What season are you in?

May is the beautiful month where we begin to break away from April showers and begin to greet the warm days approaching when summer is in full gear.  With the sunshine coming out, iced lattes in hand, and sandals on our feet, May is a delight as we escape the cold, dreary winter months.

May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. 

Traditionally, it is a month to speak out against the stigma that accompanies mental health.  When searching the hashtag, #mentalhealthawarenessmonth, you will find countless stories and journeys of those who have chosen to take time for themselves and to dig deep into the seasons that needed attention in order to flourish.

The choice to engage with our mental health is a desire to process our unique “season” of life, and to give it the resources whether it’s in a season of dryness or abundance, withering or blooming.  

As we begin to transition seasons, what season might your heart be in right now and what nourishment, pruning and development does it need? 

Questions to ask are:

  1. What feelings am I experiencing in this season?
  2. What am I encountering in this season? (Life changes, decisions, transitions, etc.)
  3. What do I need to receive? (Resources, guidance, etc.)
  4. What do I need to prune in order to be more fruitful? (Let go, leave behind, etc.)

If you find yourself in a season that feels overwhelming to navigate through or you would like to work through this with a therapist, we would be honored to walk alongside you in whatever season you are in. 

To schedule an appointment, give us a call at 615-591-5262.

Written by Hannah Harriman, Masters Level Counseling Intern at The Refuge Center.

Living Fully



Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to survive.  If our hearts have been wounded, we try to protect from further hurts.  Sometimes survivors, who have endured pain and hurt, in order to protect themselves, pretend that their hearts don’t matter.  Their hopes, longings, feelings, needs, and desires aren’t essential for life.  But they are needed for a fully lived life.

Even when you are trying to ignore your heart, you can still hear its cry.  Survivors try to distract from the cries:
o    We binge on multiple distractions so we don’t feel lonely.
o    We drink excessively because we don’t believe there is anything better.
o    We amass power so we won’t feel afraid.
o    We suffer depression to escape from anger.
o    We practice quid pro quo as an illusion of intimacy.
o    We fight for the status quo to keep from facing our fear.
o    We fight for change to avoid the pain of waiting.
o    We go to church worshipping the ritual that allows us to safely avoid knowing God.
We do all of these things to avoid relationship with our hearts, others’ hearts, and God’s heart.

But we were meant to live fully.  If you’re in survival mode and need help to get out, let us help.  The Refuge Center, 615-591-5262, www.therefugecenter.org

The Voice of the Heart: A Call to Full Living by Chip Dodd

Quieting the Inner Critic


Quieting the Inner Critic

What do you say to yourself every day?  Is it a negative inner dialogue?  What you tell yourself becomes a “soundtrack” in your mind and influences how you view relationships and achievements.  If this soundtrack is negative, it can lead to depression and anxiety.  Thoughts such as “I am a bad person” or “I am not deserving of love” are very painful.  The first step to quieting the inner critic is self-acceptance and self-compassion. The practices of meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercises connect the mind and body and lead to self-compassion. Research has found higher levels of self-esteem are linked to higher levels of relationship satisfaction, job satisfaction, salary and physical health. The counselors at The Refuge Center can help you replace these negative thoughts and begin a journey of self-compassion.  Give us a call today!  615-591-5262 or visit us at refugecenter.org.


Source:  Meyers, L. (2014).  Quieting the inner critic.  Counseling Today, 56(8), 37-43.

Connection Matters


Connection Matters

No matter how much time you devote to improving your mental and emotional health, you will still need the company of others to
feel and be your best. Humans are social creatures with an emotional need for relationships and positive connections to others. We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Our social brains crave companionship–even when experience has made us shy and distrustful of others (Smith, Segal & Segal, 2013).

We are wired for connection. It’s in our biology. As infants, our need for connection is about survival. As we grow older, connection means thriving–emotionally, physically, spiritually and intellectually. Connection is critical because we all have the basic need to feel accepted and to believe that we belong and are valued for who we are (Brown, 2007).

Just a few tips and strategies for connecting to others:
• Get out from behind your TV or computer screen. Communication is a largely nonverbal experience that requires you to be in direct contact with other people.

• Spend time daily, face-to-face, with people you like. Make spending time with people you enjoy a priority.

• Help others. The meaning and purpose you find in helping others will expand your life.

• Be a joiner. Join networking, social action, conservation, bible study, support, or special interest groups that meet on a regular basis.

• Dare to be vulnerable with friends. Vulnerability helps to build trust which leads to deeper connections with others.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. –Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV

If you would like to know more about the benefits of connecting with others, contact The Refuge Center at (615) 592-5262 or visit us at refugecenter.org for more information about the services we offer.

Brown, B. (2007). I thought it was just me (but it isn’t). New York, New Your: Gotham Books

Smith, M., Segal, R., & Segal, J., (2013).  Improving emotional health: Strategies and tips for good mental
health. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/mental_emotional_health.htm




We all have things about our pasts that we don’t like.  Mistakes we feel we’ve made, bad relationships, lost jobs, etc.  It’s easy to live in regret and to continue to look at those situations negatively, causing unhappiness. But they have taught us a great lesson and have brought us to where we are today.  The challenge is to learn the lesson and move forward.  This is also where the healing is.

We all make mistakes.  Is it frustrating?  Yes.  Is it sometimes discouraging?  Yes.  Is it necessary for growth?  Absolutely.  Give yourself some GRACE and look back at how far you’ve come.  It’s all part of our growth and progress.  Experience is a great teacher.  Perhaps you have emerged from a relationship having a better idea of who you are or what you want.  That is a great lessoned learned, progress made.

Your past is not a mistake.  You are not a mistake.  “The only mistake we can make is mistaking that for the truth.”

Beattie, M. (1990). The Language of Letting Go.  Hazelden Foundation