Roadblocks to Destiny

By: David I. Defoe, LCPC-S, NCC


There are many thoughts, attitudes, or feelings that come to our mind and hearts that are deterrents to us moving forward in meaningful ways. Truthfully the habitual counter-productive attitudes and mindsets that rob us our our potential, and progress can be challenged. I have come up with 5 roadblocks to our destiny (ironically they all start with the letter D).

Dwelling on the Past. – For some of us we had great glory days. The times when we were on top of the world, had a little money in our pocket, and lived life care-free. For others the past was not all that great, but was full of heartache, abuse, disappointment or many other difficult things. No matter how great your past was, or how terrible it was… it cannot help you move forward into the future. We are supposed to learn the lessons from our past, but we cannot live in the past. Dwelling on past success will not help you face tomorrow’s challenges, and dwelling on past pain or failure does not equip you with the necessary drive and determination to face the challenges of the present or the future.

Delaying Moving Forward – Have you ever decided to start a new diet, or make some very important life change, and you found yourself giving yourself a start date. I do not know how may times I have said it… This is my last… (fill in the blank), on _______, I am going start my diet. Truth be told if your start date is not at the very moment of conception for your plan… you are wasting time. Lets be honest. There is never any better time for change than the present. Every second you delay only pushes you one more moment from your goal.

Doubting our Abilities – I don't know who said it, but I read a quote one day that said, "Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will."  It is normal when you attempt to climb a mountain that no one has ever climbed before to question whether you are the one who can accomplish something never seen or done.  But the reality is, even if we fail at what we set out to do, we tried.  Do not let doubt, or the fear of the unknown keep you from trying.  Sure it is possible you may fall short, but at least you tried.  You never ever have a chance at accomplishing what you desire to do if you do not try.  So dig deep, believe in yourself, and who knows... you may prove yourself right.

Discouragement – REALLY… If you have big dreams, do not share your big dreams with small minded people. The problem with small minded people is they will take the big dreams you have and try their best to cut them down to their size. Resist the need to have the approval of others. Sure you need support, but not everyone can be in your corner cheering you along. You have to close your ears to the cynics, the negative people, and the dreamcatchers.

Distractions – Whenever you set out to accomplish something, make sure you keep the main thing you are working toward the main thing. When you have a dream or a goal in mind, everything you do should be a step in the direction of where you want to go. If something is going to take you on a detour… Don’t do it. Once you have a clear goal in mind, put blinders on if you have too in order to stick with it. Additionally, the fewer things you attempt to accomplish at one time, the better your chances will be in meeting your goals.

Imara Counseling Services is an independent counseling practice located in Laurel, Maryland, that provides person-centered therapeutic services for a wide variety of mental, behavioral, and psycho-social concerns.

Change Starts with Me

By: David I. Defoe, LCPC

During this time of year a lot of people’s focus shift to change. How can we shed those extra pounds, expand our capacity for learning, life and love? We explore all kinds of avenues to rid ourselves of the old and to make room for the new.
But have you ever tried to change someone else. Perhaps you, like me have said in the past… If I do this she will change. If I don’t answer her or him with an unkind word than perhaps they will treat me lovingly or fairly. There is a hard truth we have to learn, and the sooner we learn it the better off we will be.
The only person we can change is the person in the mirror.
While we cannot change the people who work our nerves, or geo-political forces which limit our rights, or the husband who snores or wife who nags... we can change how we allow those things beyond our control to affect us. I came across a quote the other day which read… “It is easy to protect your feet by putting on slippers than to try to carpet the entire world. Oftentimes we go into the carpeting business. Resist the urge to change others, but change yourself.”
I think the author was getting at the fact that change should never depend on something someone else has to do. But change should depend on how we will choose to respond. How we will stand up in the face of difficulty. How we will take control over our own emotions, feelings, and responses. I think Henley put it best in Invictus…
“It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishment the scroll. I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
Change starts with me, and if I really want to be a whole individual… It ends with me too.

Imara Counseling Services is an independent counseling practice located in Laurel, Maryland, that provides person-centered therapeutic services for a wide variety of mental, behavioral, and psycho-social concerns.

Water Your Own Lawn

By: David I. Defoe, LCPC, NCC

The other day when I went to take out my trash, I took notice of my neighbors yard.  Sure it is the dawn of winter and the vegetation common to his yard was gone for the season.  But I noticed the meticulous care he put into his yard.  The leaves were all raked up, he had trash bags around his planter pots to preserve the annual flowers which bloom in the spring.  Unlike in my yard, his tools were all packed up and everything seemed perfect and in order.

To be honest I was envious.


I began to ask myself, why in the world does my back yard not look like that?  The answer was so simple… I had not made the commitment to making my yard neat, clean, and the envy of others.  I heard someone say one time (or perhaps I read it somewhere), if you think the grass is greener on the other side, water your own lawn.


The reason people have successful marriages has nothing to do with luck, or even with great compatibility (even though that does help big time), but they are successful because couples work at it.  They are successful because they are committed to doing what it takes to make their marriage the envy of others.


Over the next few weeks I will share 12 Principles for Building a Stronger Marriage… Here are the first two:

  1. Don’t EVER Expect Perfection– Allow your husband/wife to be human.  They will make mistakes, and so will you.  We cannot place so high an expectation on our husbands/wives which they will never be able to fulfill (this goes for non-marital relationships as well).  We did not marry a perfect person… we married someone with the potential for failure, flaws, faults and we have to be compassionate and loving enough to create an environment for personal growth.  Growth never occurs where unrealistic demands place a stranglehold on us.
  2. Leave the Past in the Past – History is for textbooks.  Learn the art of forgiveness and forgetfulness.  As long as an issue has been resolved and not swept under the rug… let it go.  If you have a spouse that is constantly reminding you about something you have done in the past, you may not have dealt with the problem effectively.  But if the issue is resolved… don’t dig up the old bodies you have buried… it will only make everything around you stink

Until Next Week…

Imara Counseling Services is an independent counseling practice located in Laurel, Maryland, that provides person-centered therapeutic services for a wide variety of mental, behavioral, and psycho-social concerns.

Dealing with Disappointment

By: David I. Defoe, LCPC, NCC

Things do not always go as planned!

No matter how old you are, where you come from, what socio-economic class you belong too, one day we will all face the harsh lonely road of recovery from disappointment. Disappointment is where our unmet expectations and reality collide, to send our hopes, dreams, aspirations, and best intentions spiraling out of control. At the intersection of what we wanted and what we received, we are oftentimes left with feelings of anger, guilt, regret, sadness, or confusion.

We ask questions like:

  • How in the world did that happen?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • How am I to respond?
  • Who is to blame?

What exists in the vacuum of our unmet hopes, is a significant amount of pain that we try to blame on others, toss up to chance or for the religious… try to explain away as a part of God’s larger plan. But the reality is, the pain is still there. The sadness, no matter how much we blame shift, rationalize, or replay with alternate decision points in our mind… the sadness is present with us. So how do we deal with disappointment, be it from people, or events?

While there are many things I could suggest, I tried to concretize them into 4 actionable items.

1. Talk about your feelings, do not suppress them. Ironically our best efforts to be strong, or not show hurt or negative emotional responses actually makes matters worse. We think that somehow swallowing the bitter pill of disappointment and just “dealing with it” will help mask how we feel. But if we would take an honest look, we would see that the hurt comes out instead in negative behavior. We become short with people, rude, cynical, and oftentimes displace those feeling on those closest to us.

2. Challenge the feelings of regret. I know we have all said it, “If I had it to do all over again, I would…” Stop it!!! We cannot be seduced into thinking that we have to the power to change someone else’s mind, or their behavior. When looking into the past our vision will always be crystal clear. Search for what you can learn from the situation, but do not blame yourself or others for what happened. It will not help. One thing that we all can attest to is that life exists in circles. Oftentimes we are placed back into similar situations that once again call for making impactful choices. Take some time to reflect on what happened and search deep for 1 or 2 things you could take away from the situation that can assist you down the road when you face it again.

3. Recognize that disappointment causes grief. When our expectations are unmet, we grieve. Many people may disagree… but the same emotional responses that people have when they lose a loved one, are the same emotions people deal with when they lose what they hoped for, worked towards, or expected. Take a look at Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief, (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) and what you will discover is that disappointment carries with it complementary feelings. First we can’t believe it happened, then we start to externalize our internal frustrations, which turns into us bargaining with ourselves by dwelling on what if’s. Finally, while I cannot accept depression as a result of disappointment, we began to develop habits that are reflective of depressive symptoms. We avoid social contact, we under indulge or over indulge in activities, our sleep patterns change, and feelings of anxiousness develop. When we are disappointed our heart hurts, we are sad.

4. If you are stuck, seek help.

Marriage Mondays

If we were to be honest, a lot of us loathe Monday Mornings.  Perhaps it is the hangover from weekend activities, or the dawn of a new work week where we punch the clock, attempt to manage tasks, all to feel like we accomplished next to nothing.  Or it could be a result of an inability to predict what another week would bring.  Whatever the reason is, we can admit sometimes we have the Monday blues.


Here at Imara Counseling we wanted to do something different as it related to Mondays to make them more hopeful, engaging, as well as inspirational.  Today we are launching Marriage Mondays where we will provide education, conflict resolution skills, dating ideas, communication tools, and a host of other relationship building skills for couples.  Sometimes it may just be a quote with a reflection question, other times it may be a list of things to try, or simply a blog post where we answer reader’s questions.  We intend for it to be fluid, and be used a tool to help strengthen your relationship.  As it is with all advice/education columns, not everything will work for everyone, so keep what is useful, and disregard what may not work for you.  So here goes… Marriage Mondays #1…