Do you have an inner critic?

We all have an internal monologue or ‘self-talk’ that arises at various times or in various situations. Self-talk can also be described as a still small voice or a whisper that arises in one’s mind. Ultimately, what we say to ourselves or about a situation can either encourage us, assist us, bring relief; or, it can have a negative impact on our mood, esteem, body, and behavior. If one’s self-talk is critical and condemning, and it is continued over time, it creates a bleak landscape for one’s life.

How do you identify your inner dialogue? Try making a list of 5 automatic statements you say to yourself during a day. Observe these automatic thoughts and consider how they influence you. Practice this activity several times a week to determine what your landscapes look like. The objective of this practice is to recognize the quality of your self-talk.

If you find that you have an inner critic, try the following tips to improve your self-talk.

  1. Utilize positive affirmations. You can create your own, use Bible verses, or positive quotes.
  2. Use positive counterstatements to challenge the negative dialogue.
  3. Keep affirming messages around you (decor, magnets, post-it notes, etc…).
  4. Create art activities with affirmations.
  5. Incorporate a daily calendar with affirmations and encouraging quotes.
  6. Utilize media. Listen to encouraging songs, sermons, or podcasts. Watch inspiring videos or movies.

What we tell ourselves really does make a difference.  Gentle attention to our self-talk over time will quiet the inner critic. Here are some statements to get you started.

I am lovable.

I am in control.

I am safe, secure, protected.

I am a valuable person.

I have a unique plan and purpose for my life.

I have inner strength.

I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.


Wishing you wellness and peace,

Dr. Monica

A Compassionate Documentary on Borderline Personality Disorder

The Epiphany That Helped Me When My Son Was Treated for Cancer -Client Submission

One day during the 14 months that our teenage son, Thomas, was being treated for a recurrence of Rhabdomyosarcoma, a very rare and aggressive pediatric cancer, I had an epiphany. It was an epiphany on the struggle to stay in the present in order to enjoy the richness that each moment of life brings, even when the present is supremely difficult. The thought I had was, living in the present is not for the weak. It is not for the weak because it is scary and hard to do when the present itself is sad, traumatizing and painful. Living in the present, in the Now, requires patience, courage and fortitude.

In life, goodness and peace may come, but sometimes heart-wrenching difficulties come as well.  That is life. The reality is, we only have the now, this one second, and then the next, and the next, etc. One second into the future does not exist until it exists… up until then, it is not our reality. The past is full of memories, but it is not our reality either. We can learn from the past and take the good from the past, but the past is not our reality. Reality is right. This. Second. And that is how I somehow managed to survive and love every second I had fighting to save Thomas.

I could only do that when I stayed in each precise moment. I still had to prepare and plan for the future, but emotionally I had to force myself to stay in the present and try, try, try to detach myself from the sadness of the past and the worries of the future. Focusing on the love in each moment as much as possible is how my husband and I strived to keep our family intact.

We are not perfect at this skill… and it is a skill; it must be practiced. It is a skill I still must continually

work on. But I truly believe in it, believe in the value of it, believe in the peace that it brings and believe in how completely enriching it is to really be present. It is not about forcing yourself to be giddy and joyful in every moment. That is not the point. The point is that I believe many of the darkest moments of the present offer a kernel of goodness, of insight, of the Divine.

When taken cumulatively, I believe those golden nuggets of successive “moments in the now” add up to a beautiful, wonderful and blessed life well and truly lived.

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Grief can shake the foundation of a person’s being for days, months, and even years. Whether it be a sudden loss or a slow unfolding loss, the adjustment experience can impact one’s body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Often the intensity and duration of grief is in proportion to the meaning, bond, and depth of the relationship the person had with the individual.

Shock and confusion, pain, emptiness, angry laments, a broken heart, disappointment are normal and acceptable expressions of grief. One will wander through the wilderness of grief experiencing and expressing grief in a manner unique to him or her. Take comfort in knowing there is not a predefined right way or time limit to this process. Personalities, family histories, cultural influences, and spiritual beliefs all impact and play a critical role in the manner in which one grieves.

Ultimately, ‘grief work’ involves mourning, readjusting, renegotiating and redefining roles. It requires a courageous spirit, and often the support of a sojourner, to move through the dark wilderness of one’s soul to a place where there is healing and light.

To understand this process further, the following book is highly recommended: The Unwanted Gift of Grief by Tim P. VanDuivendyk, D.Min.

Wishing you wellness and peace,


ReSOLVE: A Guide to Post Traumatic Growth – Feature Documentary

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What are you listening to?

I love music! In one day, I can listen to several different genres of music depending on my mood and the activity I’m engaged in. Music excites, ignites, calms and soothes and draws upon our memories. It can stimulate feelings of agitation or sadness; it can also lift our spirits, leaving us to sing out loud and perhaps, even, daring to dance.

With such an emotional impact, why not integrate music within the therapeutic process? Therapy isn’t bound to just traditional talk therapy. Therapy ought to be creative, expressive, and fluid. It should mirror the uniqueness of each individual. Over time, clients have shared songs they have recorded, brought in their guitars to strum, shared YouTube music links, and/or shared their iTunes playlist as means to communicate their place in life, their view of the world and their inner thoughts and feelings.

I welcome this creative and expressive forum, as I always walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the person. So whether it is Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train or Sara Evan’s, A Little Bit Strong, let’s take a listen together.

Wishing you wellness and peace,


Everybody Hurts


Adapting to sorrow, change and loss takes time. Grief is draining and immobilizing. It can wear people down and impact one’s ability to function in life. Pain, confusion, shock, distress are universal responses. Vacillation between emotions is common. Be gentle with yourself. You may need more rest, sleep, or support. Take comfort in your friends and fellowships. Be reassured the all-too-convenient concept and expectation of ‘closure’ will vary based on spiritual beliefs, culture, familial support, resilience, maturation, etc. Making meaning of this human experience, grief, is a process; be gentle with yourself and hold on.

Wishing you wellness and peace,


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Your Heart’s a Mess -Gotye



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I can’t help but take time to reflect on several recent counseling sessions that have inspired me. It isn’t because a grand revelation was made, or even the presenting problem solved; but rather, the individuals were able to seize moments of joy, laughter and hope in the midst of their personal storm.

I admire their determined resilience and ability to laugh even in the midst of anxiety…the parent who has a child diagnosed with schizophrenia, the mother who is piecing her life back together after a divorce, the man who is dealing with the lasting effects of substance abuse, the spouse who is coming to terms with their partner’s addiction.

There is certainly not anything laughable about these circumstances, yet the clients were able to capture moments of simply laughing out loud despite these concerns.
What is the point of all this? Laughter is healing and therapeutic. It is a good medicine. I am grateful for the times when I can join with the person who is able to capture moments of joy within pain, laughter within sorrow and hope within despair. May we all embrace these moments- go ahead, laugh out loud.

Wishing you wellness and peace,



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Forgiveness is an intentional choice, not a feeling. It is a decision to let go of resentment, anger, grudges, bitterness and thoughts of revenge. Forgiveness can lessen its emotional and physical grip on you and allow you to re-focus your energy onto the most positive parts of your life.

Forgiving is not forgetting, excusing, or being weak. It doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong or excuse the act.  More often than not, forgiveness does not change the offending person, the situation, or erase the memory; however, it can change you. It can guide you towards a place that provides greater emotional freedom allowing you to take responsibility for your needs and feelings. It is best summed up in the song lyrics by Matthew West, Forgiveness.

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what its power can do

So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you.

Wishing you wellness and peace,


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