Or whatever the life challenge might me... our fast food mentality often influences us to FIRST seek "take out" and


Unfortunately, because of the nature of dealing with emotional concerns and life challenges the 'Fast Food" mentality does not apply.

Whether with a bishop or mental health professional, there is danger FIRST seeking OUTSIDE counsel without having explored personal and family resources. (One of the few exceptions would be a concern like suicide - one should immediately seek outside help.)

Seeking outside help FIRST suggests you are incompetent and do not have the resources to effectively deal with an emotional challenge. THIS IS NOT TRUE! 


In fact, one of the best ways to boost your long-term happiness is to use your strengths in successfully coping with or resolving a life challenge. Each of us has certain strengths that are perhaps so natural to us that we may not even consider them strengths. But those strengths are inside you - between your left ear and right ear. In order for us to grow and become fit for our Father’s Kingdom, we must learn to use these strengths to do hard things.This is our birthright.  

The power is in you... (D & C 58:28) - to do hard things. It really is!
"The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves." (Handbook 2: Administering the Church)  A good counselor would do likewise.  The welfare and psychological principle goes like this:

Church members are responsible for their own spiritual and temporal well-being. Blessed with the gift of agency, they have the privilege and duty to set their own course, solve their own problems, and strive to become self-reliant. Members do this under the inspiration of the Lord and with the labor of their own hands. ... The Lord has commanded members to take care of their minds and bodies. (Handbook 2: Administering the Church 6.1.1)
Here's another quote supporting the idea of self-reliance. 
...The individual, as we teach, ought to do for himself ALL that he can. When he has exhausted his resources, he ought to turn to his family to assist him. When the family can’t do it, the Church takes over.... (This Thing Was Not Done In A Corner, Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign November 1996)
Dallin H. Oaks warns us about a culture of dependency:

… The growth required by the gospel plan only occurs in a culture of individual effort and responsibility. It cannot occur in a culture of dependency. Whatever causes us to be dependent on someone else for decisions or resources we could provide for ourselves weakens us spiritually and retards our growth toward what the gospel plan intends us to be.(Repentance and Change,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, pg. 37).
I've never met a client yet that with some personal effort couldn't generate at least one impression about answering the question "What should I do?" (And believe me I've met some pretty disabled inadequate clients.)

Seeking too quickly and depending too much on another's advice (Even if it's the Bishop!) - places you at risk of "catching" the dreaded condition known as Counselitis.
...We seem to be developing an epidemic of “counselitis which drains spiritual strength from the Church much like the common cold drains more strength out of humanity than any other disease. … Speaking figuratively, many a bishop keeps on the corner of his desk a large stack of order forms for emotional relief. When someone comes with a problem, the bishop, unfortunately, without a question, passes them out, without stopping to think what he is doing to his people. …That, some may assume, is not serious. It is very serious! On one hand, we counsel bishops to avoid abuses in welfare help. On the other hand, some bishops dole out counsel and advice without considering that the member should solve the problem himself ... (Solving Emotional Problems in the Lord's Own Way. Ensign, January 2010, Boyd K. Packer)
When an individual relies FIRST on a church leader, mental health professional or someone else to solve their problem, to give them the answers, to tell them what to do etc etc .... Counselitis begins.
In the late stages of Counselitis the individual becomes dependent on the advice giver and overlooks the importance of self and family resources. Thus, failing to recognize and develop much needed problem solving and coping skills needed for Godhood. The video Stuck on an Escalotor illustrates the FINAL STAGES of "Counselitis." 

Back to the father's request concerning his wayward son
I reminded him of the access he had to personal revelation as a "father" and as a "bishop" in dealing with his son. I felt it was premature for him to be asking me for counsel without having made a serious effort himself to deal with the challenge.  

I asked if he had had any impressions on how he might help his son. He paused and thought. He recalled before he became bishop, he and his son enjoyed going fishing together. At which point the father added, I’ve thought maybe I should take him fishing again." Then he quickly added, "I really don’t have the time ... Doctor, just tell me what to do!”

I told him what to do, "Take your son fishing."
(I didn't charge him $100--but in hind sight I should have.)

1) Identify your life challenge with as much clarity as possible.
2) Accept responsibility for your life challenge. (See:
The Gift)
3) Think about it for at least a week.

4) Assess your resources and stress levels. (See: Five to Survive)
5) Pray about it for at least a week.
6) Fast at least one time about it.

7) Search the internet including LDS.org for related problems and solutions.
8) Talk about it with a trusted family member.
9) And if you're LDS - Have youre name placed in the local LDS Temple and ask for a priesthood blessing.
10) Be sensitive to impressions you receive.

One impression may be to do all the steps for another week.

And of course another impression may indeed be go to the bishop or a mental health professional! And if that impression comes after you've made a personal effort to solve your concern, fine.
"Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask..." (D & C 9:7
dr rick
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