April 16, 2018

I’m Giving A Little Love From My Heart

Posted in Compassion tagged , , , , , , at 12:49 pm by kellyfdennis

pexels-photo-257360.jpegSo, are you having a bad day? Or maybe a mediocre one? Did you and your daughter have a disagreement before she left for school? The car wouldn’t start; when you finally got to work your supervisor said “we need to talk” and the talk wasn’t great. You couldn’t find your favorite pen, the dog peed on your best shoes… UGH! I hate bad days.

For all the bad, I want you to know that you are deserving of good. You are capable, strong, tenacious, fearless, and bold. You know what bad days feel like and you conquer them anyway and go on to face the next day. Do you sometimes feel like giving up? Sure, sometimes the tasks seem insurmountable.

I want you to know that even with all that stuff, you are lovable, lovely, worthy of respect and good caring from those you love. You are smart, kind, caring, and courageous. Even when you’re in your jammies and your hair’s a mess and you haven’t brushed your teeth, you are still an awesome person, waiting to give and receive love and affection.

You, my love, are my hero; courageously encountering your day even though you may struggle with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, ADHD, have children on the spectrum, are recovering from trauma and abuse.

Now, go and do what you need to do for yourself, to take care of yourself, to love and nurture yourself. Just like you do for everyone else. Shut off the TV, turn off your phone, say “no” to watching the neighbors kids, and just do something lovely for yourself, right here, right now. I want you to take care of yourself. You deserve it.


March 27, 2018

Tired of Anxiety?

Posted in Well-being tagged , , , at 8:45 am by kellyfdennis

anxiety-fear-puzzle-means-anxious-and-afraid-100236308We live in stressful times. Issues that bring anxiety into our lives and challenge us to cope constantly bombard us. Mark your calendar and join Kelly F. Dennis MS LPC and Millersville Community Church for a discussion of the various types of anxiety and how to deal with them. Kelly is a Licensed Professional Counselor with an office in Millersville. She has experience in helping individuals and families work through various mental health issues including, eating disorders, anxiety, and depression.

Kelly, uses an approach that combines genetic, cognitive, social, spiritual, and cultural factors in assessing behavior. Participants will learn about various forms of anxiety, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. During our time together, we’ll learn how to moderate the effects of these conditions through learning to think about our thinking, guided meditation, loving kindness, and breathing.

Relief from anxiety begins with understanding its causes and resulting behaviors. Equip yourself to cope with an increasingly stress-filled world. Our workshop will convene at Grace Campus on Saturday, May 5 at 9 am. Gather for a light breakfast in the Family Life Center before making your way to the Sanctuary for Kelly’s presentation. Admission is free, but we are asking that you register in advance by contacting Bruce Heydt at bruceheydt@gracemillersville.org, or by calling 717-872-4571.

February 24, 2018

Steps to cope with mental illness stigma

Posted in Well-being tagged , , , , at 5:25 pm by kellyfdennis

Discover a New Day logo smallFrom Mayo Clinic:

Here are some ways you can deal with stigma:

  • Get treatment.You may be reluctant to admit you need treatment. Don’t let the fear of being labeled with a mental illness prevent you from seeking help. Treatment can provide relief by identifying what’s wrong and reducing symptoms that interfere with your work and personal life.
  • Don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame.Stigma doesn’t just come from others. You may mistakenly believe that your condition is a sign of personal weakness or that you should be able to control it without help. Seeking counseling, educating yourself about your condition and connecting with others who have mental illness can help you gain self-esteem and overcome destructive self-judgment.
  • Don’t isolate yourself.If you have a mental illness, you may be reluctant to tell anyone about it. Your family, friends, clergy or members of your community can offer you support if they know about your mental illness. Reach out to people you trust for the compassion, support and understanding you need.
  • Don’t equate yourself with your illness.You are not an illness. So instead of saying “I’m bipolar,” say “I have bipolar disorder.” Instead of calling yourself “a schizophrenic,” say “I have schizophrenia.”
  • Join a support group.Some local and national groups, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), offer local programs and internet resources that help reduce stigma by educating people who have mental illness, their families and the general public. Some state and federal agencies and programs, such as those that focus on vocational rehabilitation and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), offer support for people with mental illness.
  • Get help at school.If you or your child has a mental illness that affects learning, find out what plans and programs might help. Discrimination against students because of a mental illness is against the law, and educators at primary, secondary and college levels are required to accommodate students as best they can. Talk to teachers, professors or administrators about the best approach and resources. If a teacher doesn’t know about a student’s disability, it can lead to discrimination, barriers to learning and poor grades.
  • Speak out against stigma.Consider expressing your opinions at events, in letters to the editor or on the internet. It can help instill courage in others facing similar challenges and educate the public about mental illness.

Others’ judgments almost always stem from a lack of understanding rather than information based on facts. Learning to accept your condition and recognize what you need to do to treat it, seeking support, and helping educate others can make a big difference.

February 20, 2018

How do you change your relationship with the inner critic?

Posted in identity, Mindfulness tagged , , , , , at 9:35 am by kellyfdennis

You requested more info on the inner critic and inner wisdom. Here’s a portion of a great post about Tara Mohr’s book, Playing Big. Good info!

1) Label it.

Tara Mohr, Author of Playing Big suggests calling out the inner critic when you hear its negativity and doubts. As you become aware of this inner voice, acknowledge it and label it. Say to yourself, “Oh, I’m hearing my inner critic right now.”

2) Separate yourself from the inner critic.

Whatever tantrums or chatter your inner critic is spewing, remind yourself that you and the inner critic are not the same. Separate yourself from it.

3) Create a character that represents your inner critic.

For many of us, the inner critic is a voice we have heard our whole lives – our mother or teacher or another disciplinarian. It’s the voice of the person who has put us down and doubted us.

Mohr suggests taking part in a playful but effective exercise in which you create a persona for your inner critic. “When you create a character with a name and visual image, you help yourself remember that the critic is not the core of you, it’s one voice, with its own personality and pathology.”

Draw, sketch and describe this inner critic. Turn it into a fictional person, cartoon or caricature of someone you know. Describe its voice, personality and typical phrases and patterns. Name the character and capture its voice in your mind.

Turn it into something funny because, as Mohr reminds us, this character usually says something ridiculous! It’s easier to notice your inner critic if it’s Peggy Bundy, Madea, Carmela Soprano or Sophia Petrillo. You’ll not only spot your critic quicker but get a good laugh at its expense as well.

4) What is your inner critic protecting you from?

Once you can identify your inner critic’s voice and picture your critic in your mind, you’ll be better able to communicate with it.
When your critic fills you with negativity, determine what exactly it’s protecting you from.

Ask your inner critic what it’s most afraid of at the moment. What is the danger it sees?

“Once you are in touch with the root of the critic’s intentions, respond with compassion towards the critic’s misguided attempt to keep you safe – usually from attack, embarrassment, isolation or failure.”

A great line you can use to acknowledge your inner critic but also inform it that you’re okay is to respond with, “Thanks so much for your input, but I’ve got this one covered.”

5) Turn down the volume.

Once you know what your inner critic’s voice sounds like, you’ll be more aware of the times when you hear it. If the voice is stronger and louder than usual, practice lowering it as though it comes with a volume dial.

Turn down the volume on your inner voice like you would with your cell phone or your television.

You’ll still hear the inner critic, but you can determine at which volume you’ll do so. Also, by imagining that your inner voice has volume control, you can differentiate between it and yourself.

Treat your inner voice with love, compassion and understanding.

You can’t win arguments with your inner critic and you can’t be angry with it either. Both strategies will simply fuel its fire.

The inner critic, as Mohr describes it, is a scared and fearful part of ourselves. It doesn’t respond well to anger, arguments or grandiosity.

Use the previous techniques in a loving and kind way. Treat your inner voice like you would an upset or unreasonable child.

Acknowledge it, comfort it, reduce its volume and thank it for guiding you. However, feel free to tell it that you’re in control of the situation.

Be aware that, at the end of the day, although its actions and words are misguided, your inner critic is only trying to protect you.

Your wise inner guide.

Not only can you compassionately deal with your inner voice, you can discover a more empowering, wise voice within yourself.

Mohr explains a concept she learned in her coach training school. This concept has students visualizing themselves in 20 years’ time. The students meet their future selves – the people they’ll be 20 years from today.

In the visualization, converse with your “future self,” asking it questions like, “What do I need to know to get from where I am today to where you are?” and “What has been most important about the past 20 years?”

When Mohr used this “future self” tool with her coaching clients, she found that people saw themselves as their best, most loving and wisest selves. When women reflected on their future selves, they always found the answers they were looking for.

“I began to call it the inner mentor because I found this voice functioned for women as a source of guidance, a voice women could draw on to develop a vision for their lives and careers, to make difficult decisions, to chart their paths,” Mohr says.

By giving women a tool that helped them determine how their future selves would approach a situation, Mohr ensured that the women she worked with would become confident and have a clear idea of what to say and do.

“Or a woman would come in feeling stuck about how to pursue her dream career, and by imagining what her future self would do, could immediately see a path forward that felt just right to her but that she hadn’t thought of before.”

Each of us, Mohr concludes, has this inner mentor.

Within yourself, you have the answers. You have the solutions and the wisdom you need to deal with the situations you’re confronting in your life.

You, too, can conduct Playing Big’s guided visualization and access this voice of perfect wisdom.

As Mohr says, simply asking, “What would my older self do?” won’t get you there. You must complete the visualization to access your wise inner voice.

Don’t let your inner critic hold you hostage. Fully embrace the voice of wisdom – your inner mentor.

This is just the beginning of what’s possible for you in terms of achieving a bigger life. The other eight chapters of Playing Big help you navigate fear, release your attachment to praise and criticism and help you recognize and respect your calling.

This article from Vishnu’s Virtues.

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

February 12, 2018

Inner Wisdom

Posted in Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , , , at 4:38 pm by kellyfdennis

pink clouds and bare treesMost of us are very familiar with the inner critic voice, aka the nasty girl or boy who lives inside our heads. That voice is usually pretty loud, wants us to behave in ways that make us look like we’ve got it all together, can handle it all, berates us when we mess up. This voice, however, can cause more problems for us than we realize: stress, anxiety, depression, distancing ourselves from others, not living the authentic life we were meant to live.

In my last blog post, I talked about the idea of a wise inner self, intuition, etc. In this post I want to suggest some strategies to begin to access that part of ourselves. First of all, inner wisdom is not verbal. So, anytime you are hearing the nasty girl or boy’s voice, that has nothing to do with inner wisdom. Next, inner wisdom creates a sense of calm, or contentedness. The feeling that this is “right”, “meant to be”. So if you’re feeling fearful or anxious, inner wisdom is not present. Inner wisdom does not rise as a reaction to fear or worry.

Things I have found helpful to connect with that intuitive part of myself:

Journal: Write down, in a stream of consciousness sort of way, your fears, anxieties, worries, and your dreams, desires, and visions for the future. Don’t let the inner critic’s loud voice deter you, don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or if your writing even makes sense. Just write and write and write until you believe there is nothing more to write. Then step away for a time, come back and notice the themes surrounding fear and worry. Then notice the themes surrounding dreams and visions. I noticed that fear and worry were getting in the way of my dreams and visions.

Engage: Talk and interact with people who are inspirational, who have big dreams of their own, who take healthy risks toward their visions. Engage in activities that turn down the volume on the inner critic and allow space for the mind to quiet, such as yoga, meditation, and prayer.

Pay attention to your senses: Get in touch with what your senses tell you about your world. Increase your attention to the smells, physical sensations, sounds, sights, and tastes around you. Your intuitive self is most connected with your sensory experience.

This takes time, it is a lifelong practice to learn to quiet the inner critic so we can hear that intuitive whisper. When we can access that intuition, we can begin to start making decisions in a calmer fashion, we can learn to “be” with ourselves so that we can be present with others in more authentic ways, and the stressors of daily life may seem less daunting.

In an upcoming YouTube video, I’ll take you through an Inner Wisdom Meditation that can help you begin to access this part of yourself.

Be well and Have a Wonderful Day!


February 9, 2018

Wisdom and the Inner Critic

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, identity tagged , , , , , at 4:09 pm by kellyfdennis

dune fenceThe negative inner critic is a result of your early childhood experiences.  We all receive self-esteem “messages” from parents, siblings, extended family, other caregivers, teachers, coaches, and peers.  The negative messages individually are mostly harmless, but when our subconscious strings thousands of them together, they can shape who we believe ourselves to be. Trauma also fuels the nasty girl. Many of us were affected by sexual, physical, verbal abuse which cause feelings of fear and fear makes whatever we believe and learn much more powerful.  Trauma in childhood many create a belief system where we may think we are to blame for just about anything that went wrong. Trauma and negative self-esteem make it hard to us to identify our needs and figure out how to get them met.

This engages our “reasoning mind” and sends us on a problem-solving, evaluating, and decision-making mission.  As human beings we evaluate and make judgments about things in our lives and surroundings.  Evaluating and judging our surroundings helps us to determine our likes and dislikes. The reasoning part of our mind is trying to make sense of the world. This process helps us to decide what to include and not to include in our lives.

That Nasty Girl criticizes and insults you to so you’ll live by the rules you internalized in your growing up years; she tells you to judge and compare yourself to others; she pushes you to be perfect so no one will reject because your “flawed”; she tells you you’re stupid for even trying so you won’t even bother trying and therefore don’t have to worry about messing up.  She’s trying to “help” us to get our needs met while minimizing pain; the only problem is that even if it does work once in a while, the “feel better” time is very short-lived.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s best to acknowledge her, thank her for trying to be helpful and then distract or move on to something else. But what happens when the Nasty Girl is actually getting in the way of you being able to be your authentic self and live a fulfilling life? Maybe the messages she’s sending you are preventing you from applying for that dream job, taking healthy risks and reaching out to others in order to know and be known. When we believe her messages, it can certainly stop us in our tracks. We can get stagnant and stuck, spinning our wheels, not being able to move forward because she tells us we just have to accept where we are as the good for nothing people we are.

Inner Wisdom

I think there’s another way. Throughout our existence as human beings, people have talked about, drawn about, written about another side of us. A “wise inner knowing”, “our intuitive selves”, “our spiritual guide”, “insightfulness”. Whatever you want to call it, we all have it. Our reasoning minds shut off this inner wisdom, because inner wisdom isn’t about problem solving, evaluating, and analyzing. Often our inner wisdom is a whisper; a murmur that’s especially hard to hear over your harsh inner critic.

In the next post, I’ll share some ideas about how to access this wise part of yourself. Until then check out my most recent mindfulness meditation video. Meditation helps to slow down the mind and allow us to disengage from “reasoning  mind”, an essential skill for being able to access the “wise inner knowing.”

Until next time, Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!




February 7, 2018

Inner Critic

Posted in Mindfulness, Self Image tagged , , , , , at 4:49 pm by kellyfdennis

Kellysmile1The harsh internal critic was called the “pathological critic” by psychologist Eugene Sagan to describe the negative inner voice that we all possess.  I call her the “nasty girl that lives inside my head”.  Gender is a moot point, though, the pathological critic can take on either gender.  Therefore, your harsh internal voice may be a “nasty guy” if you are male. I’ll use female pronouns, but these principles apply to any “nasty” voice regardless of gender.

The thing about this nasty girl is that she thinks she’s being helpful. She seems to assume that if she beats me up enough, I will change my ways! That doesn’t usually happen, though. I tend to just feel crappy when she is saying nasty things to me. I have found it very  helpful to recognize when she’s “talking” and acknowledge her existence and what she’s “saying” by telling her, “Thank you, I hear that you think I’ll mess up that thing I’m working on, if I don’t try harder; but really, I’ve got this, thanks anyway.” Then I move on and shift my thinking. I  might have to do this several times in one hour depending on the situation!

Recognizing the difference between your own wise “voice” and the irrational nasty “voice” can be a little dificult at first. That “voice” has probably been in existence in your mind for a long time. Mindfulness can be very helpful in beginning to separate out what is the “wise” person “voice” and what is the “nasty” person “voice.” I have recently put up two videos on my You Tube channel that begin to teach the basics of mindfulness mediation. While they are not targeting the nasty and wise voices specifically, they do help you to get in touch with what’s happening in your mind and body and take you out of autpilot.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel to get access to all the content from past uploads as well as future uploads which will include a “Wise Voice” meditation.

Be Well and Have A Wonderful Day!

February 1, 2018

Feeling Empowered

Posted in relationships tagged , , , at 10:47 am by kellyfdennis

Discover a New Day logo smallPower exists in all relationships. When I say this in counseling, most clients have an immediate negative reaction because these words  have had such a detrimental impact for most of the people with whom I work. However, power and control are important and, while they can be used in negative, destructive ways, they can also signal a healthy relationship when they are in balance.

Having power means we have choices and the ability to influence the environment around us as well as other people. We can choose to use this power in a positive, helpful way or a negative, destructive way. To have power is to feel empowered and when we feel that way we can regulate our emotions more effectively; we believe that we matter and are important in our relationships and the world around us. We have a sense of mastery over our lives, rather than being at the mercy of others and circumstances. Instead of reacting, we can respond because we believe in ourselves and trust our internal instincts.

On the other hand, many people feel powerless and the victim of circumstances or other’s choices. Individuals who have grown up in an abusive environment have experienced power used in a very destructive manner. They may wind up believing they would push people away if they expressed their opinions or ideas, or in some cases that their opinions and ideas don’t even matter. They may feel afraid that conflict may arise. They defer to others wants and needs sometimes in order to “keep the peace” or they believe another person will love them more if they succumb to that person’s desires.  However, this chronic feeling of powerlessness can lead to depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and/or anxiety.

In reality, love and power can and do exist together in a harmonious fashion in healthy relationships. When we claim our power in a relationship we live consciously, in the moment, taking responsibility for our emotions and actions; we express our needs and wants in healthy, satisfying ways. We set boundaries, we say “no” and “yes” because that’s what we really mean, not because that’s what the other person wants to hear.

When there is a proper balance of power, both parties feel interdependent with one another. Both people are autonomous, able to survive on their own, but chose to enjoy time and shared activities with each other. They rely on each other and “have each other’s backs”. They share feelings, needs, opinions, and thoughts. There is a level of trust that permits safety and the idea that it’s OK to be your authentic self in this relationship.

So, in reality, power is a beautiful word, when used responsibly and honestly.



January 25, 2018

Today’s Mission

Posted in Compassion tagged , , , , at 9:59 am by kellyfdennis

dune fenceMay you be unstoppable in your mission, strong and fearless. May you live with courage and compassion in your heart. May you find your confidence and wear it like a shield to deflect whatever negativity comes your way. May you feel powerful and proud of who you are and what you do. May you start each day with positive thoughts and readiness to take on the day ahead.

You are on a mission to achieve your goals…be unstoppable!

January 23, 2018


Posted in Self Image tagged , , , , , , , at 8:54 am by kellyfdennis

Discover a New Day logo smallThe person across from me asks, “Am I attractive? What do others think of me?”

I respond, “What do you think of yourself?”

The person sitting across from me doesn’t know how to respond.  She is so accustomed to assessing herself upon others’ reactions that she doesn’t know the answer to the question.

I say “society says you must be thin, young, vivacious.”

She responds, “that’s right, people will accept me if I am those things.”

“Really?” I ask.

Beauty…the true campaign website has this to say about it:

“What you believe about your identity has a direct correlation to what you believe about beauty. For example, if you believe our culture’s message that says your identity is defined by your outward appearance, this belief will likely lead you to focus on what you can do to change, alter or ‘perfect’ your outward appearance. Or perhaps, it will lead you to give up on taking care of your body altogether – the images presented in the media too difficult to even try measuring up to. Ironically, the frustration, disappointment, anxiety and emptiness that accompany such pursuits are quite the opposite of true beauty. 1

Our culture teaches women that beauty is skin deep.

But it’s not…

Beauty is an inner quality. Character, Temperament, Love…

To experience true beauty is to live a life that embraces and expresses the beauty and goodness of life itself.

I think you’re beautiful.

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