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June 20, 2014

Written by:

Nicole Iacovoni, LCSW, Founder & Executive Clinician at Willow Tree Wellness & Counseling, LLC


We have all experienced times in our lives when we’ve asked, “Why is this happening to me?” or thought to ourselves that things can’t get any worse.  You might even be experiencing a difficult struggle in your life right at this very moment, feeling hopeless that things will look up. Life is filled with ups and downs, but when we take a fall, we often feel defeated rather than seeing the purpose of the experience. 


When we encounter devastation in our lives, be it in the form of a job loss, relationship issue, financial burden, or any other way that negatively impacts us, we feel the pain of it. We feel heartache, worry, and fear, all of which are highly uncomfortable and unpleasant. As human beings, we are programmed to constantly seek pleasure and avoid pain. In every decision we make, we assess what will bring us the most pleasure and prevent the most discomfort. Because of this, the concept of sitting with the pain of a hardship in our lives is foreign and often rejected by us. In turn, we see no potential for positivity in what we are experiencing. The falls we take in our lives are perceived whole heartedly as negative misfortune. 



To help us ease our own suffering, we must consider how each moment of our lives, both good and bad, shape us, guide us, and propel us in the directions we are destined to travel. The low points in our life carry a significant energy that drive us in a different direction than the were originally going, and without this shift, we would stay stuck. Imagine how boring life would be if it never changed. In a way, we owe gratitude to hard times, because without them, we wouldn’t experience the things in life that make it exciting, stimulating, and fulfilling. 


Our whole concept of the world is based on opposites. Without bad there is no good, without ugliness there is no beauty, without rich there is no poor. It isn’t always easy to see the good fortune hidden in misfortune, but it is always there. Without misfortune, there would be no good fortune at all. We wouldn’t have any idea what good feels like, had we never experienced bad. 


One thing that will always remain true is the bigger your purpose in life, the bigger and harder your falls will be. If you find yourself feeling the pain of a devastation in your life, try not to push through it and avoid seeing the purpose. No storm lasts forever; each one always passes in it’s own time. Remind yourself that the worse it feels for you now, the better it will feel for you once you get on the right path again.


June 15, 2014


Written by:

Nicole Iacovoni, LCSW, Founder & Executive Clinician at Willow Tree Wellness & Counseling, LLC, Bloomsburg, PA


In Wayne Dyer’s book, “What Do We Really Want for Our Children?”, he introduces a novel method of parenting that raises children to develop positive self image, self discipline, emotional resilience, and a positive, no-limit way of living. Dyer suggests providing unconditional love and acceptance to our children, using praise instead of punishment, and acting as a guide rather than  a caretaker to encourage children to become independent, high functioning contributors in the world. 


So, what do we really want for our children? Most parents want their children to grow up happy, healthy, self-reliant, and confident in themselves and their abilities. To some, this can seem like an unachievable goal. Many may even use the excuse that their child is too old to begin implementing new parenting strategies that will lead to their child’s personal growth. Whatever the age, it is never too late to take charge of your life and make all your hopes for your children become a reality. 


Looking back on your own childhood, what do you wish would have been different? What do you wish you had more of as a child? What do you wish your parents had taught you while you were growing up? In general, we all want unconditional love and acceptance from our parents. We want high self-esteem, effective strategies for dealing with anger, being free from illness and pain, and to enjoy life. We want to be able to take risks without fearing failure and have the ability to form and maintain meaningful relationships with others. Now, as a parent yourself, you are in charge of providing all of these things to your own children. 


But how? The first step is to understand that we cannot teach what we do not know. If we don’t enjoy life, have positive self image, or cope with anger effectively ourselves, we can’t teach our children how to. We must always lead by example and serve as a model for our children. To give our children what we really want for them, we must first work on ourselves. 


Leading by example certainly isn’t easy, but it is effective. Engaging in the same type of behavior that you want your child to change is pointless. Dyer points out, “An angry child is best answered by a calm person. A lazy child is best encouraged by an enthusiastic person”. However, we often get caught in a trap of trying to gain power and control over our children. We attempt to prove that we are the ultimate authority. We demand respect and with a “do what your told” attitude rather than a “do what I do” approach. 


If we challenge ourselves to be role models for our children, there is little else for us to worry about. The principal goal of parenting is teaching children to become their own parents. We want our children to be self-reliant, free thinkers who trust their own abilities and skills. We want our children to become independent so they aren’t dependent upon us for the rest of their lives. By giving our children responsibility, encouraging them to face the consequences of their actions, and guiding them to concern themselves only with their own opinions, rather than the opinions of others, we help our children develop a sense of control over their own lives. 


We need to treat children as though they are whole now. We must escape the notion that children have yet to become what they will be. It is erroneous to believe that children aren’t “big enough”, “strong enough”, or “smart enough” to achieve their goals. Self-confidence is learned by doing. If we treat our children as if they already are what they are capable of becoming and allow them to gain experience, we help them become self-confident. This is non-interference. By not placing limits on our children, telling them they can’t do something, we give them a precious gift; our faith and trust in their potential. 


The parenting approaches suggested by Dyer are unique, revolutionary, and highly effective. In “What Do We Really Want for Our Children”, Dyer provides specific techniques for raising children in a way that is loving, respectful, and positive. He also raises thoughtful questions that provoke self exploration and insight. We highly recommend this book for parents who feel lost, seek to yell less and love more, or have identified that their current parenting approach just isn’t working.



June 1, 2014

Written by:

Nicole Iacovoni, LCSW, Founder & Executive Clinician at Willow Tree Wellness & Counseling, LLC, Bloomsburg, PA


When we look around at the world we live in, it becomes easy to feel constantly annoyed and angry. After all, life presents many challenges on a daily basis. The speedster that darts in front of you and steals your parking spot, the guy in front of you that lets the door slam in your face instead of holding it open for you, or the teenager who lives next door blaring their music at midnight are all examples of reasons to be perpetually angry. Or are they?


There are two ways to look at virtually any situation. One is the violent way, and one is the peaceful way. We have the power and the ability to choose how we perceive the world and can readily perceive the peaceful side of life. How is this possible, you ask? The answer is simple, but the means of accomplishing the goal is more of an obstacle to overcome.


If we want to perceive the world as more pleasant and rid ourselves of anger and frustration, we must change the way we think about the world. The brain is the control center of the human body, which allows you to govern your own emotions. You are in charge of your emotions; they are not in charge of you. However, if you want to live a happy life, you can’t react with anger whenever someone else decides to behave in an angry, vindictive, or inconsiderate way. You must take charge by shifting your perceptions, which in turn, will shift your feelings and your behaviors. 


The concept of changing the way you think, feel, and behave is the whole premise behind cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a relatively brief mode of treatment, ranging between 10-20 hours and works to help people think differently about the events that take place in their lives. Most of the time, we believe things about ourselves and the people around us because we have good evidence for those beliefs. Yet, we are often very selective in the evidence we focus on, or what we believe to be fact. It is because of the tendency to gravitate toward the negative that leads us to be controlled by our emotions, and leads to an unpleasant experience of the world. 


Today, challenge your own beliefs. Question the automatic thoughts that come to mind. Rather than allowing your emotions to control you and your life experience, take the reins and view the world through a peaceful lense. Take a close look at the evidence that has been supporting your assumptions and see if it is unbiased. Chances are, you will find that what you have been believing all along makes no sense at all. If you try shifting your thoughts and don’t succeed, you might try working with a cognitive behavioral therapist. The brief investment yields a high payoff: happiness.



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