Unsupported? Simple Tips to Get The Help You Need


Feeling overwhelmed is something that we all experience all too often. Our “to-do” lists are seemly endless between work, home life, family life, relationships, and every other commitment or obligation we may have. Because of this, it becomes very easy for us to fall into the mindset of “I have to get everything done!” and we feel like “everything is up to us” which hinders us from getting the help we need.

Furthermore, sometimes, we struggle to open up to the help that’s available because “it’s just easier to do it by ourselves.”  And other times, we know we need help, but we’re not sure how to ask for it, or if it’s even worth it. However, Theology of the Body reminds us that we’re never alone. We were created for communion. By helping each other and opening up to the help that others are able to offer, we grow together and support each other in becoming everything we were meant to be. We should never hesitate to ask for help or, for that matter, offer help when given the chance. Mutual service is the heart of creating a community of love.

Here are three More2Life Hacks for getting the help you need:

Recognize You Need Help–Sometimes it’s hard to know that we need help. We get so caught up in “just getting through this” that we don’t notice that we’re getting further and further in over our heads. If you are starting to feel harried or resentful, those are your emotions’ way of telling you it’s time to ask for help. Whether you are struggling with keeping up with the house work or having a hard time working through a marriage or family problem, resist the temptation to just keep pushing through. Instead, ask yourself, “what kind of support would help me get through this situation more gracefully?” Even if it’s difficult to arrange for that kind of help right now, identifying the help or support that you need allows you to start looking for ways to get more of that kind of support in the future.

No One Is A Mind-Reader!–Often we don’t ask for help because we assume it’s so obvious that we need it that if other people aren’t offering, they must either be too busy or just uninterested in helping us. People can’t read minds! If you need help, you need to ask for it! Remember, Theology of the Body reminds us that there are two ways to be generous; by helping people, and by allowing people to use their gifts to help us. Don’t you feel good when you can make a difference in someone else’s life? Well, give someone the gift of feeling good about making a difference in yours. No, that doesn’t justify being a “user” but it does remind us that we’re not meant to struggle alone. You have a right to ask for–and expect to get– the help you need.

Keep At It–Sometimes it can be hard to get the support we need even when we ask for it.  Sometimes that help isn’t readily available. Other times, people are reluctant to help. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that means you’re doomed to keep feeling like it’s all up to you. Instead, bring the situation to God, and ask him for the strength to keep seeking the help you need to overcome the particular challenge you are facing. God did not mean for us to struggle alone. He wants you to get the help you need to thrive. Don’t stop looking for ways to either find the right help or hold accountable the people who are meant to help you. Remember the parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge. The widow only got the judge to help her because she persisted to the point of driving him mad. If we need help, have the courage to persevere in asking for it until you get it.

For more insight into getting the help you’ve been looking for, check out God Help Me These People Are Driving Me Nuts!, tune into More2Life Monday-Friday 10am E/9am C on SiriusXM 139, or check out our tele-counseling services at CatholicCounselors.com

Are Cola Wars Killing YOUR Marriage?


We all have our preferred brands: Our favorite kind of soda, our favorite brand of ice cream, or even our favorite type of laundry detergent. But did you know that our personal brand preferences can have a serious effect on our relationships and even cause divorce? It’s not as silly as it sounds.

A new study conducted at Duke University reveals that “preferring different brands can affect our happiness in relationships more than shared interests or personality traits.” Researchers discovered that the more powerful or influential partner in the relationship usually determines what brands the couple uses, however this can have a negative effect on the happiness of the lower power, or less influential, partner. Power, in this case, is indicated by an individual’s ability to shape or influence their partners’ behavior. Because of this, the less powerful partner usually loses out on buying his or her preferred brand, which could cause increased levels of unhappiness long term.

In other words, when one partner is consistently choosing their preferred brands without considering your preferences it can lead you to feel uncared for and undervalued.  Plus, since these are such little things, no one wants to make a big fuss about it, so the petty resentments can pile up into one big mountain of, “You ALWAYS get EVERYTHING you want! When do I get MY turn?”

Take heart, however, because knowledge is power. With this information about brand influence, we have options for how to negotiate this potential problem. First, we can talk to our partner and learn to compromise. For example, one week we will buy Diet Coke and the next week we will buy Diet Pepsi. Second, we can adopt new preferred brands. For example, instead of buying either of the originally preferred brands of cereal, we can go to the store with our partner and find a cereal we both enjoy. The point is, the devil really is in the details.  Even though any one of these micro-conflicts is no big deal, a little thoughtfulness, over the long haul, goes a long way. Taking small steps like these can have a big impact on the overall health, well-being, and happiness of our relationships.

For more tips on how to have a happy and healthy relationship, check out When Divorce Is Not An Option: How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love or contact us at Pastoral Solutions Institute on the phone (740.266.6461) or online at CatholicCounselors.com

5 Key Ways to Prepare for Spiritual Direction


Guest post by Deacon Dominic Cerrato, Ph.D.

Spiritual direction is a great way to grow closer to Jesus Christ and His Church. This is particularly true when there is a good “fit” between the director and directee. That said, simply going to spiritual direction for its own sake is not enough.  Spiritual direction is not an end-in-itself, but a means to an end; intimate communion with our Lord through growth in the interior life.

To better appreciate this important distinction, consider this analogy. When we’re sick we typically visit our primary care provider to seek relief.  If our provider prescribes a particular procedure, drug or therapy and if we don’t follow this counsel, we shouldn’t expect to get better. Simply put, we need to actively participate in the therapeutic process if we are to be healed.

The same is true for spiritual direction. For spiritual direction to be effective, for the directee to draw closer to Jesus, he or she must actively participate in the process. There is nothing more challenging as a spiritual director than to have a directee come to direction unprepared hoping that the director, by his intercession and counsel, will fix the problem. Authentic spiritual direction requires work on the part of the directee. This is not at all to suggest that grace is not operative.  In fact, it assumes grace to be in effect such that the “work” represents the directee’s response to a divine initiative already begun in his or her life.

Here are five key ways to better prepare and participate in spiritual direction.

Approach the Session in a State of Grace Spiritual direction helps the directee to hear God more clearly and follow Him more faithfully.  These essential aspects of the interior life are significantly diminished if we are not in a state of grace. The state of grace is the condition of a person who is free from mortal sin and living in an ever-deepening friendship with Jesus Christ. If the director is not a priest, then the directee should seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to the session. If the director is a priest, then Reconciliation can take place during the session.

Keep a Journal or Notebook We can tend to think of our encounters with God as separate and disconnected events. Like occasionally bumping into someone we know while out shopping, the relationship lacks a sense of continuity and intimacy. Nothing is further from the truth when it comes to God.  He is ever-present and always communicating His love to us. By keeping a journal or small notebook and recording these events, we begin to see that they are not fragmented messages, but parts of a larger conversation. Writing them down enables us to see patterns and these patterns can be brought into spiritual direction to discover, in a deeper sense, God’s plan for our lives.

Prioritize What You Want to Talk About Spiritual direction occurs in sessions that are, by their very nature, limited. If it has been a while between sessions, the directee may want to discuss several things.  By prayerfully prioritizing the list, he or she can ensure that the most important things are addressed making the session fruitful and effective.

This prioritization can also have another effect. It can help us to distinguish the more important aspects of spiritual growth from the less important aspects. Too often we are distracted and confused by the many spiritual challenges we face. Prioritizing our talking points within the context of prayer and meditation refocuses our spiritual life so that the secondary aspects don’t diminish the primary enabling us to make real progress in the spiritual life.

Recognize that Spiritual Direction Is Not Pastoral Counseling Properly understood, the primary focus of spiritual direction is the directees’ relationship with God and concerns the promptings of the Holy Spirit. In this respect, it is aimed at the salvation of the directees’ soul through a response to our Lord’s personal initiative to follow Him. Consequently, direction always takes place within the framework of prayer and spiritual intimacy.

Pastoral Counseling, on the other hand, seeks to address, struggle through, and resolve problems in our lives and relationships within a Christian context. Where spiritual direction tends to look forward toward growth in intimacy with Jesus Christ, pastoral counseling tends to look backward toward healing past hurts. That said, both must bring the directee/client into the present.

Because the interior life must, by its very nature, express itself in the exterior life, the life of our choices and actions; spiritual direction also includes pastoral guidance. This involves sound, practical, and prudent counsel by the spiritual director to the directee regarding their choices and actions. This insures integrity and consistency between the faith we believe and the moral life we live.

While there is some overlap between spiritual direction and pastoral counseling, the focus, emphasis and gifts of the spiritual director and counselor are different and address different concerns. The person should understand these differences and not seek pastoral counseling in spiritual direction and vice versa. However, in some cases, a person may benefit from both provided they are consistent in their Christian approach as with the Pastoral Solutions Institute.

Work on the “Take Aways” Effective spiritual direction should always leave the directee with spiritual and practical “take aways.” This is to say that during the course of direction the directees discover something about their relationship with God or themselves and, through prayerful discussion with their director arrive at certain remedies.  These remedies are suggestions made by the director to aid in the cultivation of the directees’ interior and moral life. In all cases, this counsel simply represents suggestions made by the director to the directee to prayerfully and prudently apply to his or her life. In the Catholic tradition, the director may never bind the directee under spiritual obedience, only offer good counsel. These “take aways” are the directees’ homework and represent the basis of conversation for the next session.

For moral information on spiritual direction or pastoral counseling, visit the Pastoral Solutions institute at  https://www.catholiccounselors.com

Deacon Dominic Cerrato is the director of Pastoral Solutions Spiritual Direction Services