Sanctuary Counseling, LLC.
Douglassville: 610.385.3155 Audubon: 610.850.8009

What’s the Greater Risk?

We are often taught to see acceptance as a catch-22, perhaps because our exposure to this word typically occurs in relation to others. We are taught that belonging is more important than self-acceptance, an implicit and yet powerful message that impacts the value we place on our individuality. Regardless of our age or origin, we are all categorically placed into either ‘influencer’ or ‘influenced’, placing extraordinarily high pressure on us to fit in if we can’t stand out in the ‘right’ ways.

Acceptance is also peculiar in that it can be feigned, providing a false sense of confidence and support in a situation where there is very little. Becoming accustomed to this brand of acceptance is easy as it is truly all around us. Molds and guides await us on every platform, website, and media outlet offering a seemingly harmless escape from facing and crafting our own lives. Only, these molds and guides are inconsistent, contrived, and formulated to be just beyond our reach. Defeated by these expectations we may feel empty – questioning who we really are and whether or not we are good enough. Where do I start when I feel so disconnected? I’ve lost so much time, will I ever feel like me?

While uncomfortable, the times in our lives that we are thinking this way have enormous potential. Opening to this inner voice that is challenging us to find a different way to express ourselves and interact with this world expands our minds and helps us cultivate a renewed sense of possibility – a revolution of self. We have the power to challenge our understanding of acceptance and self-acceptance to be more complementary instead of adversarial. We already know that shallow acceptance can be achieved, but true acceptance and belonging requires more of us. We must be willing to explore our own potential and differentiate from the group in order to figure out where we belong.

Committing to this journey helps us honor the aspects of ourselves that make us wonderfully unique and celebrate the same in others. When we accept ourselves we are better able to help others do the same, initiating relationships grounded in true belonging. Living from a place of self-love equips us to value alone time without feeling lonely and time with others as profound and not simply distraction.

We welcome you to start this therapeutic journey with us on Nov. 9th, 10th, and 11th. On these days, we are holding the Lanterns and Labyrinths Fall 2018 Retreat for those who feel called to revolutionize the way they relate to themselves and those around them. As part of our weekend retreat, we will explore what it means to be vulnerable, to show up in our lives with courage, and what wholehearted living can look like. We will experience expressive arts together. We will share meals together. We will make meaningful connections with others and especially with our own selves and our own stories.

This three-day retreat explores The Daring Way™, a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. During the process, we will explore topics such as vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness. We will go deep to examine the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are holding us back and identify the new choices and practices that will move us toward more authentic and wholehearted living. The primary focus is on developing shame resilience skills and developing daily practices that transform the way we live, love, parent, and lead.

Register online today at! If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 610-385-3155.

6 Hacks to Survive the Holidays (And Your Family)

Let’s face it – as much as we love our families and look forward to seeing them over the holidays, it can be stressful to balance different households with different views, beliefs, and expectations. I’ve compiled a list of ways to navigate holidays with families whether you’re traveling to multiple households or spending long periods of time at one.

1. If you need it, reserve some alone time. Know ahead of time if you’ll have an opportunity to maybe take a walk around the block or take a quick nap. Spending lots of time conversing with lots of people can be exhausting (I’m lookin’ at you introverts!). That being said, it’s likely important to spend a majority of your time with family, but know when you need a few minutes to yourself to “re-charge.”

2. Identify your support system ahead of time. Whether it be a partner, parent, friend – having someone that you can turn to if you become overwhelmed is essential. This could even be as simple as knowing which friend you will send a text message to if you need to vent.

3. Don’t overdo it & keep appropriate boundaries. If you are going to your mother-in-laws home and know that after about the four-hour mark, conversations tend to turn to uncomfortable topics – politics, religion – maybe it makes sense to set the boundary that you will stay for that amount of time, but no longer. We all have a threshold for managing uncomfortable conversations with family members and it’s important to not avoid them at all costs, but it also doesn’t mean you need to subject yourself to them every time.

4. Maintaining self-care that you know works for you. Not all self-care activities will always be do-able at any given time. We don’t always have access to a gym or a bubble bath. Having a handful of self-care activities that can be easily done or don’t take much time can be essential for getting through the holidays when you don’t have the option to set a boundary for how long you will be somewhere. Some ideas include meditation (Headspace is a great app for this!), taking a walk outside, reading, listening to music, and the list goes on. Just make sure what you choose is accessible.

5. Try not to get caught up in the consumerism. When the focus turns to “I didn’t get Sally a gift” or “why has Ted not told me what size shoe my niece wears??” things can get stressful REAL quick. When gifts are an expectation that your family holds, try getting your shopping done early or suggest drawing names to reduce the amount of shopping needed. This allows you to take in the true magic of the season and to enjoy the time you do get to spend with family.

6. Set a goal. This year I want to take more time to enjoy conversation. This year I want to make it a point to sit down with my mother and have an uninterrupted talk. This year I want to bake a pie from scratch with my sister. This year I want to start a new tradition/ritual with my family. Setting a goal for the holidays can keep you focused on something fun or important to you. It can also create excitement when you think about accomplishing that goal. Remember to remain open to the fact that sometimes things do not work out exactly as you would like and that’s ok. Setting the intention can be just as powerful as actually completing it exactly as imagined.
Even holidays with the closest and most considerate of families can feel overwhelming at times. It’s important to listen to your mind and body in the process and try to give it what it needs. You’ll enjoy time with family much more if you feel centered and ready to converse. Which of these ideas will you try to incorporate this year during the holidays?

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