What is Depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities. It goes beyond typical mood fluctuations and can impact a person’s daily functioning, affecting their thoughts, emotions, and physical well-being. Symptoms of depression may include:

  1. Persistent sadness or a low mood.
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed.
  3. Changes in appetite or weight.
  4. Sleep disturbances, either insomnia or excessive sleep.
  5. Fatigue or loss of energy.
  6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
  7. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  8. Thoughts of death or suicide.

Depression can vary in severity, and its causes are often multifaceted, involving a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

It’s important to note that depression is a treatable condition, and various therapeutic approaches, medications, and support systems are available to help individuals manage and overcome it. If someone is experiencing symptoms of depression, seeking professional help from a mental health professional is crucial.

What are the best treatments for depression?

The best treatments for depression often involve a combination of therapeutic approaches tailored to an individual’s specific needs. It’s important for individuals experiencing depression to consult with a mental health professional to determine the most effective treatment plan. Here are some common treatments for depression:

  1. Counseling: Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT), is a key component in treating depression. It helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns, develop coping skills, and improve interpersonal relationships.
  2. Mindset Coaching: Mindset coaching is a type of coaching that focuses on helping individuals develop and cultivate a positive and growth-oriented mindset. The concept is rooted in the belief that one’s mindset significantly influences their thoughts, behaviors, and overall approach to life. Mindset coaching aims to identify and change limiting beliefs, promote self-awareness, and encourage a mindset that fosters personal and professional growth.
  3. Medication: Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), may be prescribed by a psychiatrist or healthcare provider to help regulate neurotransmitters in the brain.
  4. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): TMS is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. It is often used when other treatments haven’t been effective.
  5. Lifestyle Changes: Healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep, can contribute to overall well-being and may help alleviate symptoms of depression.
  6. Support Groups: Participating in support groups or group therapy can provide individuals with a sense of community and understanding. Sharing experiences with others who are going through similar challenges can be beneficial.
  7. Community Support:  Having a sense of community can be a cornerstone in fostering resilience and sustaining recovery efforts. Building and maintaining connections within a community can contribute significantly to an individual’s overall well-being and long-term recovery success.
  8. Mind-Body Techniques: Practices such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, and relaxation techniques can help individuals manage stress and improve their emotional well-being.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of treatments can vary from person to person. A personalized approach, often involving a combination of treatments, is typically the most effective way to address depression. Additionally, ongoing support and follow-up care are crucial to prevent relapse.

We would be honored to serve you in your time of need.  Schedule a session with a licensed therapist today! 

10 Holiday Stress Busters

As a young child, I remember experiencing the magic of the holiday season. Sure, there were disagreements and stressful situations that I watched my family wade through year after year, though I don’t remember those times as clearly as I do the happy moments. I remember great food, fun, and spending time with loved ones. (I also remember the year I received my first mountain bike and a set of hit stix.)

Things certainly do change as we get older, don’t they? Long lines, family drama, loneliness, a long list of expenses, and stress too often replace the memories of childhood magic.

What if you could get back some of that magic? Check out these 10 ways to take the stress out of the holidays.

Rose Skeeters

1. Budget for the Holidays.

Overspending during the holidays not only stresses you out while you’re doing it, but continues into the future when the credit card and bank statements arrive in January. Make a realistic budget early, carefully review it, and then stick to it!

2. Plan Holiday Activities.

Double-booking activities on the same day can result in frustrated family members and lost opportunities. Avoid this stress by planning and discussing with the family beforehand. Also, decide what’s important, prioritize, and say “no” to what you can’t handle.

3. Work in Some Alone Time.

Do not choreograph, plot, and plan out every hour of the holidays. Factor in some alone time for the sake of your mental health. Close your eyes, take several deep breaths, and meditate or just relax.

4. Be Open to Change.

Talk with your kids about your traditions- which ones they love and which you might evolve. This is especially important when family dynamics have changed. Don’t be too rigid. Use common sense and accept changes to the original plan.

5. Delegate.

To stay sane and reduce stress, delegate holiday tasks to friends and family members. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Delegate first, and then follow-up for extra peace of mind.

6. Prep Your Kids.

Factoring in kids’ limitations when you make plans will reduce stress on everyone. Not overestimating your kids’ patience and ability to focus will help you enjoy yourself more too. Holidays represent a change in a family’s normal schedule, and for some kids, that’s unsettling. Preparing them for these changes will help head off meltdowns.

7. Wrap & Ship Early.

Last-minute gifts can bust your budget and your sanity! Plan your shopping and avoid doing anything impulsively. Wrap everything as soon as it is purchased and ship gifts to loved ones far in advance.

8. Be Sure to Laugh.

Kids pick up their parents’ stress and tension. Have of sense of humor, enjoy your kids for who they are, and keep in mind that what you’ll all remember is likely to be the unexpected moment when everybody was relaxed, not the brilliantly choreographed events.

9. Volunteer.

Take time to volunteer at your church, homeless shelter, or community center with your family and friends. Model being a bucket filler this season.

10. Exercise Regularly.

Everyone does their best to trash their bodies during the holiday season. We eat way too much rich and fatty foods, and often drink too much. The best thing to do about the unavoidable overindulgence is to exercise regularly.

Following these 10 tips will help ease the stress of the holiday season so that you can reclaim the magic of the season this year. Download our FREE Infographic below. Looking for more support this season? Schedule an intake now.

 

Home for the Holidays

3 Key Steps to Connect with Family (especially during the holidays) 

In order to connect more deeply with family over the holidays, it’s important to figure out how to respect them as people in the world. After all, everyone is trying to do the best they can with what they have, right?

My Italian family from Philly set the standard for holiday traditions– lots of delicious food, great company, suffocating blankets of guilt, good family drama, and excessive, over-the-top gifting. We always had waaaayy too much of EVERYTHING. (Parents, if you think your children would somehow be emotionally scarred for having just a few meaningful gifts, think again. The more gifts we got, the less the intention of gifting mattered and the more we expected those gifts…)  Holidays were intense all around– intensely joyful and just plain old intense.

When we grew up, they became more intense than joyful, especially before having children. Unspoken rules about gifts and competition for the best gift given, arguing and belittling the “chef” of the holiday for having a menu that was “subpar”, showing up late and leaving early only after complaining the whole time, and my all-time favorite: instead of saying hello, our family loves to say: “Look who showed up. You never come see me.” That one always gets me scratching my head and wondering if I slept through their visits or phone calls to our house… 

Jokes aside, the holidays don’t have to be that way– even if no one else in your family will change, you can choose to make this holiday season into the best one yet by following these 3 expert steps on how to connect with family during the holiday season. 

STEP 1. MAKE A LIST OF WHAT EACH PERSON IN YOUR FAMILY IS CAPABLE OF.

The first thing that you need to do to start on the path of dealing with and respecting your family members is to figure out what each individual person in your family is actually capable of. Make a list for everyone individually. Furthermore, break down all of the behaviors that they get engage in–both good and bad.  Do they show up late? Leave early? Do they make judgmental or hurtful comments? Maybe they make the world’s best stuffed mushrooms or bring the best desserts? Write it down.

STEP 2. WRITE DOWN THE EXPECTATIONS YOU HAVE FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER.

Put the first list aside. Now, make a list of everything that you expect of each person in your family. What are all the things that you wish they would do and they haven’t? What are all the things that you expect from them? Maybe you feel like your expectations are already low? Do you wish the family member would be kind, show up on time, and still bring those delicious desserts? Write it all down. Remember that you will need to do each step for each individual family member.

STEP 3. COMPARE THE LISTS YOU MADE IN STEPS 1 & 2

Finally, put both list 2 and list 1 side by side. Do you notice any similarities or differences? What do you see?

Let’s say your lists looked like these:

Uncle Boomer’s Capabilties

  • always late
  • leaves early
  • funniest Uncle
  • makes rude comments at times
  • makes the best lasagna
  • loves the holidays
  • says no one ever visits him

My Expectations for Uncle Boomer

  • be on time
  • be nice
  • bring lasagna
  • connect with others
  • stop being passive aggressive

Did you notice that my expectations for Uncle Boomer exceed his capabilities in several areas? Uncle Boomer has been late to almost every function for as long as I can remember. Expecting him to be on time doesn’t make any sense. If your Uncle hasn’t been on time in years, why would he be on time this Thanksgiving? As a result of his choice, you can also choose to accept that Uncle Boomer will be late and that that is okay because it is his choice, not a reflection of his entire relationship with you.

It seems reasonable to expect family to be nice to each other, right? But what if your family members are insecure in some areas of their life and have a difficult time connecting genuinely to others? What if Uncle Boomer doesn’t perceive his comments to be rude and thinks they are funny? Does anyone smile when he says things? Put yourself in the person’s shoes. Do they see the world exactly as you do? Are you assuming that they do? Expecting someone that you claim to love to be someone that they are not is not fair. It will only create resentment and disrespect between both parties in the relationship. If you wish to be respected, it is a good idea to respect others too. This means putting yourself in their shoes and choosing to see the world from their point-of-view.

Every single person has valleys and dark times just like yours. Above all, respecting others for who they have become and loving them even when they can’t meet your expectations is the right thing to do.

Rose Skeeters

Not an Excuse for Rude Behavior…

This doesn’t mean letting a family member treat you poorly. It means not being surprised when Uncle Boomer makes a rude comment and hurts your feelings AND it means letting him know that what he said was mean. Tell the truth and set boundaries. Choose to take control of your own life experience this holiday season. In order to build better relationships and deeper connections with people, especially members of your family that you currently consider difficult or toxic, you must be willing to see the world from their perspective – to have empathy for them.

Following these tips will improve your experience dramatically this year, guaranteed. Need more help? Let’s schedule a time to chat.

 

Choose Joy.

Having Joy & Being Happy: What is the difference? 

Do you ever find yourself stuck in traffic and tired of the same old playlist? Podcasts are a great way to switch things up, especially if you have a long commute. Recently, my family and I traveled out to the Mid-West to visit family. On the way home, we listened to a podcast that talked about the difference between having joy and being happy. It was such a great discussion that I thought I would share it with you today. (The word “JOY” also reminds me of the holiday season and it is a snowy December day here in Pennsylvania.)

So what is the difference between happiness and choosing joy?

Being happy is a temporary state of being. Sure, it feels good to be happy, though happiness is not always something that we can choose– especially when life gets us down. Happiness, as a feeling, is also not based on something necessarily being good for us.

Joy, on the other hand, is at least grounded in the idea that something is good for someone else. We have joy when — even in our pain/suffering — we are acting toward someone else’s well-being. If you have ever selflessly given of yourself or that which you own– you are certainly familiar with this feeling.

Now think, if all of our efforts are focused on trying to be happy — I think that we may be missing the point of life. But if our purpose is to have joy in our lives then we have committed to one another in a way that seeks something better than simple self-satisfaction.

So let me ask you this: What are you doing in the world that is causing you joy?

If you can’t answer that question, then make it your goal for the rest of the month of December to choose joy.

But, how?

Try putting yourself out there and doing something good for someone else (and also try to be humble about it- do it for the other person, not for others to see you doing something selfless and give you likes and attention) — and feel what happens.

Write the following quote down on that dry erase board on the fridge, on a sticky note above your coffee pot, on your palm, make it the background on your smart phone or laptop— put it somewhere. Read it every morning. In the spirit of the holiday season, choose joy by finding ways to be happy even when things don’t go your way.

In Strength,

Rose

Choosing joy means: Finding ways to be happy even when things don’t go your way.

 

Do I have Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety makes it difficult for people to engage in everyday activities such as just going to work or heading to Starbucks to have a coffee with friends. These activities can be incredibly intense for someone with social anxiety. The fear of having a panic attack in public or being humiliated or embarrassed is so strong that many people choose to avoid social situations entirely. If you have a friend with anxiety and they are inconsistent with plans or cancel often, try not to internalize this behavior. Anxiety causes a fight, flight, or freeze response, which is biological in nature. Someone with anxiety needs help to overcome their intense fear before they can be more consistent in social situations. 

Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) is the third largest psychological problem in the United States today.  Millions of people quietly endure this pain every day, believing there is no hope for them getting better.

What is life with Social Anxiety like?

  • “I couldn’t go on dates or to parties. For a while, I couldn’t even go to class. My sophomore year of college I had to come home for a semester.”
  • “My fear would happen in any social situation. I would be anxious before I even left the house, and it would escalate as I got closer to class, a party, or whatever. I would feel sick to my stomach–it almost felt like I had the flu. My heart would pound, my palms would get sweaty, and I would get this feeling of being removed from myself and from everybody else.
  • “When I would walk into a room full of people, I’d turn red and it would feel like everybody’s eyes were on me. I was too embarrassed to stand off in a corner by myself, but I couldn’t think of anything to say to anybody. I felt so clumsy, I couldn’t wait to get out.” 

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How to Overcome Food Addiction: 5 Expert Tips

I grew up loving food. I was well-fed by my Italian mother. She cooked delicious meals for us all of the time. We would have a protein, a starch, a vegetable, and a dessert. My favorite meal growing up was chicken cutlets, Velveeta Shells & Cheese, spinach, bread with butter, and brownies or anything cake-like for dessert. I wasn’t a particularly active kid, so that was a lot of food for a young couch potato. I quickly became overweight and obsessed with food. When my parents would leave the house, I would jump on the opportunity to grab a glazed donut from the dining room table or some chips and cookies from the cabinet. I loved icing! I would eat entire jars of icing and knew enough to hide the evidence. I was around 9 or 10 years old when I became addicted to food. 

The doctors would tell my parents that my BMI was too high and they would try to make healthier food choices, though I traded my healthy snacks for Tastykakes and oreos at the school lunch table. By the time I was in college, I was big and hungry. I wanted to lose weight and joined one of those medically supervised weight loss programs where you eat pre-packaged “food” and drink “shakes”. I lost a lot of weight on this program–over 60 pounds. I loved being thin so much that I took not eating to the other extreme. It wasn’t long before I was labeled disordered and sent to nutritionists and therapists to cure me of my food addiction. 

Throughout my life until after the birth of my now 10 year old son, I struggled with all that is food and internalized this struggle as my fault. Having been told I had a disorder and an addiction that will always be a part of my life by “experts” in the field of eating disorders was a detriment to my health and well being. The truth behind my food addiction and my ability to overcome this addiction was not found in a label or a medication or a even a therapist. The truth was found in my ability to take matters into my own hands. 

I am going to share my 5 expert tips with you today that will help you overcome your food addiction. 

“I couldn’t cope with my feelings,” she said, “so I ate them.”

Trevor Butterworth, in a story by Christine Winter on a woman who had joined Overeaters Anonymous, The Chicago Tribune, September 1, 1975

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5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship Right Now

I’m sure you have heard people say that good relationships require a lot of hard work. But what does that actually mean? What kind of hard work needs to get done to improve your relationship? Isn’t it enough to commit to your partner day in and day out? The short answer to that is no. In order to have a healthy relationship, we need to be good partners– which means more than just a commitment and a shared life together. Check out these 5 ways to improve your relationship right now.

1. Tell the Truth.

There’s nothing wrong with a little white lie– is there? Do you tell your partner that you love her cooking, even when it takes like burnt rubber? How about all of the times where you said “yes” when your partner asked if you liked their favorite ugly sweater or “no” if they looked fat in something when they didn’t look their best? Do you pretend to listen and wait to speak? Do you tell your partner only what they “need to know”?

I have had clients tell me that they lie to their partner to protect them. I had a guy tell me that he went to the bar once a month for lunch with his work buddies, though couldn’t tell his wife because that would make her jealous. He claimed to be an honest guy, though lied monthly about hanging out with his friends. My question to him (and you) is this: if you have nothing to hide, why would you lie and how is lying protecting your partner if there is no real motivation to lie?

So if you want to improve your relationship, stop lying. No lie big or small has ever turned out to be a good thing. If you are scared of your partner’s reaction when you tell the truth, you may want to have a heart-to-heart with that partner and seek relationship coaching. Lies build resentment and distrust.

Practice transparency.

Be transparent. If your partner can clearly see your intentions, and can trust your word, you will greatly improve your relationship. Broken promises, little white lies, indirect communication, and speaking in hyperboles tears down the relationship and makes for a rocky path.

Remember this: It may be difficult to be transparent after many years, though it is equally if not more difficult to maintain a web of lies, secrecy, and resentment. Be someone your partner can rely on and stop lying.

2. Manage Expectations.

People change and grow over time. If you are waiting around for your partner to become the person they were when you first started dating, you will be waiting forever. It is an impossible task to ask someone to stay the same over the course of a relationship. Sameness may be comfortable to you, but it is unrealistic to maintain.

Make a list.

What expectations do you have for your partner? What do you expect out of your wife or husband, boyfriend or girlfriend? Make a list.

Do you expect your husband to take out the trash and keep your gas tank full? Does he know this? How about your wife? Should she keep the house at a certain level of clean or should she cook everyday if she is a stay-at-home mom?

After you list our your expectations, ask yourself this for every item on your list: Does my partner know that I expect that of them? and then… Is my partner capable of meeting that expectation?

If you expect your wife to clean and cook every day and to make sure your favorite pair of pants is clean– do you ask this of her? Does she have time in her day to meet those expectations? If you have children and your wife is a stay-at-home mom and not getting all of the chores completed that you expect her to complete– have you talked with her? If your husband never takes out the trash or puts his dirty laundry next to the laundry basket– have you talked with him?

Remember this: Expecting someone to do exactly what you want them to do without ever taking into consideration their capabilities and communicating with them is tyrannical. Be a good partner by managing your expectations and communicating directly with your partner.

3. Choose Leadership over Tyranny.

Do you use sarcasm, shame, yelling, and indirect communication to get your needs met? Are you a good leader to your partner when they need guidance or do you resort to tyranny?

A good leader is trustworthy, determined, influential, empathetic, passionate, and connected. A leader understands and sets boundaries, is responsible, and is humble. A leader takes responsibility for their actions and is able to make choices that make the most sense for the good of the group, not the individual.

A tyrant is also influential, but relentless, critical, and demanding as well. A tyrant is often apathetic towards others and displays arrogance. Tyrants are not concerned with the good of the group, rather they are concerned with what is best for themselves and have a selfish worldview.

I’m not a tyrant!

Are you thinking that there is no way that you could possibly be a tyrant? Think again. If you have low self-esteem, anxiety, and a need for things to be perfect, you may very well engage in tyrannical behavior– whether you are male or female.

Did you ever ask the question, “You’re going to take the trash out, right?” (or do the dishes, mow the lawn, do the laundry, etc.) The minute this question is asked, you set the person on the receiving end up to either fall in line with what you want or face some kind of consequence. Instead of asking, “Will you please take out the trash?” You have entered a situation where your goal (the trash going out and your partner doing it) means more to you than your partner. This is tyrannical.

How about another example? Let’s say you like your house to be clean, so you have an expectation that your partner clean the home regularly since they spend more time at home. When the home isn’t clean and you’ve had a decent day, it doesn’t really bother you, so you don’t say anything at all to your partner. On a bad day, though, it drives you nuts that the house isn’t clean so you scream, yell, and threaten your partner when you get home. Maybe you call them lazy or other names and make them feel bad for not meeting your expectations. That is not good leadership.

Being a good leader is a difficult skill. It takes practice, commitment, dedication, and willingness to fail– at first. It may take time for you to develop and enhance your leadership skills, though this time spent will be invaluable to the growth of your relationship. Need help? Schedule a session today.

Remember this: The goal of a tyrant is always more important than you and your goal. If your goals trump everything in front of you, including your partner, their goals, and the goals of your family, time to seek guidance to transform tyranny into leadership.

4. Communicate Directly & Listen to Understand.

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.

Proverbs 18:2

What is your communication style? Are you direct and to the point or do you use indirect communication to express yourself? Do you listen until it’s your turn to talk or do you listen to understand?

Indirect communication is when a person chooses to act out what they really mean instead of saying it directly. They can use voice tone, gestures, or facial expressions. They do this to avoid being directly rejected, avoid arguments, be in the “safe” zone, and to ultimately save face. This cycle has to end as it can and will end a relationship.

Jay Skeeters

Communication breaks down when what we hear are our own assumptions and insecurities projected onto the words of someone else. Direct communication and active listening will repair these breakdowns in communication. Listen to your partner by taking out any assumptions you may have when they are talking so that you can develop empathy for them and see the world from their perspective.

Jay and I talk a lot about communication in our work because it is a key component to having healthy, connected relationships. It is important to change from an indirect to a direct style of communication. Saying exactly what you think and feel makes listening and giving feedback much easier. This opens up the communication lines to a sharing of ideas, thoughts, and feelings. If you use indirect communication and aren’t sure what else you can do to get your needs met, schedule with us today. We can guide you on how to communicate better so that you will feel heard and respected.

Remember this: Listening communicates love, compassion, and empathy to your partner. Listening also helps you understand each other, connect and communicate effectively.

5. Be Supportive.

Would you take a bullet for your partner?

Okay, that’s intense– or is it? Throughout this post, I have referred to people in a relationship as partners. Why? Because if your husband or wife/ boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t have your back then your relationship will feel like its failing because you won’t feel supported or safe.

Have Your Partner’s Back.

A partner would have your back always. They would be supportive of you even if your choices didn’t align with their preferences. Read that again: They would be supportive of you even if your choices didn’t align with their preferences.

If you want to improve your relationship- practice having your partner’s back. Instead of getting annoyed and angry, help them out. Do they forget important dates? Get a calendar to help them remember. Text them reminders the day before and the day of an event.

Do they love NASCAR, football, soccer, ballet, theater, basketball, or disc golf? (insert other activity that does not interest you in the slightest) Make sure that they have snacks on race, show, or game day. Give them space to watch without pressure of doing something you want or need to do. Respect their hobbies and interests just as you would want your hobbies and interests to be respected. Go with them to places you don’t want to go because you love them and respect them as people in the world so their happiness means more than your temporary discomfort.

Do they hate being sick? Get them some vitamin C packs, cough drops, and plan to take care of dinner, dishes, and the nightly routine so they can rest. Do they have a big meeting tomorrow? Make sure their favorite pants are clean and ready to go and ask if there is anything else you can do to help them. An early night? Taking over with the kids? Taking the dog out?

Remember this: Having your partner’s back is key to developing trust and emotional safety in a relationship. If the things I listed above seem too over-the-top and inconvenient for you, it’s time to reevaluate things. Maybe you like the idea of a relationship, though not the work that goes into building a great one. And that’s okay. Telling yourself the truth will go a long way.


Rose Skeeters, MA, LPC, PN2 Thrive:Mind/Body, LLC TMB Online Counseling

Rose Skeeters, MA, LPC, PN2

Rose Skeeters is the CVO of Thrive: Mind/Body, LLC, an innovative mindset coaching & online counseling practice aimed at empowering motivated individuals to master every area of their life. She specializes in family & relationship counseling–helping couples, parents, & families get and stay on the same page. Rose is also the host of From Borderline to Beautiful, a podcast aimed at helping individuals with BPD, CPTSD, and EUPD find hope and help in their recovery journeys. Are you interested in working with Rose? Schedule a consult with her here or contact her today at Rose@thriveonlinecounseling.com.

Why You May Need to Rethink Your Moral Compass Now

“I believe that in healthy humans there is an inner compass that guides right from wrong. It may get modified through various lenses of philosophy, religion, and culture, but I think seeking peace and integrity and not causing harm are pretty universal. Unfortunately, it is also possible to get estranged from that compass, so it is good to stay in balance and in touch with it as much as we can.”

Unknown

Feelings or Morals?

As a therapist and mindset coach, I speak with many people that feel lost and stuck in life. They often have a difficult time making choices and knowing what the right thing to do is. I can relate to this as I have had my own fair share of difficulty determining whether or not my moral compass should be ruled by my in-the-moment emotions or whether it should be strong and steadfast.

The answer seems pretty simple- our choices should be guided by an unwavering moral compass, not by emotions. The reality is that feelings, no matter how strong, cloud the direction we should take.

Let’s say that you prefer to do what you want to do. “I’ll do what I feel like doing.”  We have a right to do whatever we want to do, when we want to do it, right? Feel your feelings and just go with it.

But isn’t that mindset like playing with fire? If we walk around doing only what we feel like doing, what will we accomplish?

Hatred, laziness, greed, jealously, insecurity, pride, selfishness, bitterness, the desire to fit in… these are all feelings that can lead to broken relationships, theft, drug abuse, fraud, violence, murder, mental illness, and chaos.

Living in a world that only honors people’s feelings and neglects the viewpoint of right vs. wrong doesn’t sit well with me. This is not to say that feelings are invalid and to be dismissed. Feelings can be intense and need to be spoken about and validated in order for them to be let go successfully. Feelings can be felt without being acted upon.

What if I just feel like taking something that doesn’t belong to me? Or if I say hateful things to someone because they are different than me? Maybe I feel angry so I hit the person closest to me or I lie whenever it suits me?

Aren’t those things wrong morally?

“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” 

Leo Tolstoy, A Confession

Core Values

Challenge: Feel your feelings and make the right choice based on your core values.

Let’s take a look at the core value of commitment. If we are to commit to something, it means that we dedicate ourselves to that person or thing. If we have committed ourselves to a new job or task, we get up everyday and do the best we can during the work day. It doesn’t matter if we are frustrated, tired, sad, or even happy- we are still going to head to work. Commitment is independent of feelings.

Core values like commitment are all independent of feelings.  Integrity is another great example of this. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching. How many times have you thought “I don’t feel like doing this?” and you do it anyway because you know it’s the right thing to do? The thought “I don’t feel like doing this” is a feeling. If you went with that feeling every time you were tired and not feeling up to the task, there would be dishes in the sink, laundry and trash everywhere, and extra pounds on your waistline. Maybe you don’t even have a job because you don’t feel like it! Integrity, like commitment, is independent of feelings. If you have integrity, you can feel like you don’t want to do something, but you do it anyway because it is the right thing to do.

Fine Tuning Your Moral Compass

A moral compass includes our principles, values, and beliefs. In typical development, our early childhood caregivers teach us these principles, values, and beliefs. If you have experienced a break in attachment or early childhood trauma or neglect, you may have to start from scratch in developing your own moral compass.

Where do I start?

A solid moral compass includes core values that will eventually govern your behaviors. In order to begin the process of developing a moral compass, you will need to do some research to determine which core values you want to include in your compass. Before I list out some core values, let’s define the word values. If you value something, you hold it in high regard, pursue it, and even love it.

Here is a list of some core values:

  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Loyalty
  • Honor
  • Courage
  • Commitment
  • Selfless Service
  • Respect
  • Self-Discipline
  • Kindness
  • Forgiveness
  • Transparency
  • Trust
  • Joy
  • Humility

Steps to Rethink Your Moral Compass

These are 15 core values, though there are hundreds of them! Follow these steps to start living by your own moral compass:

  1. Do your best to find the values that resonate with you.
  2.  Rank them in order of importance.
  3. Write them down.
  4. Define them.
  5. Hang the values and the definitions everywhere you can see them- fridge, mirrors, car, desk, dresser.
  6. Make all of your choices align with these values.
  7. Practice. Practice. Practice. It will take time to develop the ability to match your choices and actions with your moral compass. Like anything new, it will require patience and practice.

Still stumped or looking for an example? Below is a list of 10 of my core values and their definitions. With a solid moral compass, I can make my choices align with those core values, even when it doesn’t feel good. I know what I stand for and knowing what I stand for helps me trust in myself and my choices.

My Core Values

  1. Integrity – doing the right thing even when no one is looking
  2. Honesty- speak the truth and act truthfully
  3. Loyalty- faithful and devoted to loved ones
  4. Courage- Being afraid of something and doing it anyway
  5. Self-Discipline- the ability to do what I think is right despite temptations to abandon my pursuit
  6. Forgiveness- deciding that someone who has wronged me doesn’t have to pay or be punished
  7. Joy- choosing to be happy even when things don’t go my way
  8. Selfless Service- being helpful and kind to others as well as serving others without expecting a reward or praise
  9. Humility- putting others first by giving up what you think you deserve
  10. Kindness- being friendly, generous, respectful and considerate of others

Recommended Reading

I started thinking about moral compass and values after reading Mark Divine’s book, Unbeatable Mind. I highly recommend it as a resource to help develop your moral compasss.

Side note: We love Amazon and participate in the Amazon Affiliate programs. If you are thinking about purchasing these books through the links above, we do get some credit. Thank you for understanding.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health symptoms that are concerning or that are getting progressively worse, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. Thrive is a proud provider of telehealth (tele-therapy). We offer HIPAA compliant video, phone, and text sessions for individuals, adults, and families struggling with mental health. Call 844-984-7483 or request a free, confidential screening online. If you would like help with developing your moral compass, contact me today at rose@thriveonlinecounseling.com


Rose Skeeters, MA, LPC, PN2 Thrive:Mind/Body, LLC TMB Online Counseling

Rose Skeeters, MA, LPC, PN2

Rose Skeeters is the CVO of Thrive: Mind/Body, LLC, an innovative mindset coaching & online counseling practice aimed at empowering motivated individuals to master every area of their life. She specializes in family & relationship counseling–helping couples, parents, & families get and stay on the same page. Rose is also the host of From Borderline to Beautiful, a podcast aimed at helping individuals with BPD, CPTSD, and EUPD find hope and help in their recovery journeys. Are you interested in working with Rose? Schedule a consult with her here or contact her today at Rose@thriveonlinecounseling.com.