Mari Craig, LCSW-C, CCDC, CPC

Archive for the ‘Living’ Category

Benefits of Divorce Coaching

In Divorce, Living, Rockville MD Divorce Coach on June 7, 2012 at 11:02 pm

The most important gift to give yourself when transitioning out of a marriage or relationship is to focus on the one person who matters most…you.  Yet, this can be the hardest thing to do at a time when you are feeling the most vulnerable.  During marriage both partners develop a shared identity and when it has ended they suffer the loss of that identity that leaves each person feeling a chasm of loneliness. 

Many newly separated and divorced people experience the feeling of being in a fishbowl with life swirling around in confusion. These myriad feelings are best worked through with the guidance of a divorce coach who is able to help you understand and cope with the stages of grief.   It is during this time that finding your inner compass becomes imperative.

To navigate this uncharted territory the guidance you receive from divorce coaching helps you discover a path of clarity and provides support before, during and after divorce.  It also helps you to determine the best interests of your children and provides support to help you rebuild your life.

The guidance you receive before, during and after divorce provides the continuity of knowing that you have professional support that will help you go the distance throughout the entire process.  It is easy to get off track when friends are influencing you, however with a divorce coach you are working with the one person who can be completely objective from a professional perspective.

Your divorce coach provides accountability and a reliable structure that fosters safety in a non-judgmental setting that helps you articulate your goals and needs. Coaching helps you to ascertain what issues are important, and to communicate them more effectively with your mediator(s) and/or legal counsel. In this way you will break through barriers and make greater progress in discovering the strategies that are right for you.

As previously stated, a divorce coach helps you to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be. I have found that the Intentional Life Power Program, which I have developed, is uniquely effective for helping my clients accomplish their goals and set priorities.  You too, can learn to visualize and manifest the intention you have set for yourself. In eight simple steps you develop your personal roadmap to get you where you need to be.

The ILP Chart you have written it should be similar to one by Danielle a recently divorced client with whom I coached through a difficult transition.  She articulated difficulty with low self-esteem and no clear plan on how to deal with it. With my help, she honed an intention to build positive self-esteem with a clear plan for the next twelve months (5 to 6 on a scale of 10).  She began to focuse her energies by developing a clear action plan.   By envisioning the person she wanted to become on a daily basis she was able to imagine her self-esteem growing.  “I see myself deserving to be an Independent and confidant woman.  I see myself going through the day building positive self-esteem with a clear plan for the next twelve months (5 to 6 on a scale of 10).  I vividly envision nurturing myself through prayer and by meditating on the words power and calm and by passionately envisioning my intention twice daily. “  Danielle “took the leap” by manifesting her intention on a regular basis and saw evidence in her daily life that she was growing in positive self-esteem.

If you were an athlete your body would be conditioned by daily workouts to win at your sport. So it is with manifesting your intention. I recommend completing your ILP Chart on a large sheet of paper and monitoring your progress daily. Place both the Chart and progress monitor sheet on a wall where it will be easily seen. You may make changes as needed to keep both current.

Just as Danielle has been able to accomplish her intention with commitment and coaching so can you. This transition period is an excellent time for introspection, growth and building an authentic relationship with yourself.  It is also a good time for taking an inventory of past mistakes, self– discovery and planning for the future.  This is your opportunity to become centered, focused and mature in your own right to insure that your future will be stable and happy with the support of your own divorce coach.


Exploring Your Inner Self

In Living on September 13, 2011 at 1:28 am

Are you afraid to unmask your authentic self and communicate your needs with openness and honesty? When you feed into the expectations of others do you find it creates cycles of dysfunction?  When this happens, do you feel stuck and unable to change these destructive patterns of behavior and communication?

When I counsel people, I find that there is frequently an illusive disconnection in their ability to live an authentic and healthy life. For example, I counseled a frustrated middle-aged man who had been mandated for counseling by his employer for not showing up on time.  He divulged that his wife’s depression and isolation had been the cause of his daily drinking and resulting tardiness.  If he were able to unmask his true feelings with his wife he might not need to resort to daily drinking. If only she could understand that she doesn’t need to be the victim of depression she might not feel the need to isolate. Therapy helps people to look at themselves and their relationships and understand these psychodynamics and deal with them in a constructive rather than a destructive way.

A young college age woman had given into her boyfriend’s egocentric demands including having her baby aborted.  In counseling she exclaimed, “I love him even though I am the one who always makes a move to keep our relationship together.”  She terminated therapy and continued to pursue that destructive relationship. Similarly, are you sacrificing your values in hopes of salvaging a relationship?  Therapy can be helpful in these situations with self-esteem building and assertiveness training.

A forty year-old woman had come to me for couple’s therapy along with her alcoholic husband. Although separated, she was prepared to return to the marriage after a year of therapy.  This, despite his continued verbal abuse, stopping AA meetings, and two broken contracts to stop drinking.  When confronted with this evidence, she responded, “I just believe that marriage is meant to be forever…no matter what.”  It seemed that the demon of denial was working overtime. Counseling helps to break through denial and patterns of codependency, but a willingness to be open and honest is essential.

Finally, a fifty-five year old male came in for counseling with his volatile wife.  After 30 plus years of marriage, she complained of feeling trapped and not being valued by him.  It became clear that she was willing to leave her husband for a man 30 years her junior.  He insisted, “I love her and want her back even though she screams at me for nothing every day without fail.” If they had returned to counseling they would have learned how to develop positive self-esteem and healthy communication skills to build a loving couple’s relationship.

People can learn to unmask their authentic selves and develop the lives and relationships that they’ve always wanted. When there is a connection between your authentic self and the way you live a huge burden is lifted from your life.  A willingness and commitment to doing the work of counseling can go a long way towards helping you find inner peace and contentment in your life.

Creativity Time

In Living, Uncategorized on July 10, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Being on sabbatical these past few months has been a refreshing opportunity for much needed creativity time.  On the professional side, I have recharged my batteries with some new and challenging activities.  Personally speaking, I have been able to find creativity in old familiar ways.  Together these have allowed me to have a new wellspring of creativity to share with you.

Professionally, I have been creating workshops for groups of divorced people.  One workshop was for those who are newly divorced and the other for those who have been divorced for longer than one year.  Each of these groups were about using the Intentional Life Power Program; albeit differently.  With the former group it was about making a new start despite the anger, fear and loss.  In the later group, the focus was on rebuilding with the energies of being a person with a clear individual identity and purpose.  Each of these phases is important regardless of which transition phase you are going through.  Life is a lot like that – finding that place within where we can grieve, let go of the past and move on to building a brighter and more promising future.

Personally, I have been able to find creativity in ways that I had drifted away from – meditation and writing poetry. My morning meditations have allowed the spirit in me to rediscover itself with a sense of belonging much like a homecoming.  That special sense of wholeness is the unique gift of the meditative experience to me.  This in turn has provided a creative outlet through poetry writing as it did in my younger years. Meditation allows me to have a spirit connection while writing poetry provides the creative connection.  For me, this is a nurturing way to begin my day with a contentment that lasts all day long.

Personal and professional realms are equally important in order to have a creative connection with ourselves.  For many of us there is a need to be reminded of the value in consistently nurturing ourselves.  My wish for you is that you may come to value consistently nurturing yourself and see yourself as someone who deserves to be nurtured…who knows you may rediscover that creative spirit in you that has long been forgotten and needs befriending.

Step Eight: Manifesting Your Intention

In Living on January 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm

In previous entries I went through the first seven steps of my 8-step Intentional Life Power program using the case of Barbara, a coaching client of mine, who wanted to transition from a stressful job as a full-time teacher to a more flexible part-time role as a high-school English tutor.

After taking each critical step in my ILP program and envisioning her intention, as described in Step 7, Barbara was ready to move on to Step 8 and take the action necessary to manifest her intention – to do the work to become the person she wanted to be.

Manifesting intentions starts with owning the mindset of where you want to be.  Barbara began to act the part of the tutor with confidence, courage and the unshakable belief that she could do it. With this mindset she was able to take concrete steps towards realizing her intention.

Barbara began to network fearlessly with friends, peers and successful tutors to learn more about the work she wanted to do.  She researched the position fully and took courses to help her get recognized as a tutor. Soon she happily started to take on tutoring work in local high schools and initiated a private tutoring service.

Today, she is thrilled with the flexibility and freedom that comes with her chosen profession. Barbara’s experience with the ILP program has also given her additional tools to help her achieve other goals in her life.

When you begin manifesting your intention you start to let go of self-imposed limitations and create more options and possibilities for yourself.

The 8-step Intentional Life Power program is your personal program for success and you have my support to guide you as the need arises. Now is your time to become one with your inner power with great courage, confidence and joy.

Step Seven: Envisioning Your Intention

In Living on January 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm

When we plan a trip we envision the destination and the experiences we want to encounter. When we arrive we can enjoy being present and satisfied with our efforts. Step seven is about using our imagination to envision what it would be like to achieve our goals and creating a picture of what we want our life to look like.

To help Barbara envision what her life would look like once she became a high school tutor, I had her create a dream board with drawings and pictures that were associated with her intention.  She drew pictures and pasted magazine cut outs of how she wanted her life to look. She even added a few amazing photos of times when she had felt the most confident in her life.

Every morning after Barbara awoke she studied her dream board for a few minutes and then meditated on her goal. Before long she could easily visualize herself confidently taking the steps to achieve her intention.

The power of your imagination is boundless and when harnessed can take you virtually anywhere your heart desires.


Step Six: Developing Your Personal Power Statements

In Living, Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm

In past entries, we’ve been looking at the ILP case of a coaching client of mine named Barbara who wanted to transition from her job from being a full-time teacher to a more flexible role as a high school English tutor.

After completing step five in which Barbara created power circles to visually represent the mindset she needed to achieve her goal she proceeded to take the sixth step and develop three Personal Power Statements.

Barbara’s Personal Power Statements would become both an action plan and a mantra that would help guide her towards her intention.  For each statement she would use the following prefixes: I deserve, I intend and I follow through.  Her statements read as follows:

  • I deserve to believe in myself and have contentment in my profession
  • I intend to be courageous by taking the steps required to tutor part-time
  • I follow through with determination and confidence

By developing power statements that echo your building blocks, power words, and power circles you are shifting from ideas towards more action oriented thinking. Taking this step instills a firm belief in your mind that you can actualize your intentions.

Step Five: Developing Your Power Circles

In Living on December 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm

In prior entries I take you through the first three steps of my Intentional Life Power program using the case of Barbara who wanted to transition from a stressful position as a teacher to a part-time high school English tutor.

In step one, Barbara admitted she lacked the courage to take necessary the steps towards becoming a tutor.

In step two, she defined her intention – to move past doubt and fear and take the steps required to fulfill her goal.

In step three, Barbara selected the building blocks she felt would give her energy to accomplish her intention.  She chose the Mental and Emotional building blocks. She then chose Personal Power Words to further define her Mental building block (courage, belief, tenacity and determination) and Emotional building block (satisfaction, passion, contentment and confidence).

For step five of my ILP program, the objective is to transform your building blocks and personal power words into a visual representation of the mindset you need in order to achieve your goal. This is best done by drawing Power Circles, which symbolically represent the infinite nature of energy and the capacity of energy to achieve intention.

However many Power Circles you have chosen, draw each of them on a blank sheet of paper so that they all overlap and intersect with each other – do this in a way so that you have a clear center. Label each power circle the same energy as each of your building blocks and draw an image inside each circle that captures the essence of that circle.  For example, if you have a Spiritual building block create a Spiritual power circle labeled Spiritual with image of a lotus flower. Finally, in each power circle include the corresponding personal power words you’ve chosen to help fuel your intention.

Barbara took her building blocks and personal power words and created her power circles. She also added beautiful images to each of her circles to help anchor them in her thoughts. In the process of doing this she was able to visualize her goal and believe in her ability to achieve it.

By actively working through this step, you begin to shift your mind away from abstract rumination and intractability towards a concrete intention and more directionally appropriate thinking.

Steps Three & Four: Selecting Building Blocks and Personal Power Words

In Living on November 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm

The Intentional Life Power (ILP) Program is much like peeling the layers of an onion to discover the truth of who you are and the actions you need to take to lead a more fulfilling life.

Barbara, a woman who came to me for life-coaching, wanted to transition from being a full-time school teacher to tutoring high school English.

As indicated in step two of my ILP program, Barbara defined her problem – I lack the courage to take the steps to tutor part-time. Based on this problem I coached Barbara to define her intention – to be courageous and take the steps required to become a part-time tutor.”

Barbara was now ready to move to Step Three: Selecting Your Building Blocks.

Imagine arriving at the house of your dreams. It’s built in beautiful Georgian brick style practically glowing in sunshine and filling you with happiness.  Unexpectedly, you encounter a huge problem – there are no steps leading up to the front door. Without those steps it’s impossible to get into your house.

Just as building blocks are needed to construct the house of your dreams and, more importantly, the steps to the front door, they are also used define/build your goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them.

In Step Three, we choose building blocks to help us define our goals and those areas of our lives we want to improve. For example, if our goal is to be healthy, we choose Physical Building Blocks for eating right and exercising. If we want to be more spiritual, we select Spiritual Building Blocks for prayer and meditation. Other examples of building blocks include Mental, Emotional, Financial, Relationship, etc. These Building blocks may also be used in different combinations as needed.

Barbara chose Mental and Emotional Building Blocks because they felt the most appropriate for her goal. To accomplish her intention, Barbara needed to be courageous which she considered to be Mental Building Block energy. She also chose Emotional Building Blocks to construct the contentment and deep feelings of satisfaction she wanted.

Just as critical as the bricks themselves is the mortar that keeps them together. In Step Four: Choosing Your Personal Power Words, we are selecting the mortar.

The Personal Power Words Barbara chose to further define her Emotional Building Block were passion, contentment and confidence.  For her Mental Building Blocks, she chose believe, tenacity and determination.

Many of us have habitually looked outside ourselves since childhood for what we need.  As adults we learn that being autonomous and looking within is a healthy way of getting in touch with our personal power.  The practice of working with Building Blocks and Personal Power Words makes it easier for people to specify their goals while giving them the power and energy necessary to achieving the life they want.

In other cases such as with Angie, a recent divorcée, and Rick, an investment banker, Building Blocks and Personal Power Words have been effective

Angie began to look inside herself to discover the Building Block energy she needed to serve her intention, which was “to heal from her marriage and move on with her life”. She expressed the inner turmoil she experienced, “the thoughts and feelings that I have keep me stuck in my old rut.”  The Building Block Angie chose was “Spiritual” and the Personal Power Word she selected to define that spiritual energy was “Heal.”

Rick lost complete trust in his abilities as an investment banker. In Step Two, Rick’s intention was to trust his investing knowledge and expertise.  He selected the Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Building Blocks.   The Personal Power Words he chose to support his Mental building block was discipline, focus and knowledge; for Emotional he chose neutralize and patience; for Spiritual he picked  meditation, mindful and clarity. Rick had taken his power back, which increased his confidence to achieve his intention.

For Rick, the keys that unlocked his power were in the particular combination of Building Blocks he selected and how he defined them with his Personal Power Words.  Rick discovered the secret within him by using ILP and in so doing had set himself free to take his power back to regain trust in his abilities.

You too can set yourself free to take your own power back, as well by working these steps on your own.

Step Two: Defining Your Intention with the Intentional Life Power Program

In Living on August 9, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Making better choices is something all of us strive for, yet many of us have a great difficulty consistently making decisions that are beneficial for ourselves and those around us.

If you find yourself repeatedly sabotaging your goals and dreams through poor decisions then The Intentional Life Power Program (ILP) can help you identify core issues/problems that may be holding you back so you can establish clear intentions and move forward in your life.

In my previous post, Step One: Defining Your Problem with the Intentional Life Power Program, I described how to identify problems using the example of Barbara who defined her problem as lacking the courage to take the leap from being an overworked high school teacher to being a more fulfilled freelance tutor for high school English students.  Over the time I spent with her, Barbara became more comfortable with the making the radical life shift by regularly meditating on her goal.

Ultimately Barbara was able to make a deep mental and emotional shift as I coached her in refining the definition of her problem.  After several attempts, she was able to clearly define her problem as “an inability to find the courage to take the steps towards becoming a freelance tutor”.  Now that Barbara was able to articulate her problem she was in a better position to establish her intention.  As I continued to work with Barbara, she began to confront her fears of failure and the myriad excuses for not working towards what would make her life happier and more fulfilling.

While making decisions can be extremely difficult, as it certainly was in Barbara’s case, it must be pointed out that people can get in their own way by allowing their anxieties to prevent them from moving ahead.  At one point, Barbara confessed, “I have always had a hard time making decisions and I sell myself short every time when I flip-flop this way”.

As I coached Barbara through each of her anxieties and excuses she discovered that none of them were valid.  She began to look deeply into herself and take back the power she had over her life and the dreams she wanted.  Once she found the source of her personal power within herself she was ready to commit to change.

After serious introspection, Barbara drew in a deep breath and articulated her intention as “I intend to find the resolve within myself to be courageous and take the steps to tutor part-time.”  At last, she had worked through her anxieties and made the tough choice to move ahead with her life and to be a fulfilled woman.

Making the choice to define your intention can be the hardest and most critical step in the ILP Program.  Barbara was able align herself with her intention and once she had done that her dormant inner forces came to support her and she would never be the same.

Step One: Defining Your Problem with the Intentional Life Power Program

In Living on July 18, 2010 at 9:30 pm

People often have great difficulty resolving problems in their lives because they are unable identify core issues deep within themselves. People tend to address problems that are symptomatic of their core issues and typically find themselves running into the same problems over and over again.

The Intentional Life Power Program (ILP), which I have honed over my past 20 years as a therapist and life coach, takes a more effective path towards identifying and resolving core problems and enable you to flourish.  Since what is on the surface may only be the tip of the iceberg, the concept of delving below the layers of possible reasons may lead you to discover alternative explanations that may be the true source of the problem.

In my previous post, Achieving Dreams with the Intentional Life Power Program, I gave an overview of the ILP process and used Angie’s experience as an example. Angie, who was transitioning through divorce, initally attributed her problem to her husband and in-laws. Angie found the courage to look deep within herself to discover that it was her perception of herself and her lack of confidence that were at the root of her problems. From there she developed the intention to work on her self-perception, confidence or interpersonal communication to build a new, more positive sense of her life.

One particularly effective way to get to the heart of a problem is by using the Downward Arrow approach.  This approach takes you through a series of “what else“ questions to help strip away the layers until the core issue or problem is revealed.

Consider the case of Rick, a former high-powered stock trader who bottomed out through a few poor choices and could no longer trust himself to make sound decisions.  Using the downward arrow technique to discover “what else” was really causing him enormous anxiety and self-doubt, Rick was able to peel away the layers to uncover subconscious motives and explanations.

After great introspection, Rick found a part of him did not believe he had sufficient knowledge and experience in investing despite having taken high-level investment courses his whole life. That might have held him back, but we continued to pursue why he felt this was the case.  Rick divulged that he trusted brokers more than himself despite the well-known fact that brokers aren’t any more successful at stock pics than the average investor.   As we continued to examine other possible reasons for this problem we found that Rick needed to practice investing by making regular paper trades.  For Rick, it was about building trust and confidence in his own skills and in timing when to enter and exit trades by having a back-tested system in place.  As I coached Rick through the layers in his mind to a clear definition of his problem he was able to gain the confidence he needed to do the work of developing an appropriate intention.  The more clearly defined your problem is the more you open the way for an effective intention.

Another coaching client of mine, Barbara, wanted to transition from her job as an English teacher. Barbara found herself stuck in a job burdened with heavy administrative duties and after school tutoring.  She was stuck because she felt disrespected in her job role yet had “gotten used to putting up with it”.

Using the downward arrow technique, Barbara discovered a few underlying reasons for her behavior.  She felt overwhelmed by the challenges of starting a new job and she let her anxiety dictate where she would put her teaching focus – test taking or writing skills.  She admitted that she was afraid that she would end up doing what she didn’t like because tutoring for test taking was in high demand.

Through further self-inquiry, Barbara realized there were other subconscious issues at play. She was having difficulty accepting the unknown and being able to rely on and trust her ability to take the risk and survive.  She exclaimed, “it’s been a long time since I’ve been out on my own and I need to find the courage to take the leap despite my fear in order to be fulfilled”.  Barbara’s came to acknowledge that a key issue was the lack of courage.

The process of discovering the true reasons for your problems is about continually peeling away the layers of possible explanations until you find the fundamental reason is for the problem you are experiencing. The process requires hard work and brutal honesty.  Once you have done this you will be able to make the shift to a more definitive way of solving your problems from a more practical perspective.

To get comfortable with this new shift on a deeper level may require just relaxing and being with it through regular meditation and/or deep breathing.  When you get to the heart of your problems your intentions will be right and resonate with you on a deep level.   Angie, Barbara, and Rick took huge steps on their journey through their ILP program.

Either by yourself or with the support of a life coach or psychotherapist, you can open the way for a whole new beginning in your life by using the ILP Program.