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Stepping Out of the Shadows/[Re]Connecting With
Your Life's Journey

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Strengthening Your Bonds of Fellowship
Chapter 1
By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

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A Prescription For Emotional and Spiritual Well-Being
There comes that mysterious meeting in life when someone acknowledges who we are and what we can be, igniting
the circuits of our highest potential.
-Rusty Berkus    

“Thanks for seeing me after group tonight, I just need a couple of minutes of your time.”

Laurie earlier asked to see me for a few minutes after our group session in order to discuss a recommendation her doctor had made for her.

“I got a physical today and my doctor started asking me a bunch of questions. The next thing I knew, she was telling me she thought it would be a good idea for me to start taking antidepressant medication.

“I told her I thought that I should talk it over with you first.”

I spent a few minutes talking with Laurie about the research on antidepressant medication, the pros and cons, what her choices were.

The one thing I emphasized with Laurie, as I do with all of my clients is, as a clinical psychologist I cannot prescribe medication. However I was more than happy to share with her a prescription that I can and do write for all of my clients.

She seemed to perk up a little when I told her that, so I continued.

“There are three things that I prescribe for anybody who is struggling, trying to enhance their emotional well-being. The first thing I prescribe is people. We have to step out of our isolation and find a way to get connected to the human race. There’s nothing more healing to the soul than to experience the love and the support we can only get from being involved with other human beings.

“It’s really very simple. We all need to feel like we have a place in this world, that we matter to another living soul, that we hold some importance to somebody else. The relationship we have with ourselves is important for our emotional well-being, but that relationship has its own limits.”

Laurie was listening intently to what I had to say. She was nodding her head as I was speaking, so I continued.

“The second thing I prescribe is people. We need to be able to step out of our own problems, out of our own pain, and contribute, contribute to somebody else’s life. Involvement with other people, providing emotional nutrition for somebody else is a magical elixir for our own frozen souls.

“When we isolate and disconnect from our world, we feel empty as our lives are void of meaningful contact with others. Feeling alienated from the rest of the world drains our spirit of hope and purpose, the thought that our life matters. The act of giving to others, the act of transcending our own constricted world, plants the seeds of hope and purpose in our own lives.”

Laurie was still with me, so I looked at her and asked, “Now those are the first two things that I prescribe, what do you imagine the third thing is?”

Laurie stuck her right index finger under her chin, tilted her head back a little, rolled her eyes toward the ceiling, smiled and asked, “Uh, it wouldn’t be people, would it?”

“As a matter of fact, it would be. People is the third thing I prescribe. We need to be involved with people who are emotionally safe for us. People who can be supportive, who can be there for us. Emotionally safe relationships are an important catalyst for our own personal growth. They provide the necessary contact we need with others to get out of ourselves. People who are emotionally safe to be with provide an outlet for us to step out of our woundedness and experiment with how we live our lives.

“That’s the essence of our emotional and spiritual well-being. Experimentation. Experimenting with our life choices. Expanding the world in which we live. Plugging into the love and support from others who are invested in our development, not threatened by it.”

Strengthening the Bonds of Fellowship. That’s what I call this stage of our journey. Building bridges to the human race. Getting involved with the people in our lives. Ending the wars we wage not only within ourselves, but with all the people we come into contact with.

Ending the isolation. Transforming the alienation. Creating harmony where there was once acrimony and pain. Does that sound like fertile ground to march on?

Do you see the value of fellowship in the context of the big picture we’re painting? Here’s how I think about it. Relationships are like a mirror. A mirror that reflects back to us who we are, and who we can become. A mirror from which we can learn how the world experiences us, which invariably is different than what we believe to be true about ourselves.

Without a consistent source of contact with safe people that we can learn to be ourselves with, we lose an important balancing point to the many judgments we hold about who we are. Creating meaningful contact with safe people provides us with important feedback so that we may escape our self-imposed prisons of alienation and condemnation. 

Let me more specifically list for you the value I find in all of us being willing and able to strengthen the bonds of fellowship. Don’t just read the list, but think about how any one item may hold some truth for you.        

Emotionally safe relationships enhance our self-esteem

Emotionally safe relationships activate the seeds of our potential for our personal growth

Emotionally safe relationships extract ourselves from the darkness of our isolation

Emotionally safe relationships elevate our mood

Emotionally safe relationships enable us to contribute to the well-being of other people

Emotionally safe relationships enable us to see more clearly how the world experiences us

Emotionally safe relationships create a purpose in our lives

Emotionally safe relationships teach us about who we are

Let’s stop for a moment and explore in a more personal way what Strengthening the Bonds of Fellowship means to you. Try to focus on the value that building better bridges with the people who matter most to you can add to your life.

As I share with you my prescription for emotional well-being, I am not naive enough to believe that it’s not without its own set of side-effects. That’s why we work so hard in our Relationship Bridge-Builders groups to develop the skills and the awarenesses necessary to insure that we create safe relationships. At the same time, on balance, throughout the years, I have discovered that there’s not a more powerful elixir out there than safe relationships that support our growth and accept who we are and where we are at in our  journey.



Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.


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