Dr. T. James Kimble DCC, LCPC

Child and Family Counseling

1116 Dixie Highway

Radcliff, KY 40160

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Power of touch proven essential to healthy lives

  • Column by T.J. KIMBLE Sep 15, 2019 Updated Sep 16, 2019

Feelings, nothing more than feelings. But feelings come and feelings go, so many of us attempt to refrain from crying and like the song says try to forget about the feelings of love that have touched our lives.

Sometimes the circumstances allowed to touch our lives are painful beyond the ability of words to describe. Their pain is so powerful and agonizing we withdraw from our feelings and begin to create an inner world or interior existence that’s void of external feelings and often minimizes the value of human touch.

Life has its own way of happening and sometimes its happenings are not very human. If we are fortunate, when life deals us a sucker punch that same life will send us someone whose life touch will help humanize our hurts and heal our wounds.

We think we can make it without it. The truth is we are not as strong as we think we are when it comes to repressing our true feelings and attempting to go without being touched. In fact, archaic documents have revealed a cruel and barbaric 13th-century study by the German emperor Frederick II in which newborns in an orphanage were selected to be fed by nurses, but not to be talked to or touched. Every last one of those babies died.

To be touched or not to be touched, is the same as asking to die or not to die? As ironic as it may sound just as it’s usually the bitter touch of human hands that inflict so much harm, so it’s usually the compassionate touch of human hands that administer great healing and save lives.

In the 1940s, Dr. Fritz Talbot conducted scientific research in direct reference to the effects of touch on babies development. The study was conclusive and found direct connections between human touch and an infant’s appropriate ability to grow and develop respectively. There are of course a plethora of additional studies that prove the common connection between meaningful human touch, compassionate caring and its minimization of the infant mortality rates.

It’s hard wired into our DNA. It seems we are designed for caring connections and loving human touch that compassionately connect us to a sense of community capable of keeping us alive in this crazy chaotic cosmos we call home. Nothing gives another person permission to be human and to be accepted with all their feelings and insecurities more than loving human to human contact.

Sometimes a person may not need you to be strong and tell them how everything is going to be OK, especially when you know everything is not OK.

What if a more honest and human response is to take someone’s hand and gently assure them it’s perfectly normal to feel the way they feel and you are here with them fully present to experience the uncertainty of all their humanity together.

Truth be known it’s not just infants that need human touch. There’s a hurting humanity all around us dying from the lack of compassion contacts and authentic human touch. Deep down we all long for connection and nothing connects us as meaningfully as appropriate human to human contact.

I’m not a touchy feely person myself, but I have come to realize that a life without caring compassionate connections with others is like living life with an incurable kind of leprosy. No one else will ever want to touch you for fear they may contract the disease.

I have become convinced that over time, although the leprosy will cause you much harm, the condition you have is not what will kill you, but the lack of human contact that is created by the condition.

There is no antidote to the inhumane heartbreaks that happen like simple human-to-human contact that provide permission for the broken heart to heal.

Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clincal pastoral counselor. He can be reached at tj@yourbestlifenowcounseling.com.

We live in an age of paralysis by fear, where many voices attempt to dictate and control our thoughts and decisions.

Fear can paralyze everything that’s good in life. Left unchecked, it seizes your dream, suffocating all unrealized potential by constantly reminding you how badly you failed the last time you tried to be yourself.

This creates a sense of desperation, real or perceived, pushing people to live lives of constant compromise and limitations.

It’s very dangerous, but if you stop a moment, open your eyes and look around, you’ll see for better or for worse, this is our society. It’s become a desperate situation.

My son and I recently discussed the fear factor and how it holds many hostage, putting their dreams to death. He said our conversation reminded him of his favorite quote, “Every­­thing you want is on the other side of fear” by Jack Canfield.

The words excited my soul, rushing over me like thousands of voices, so strong they completely silenced the voice of fear. Then the thought occurred to me, “Where have the voices of our fathers’ gone? For it’s the sound of their voices and the words of wisdom from their well-worn years that silence the voice of fear in the hearts of our children.”

It has been said “the hands that rock the cradle rule the world.” But what if the hands that handle fear rule the hearts of all men? Nothing puts fear in its place like the presence of a father.

Sometimes we all find ours­elves in need of a father. Where there’s no father, fear’s allowed to drive the heart out of control.

There’s this ancient Hebrew proverb that says,” He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that’s broken down and without walls.”

The bottom line: Children aren’t meant to be left alone. And they’re not going to learn to exercise self-control or face their fears, without fear-handling fathers training them how to rule their hearts and quench the flames of fear-breathing dragons.

If you’re reading this and are self-controlled, your city has strong walls and you’ve defeated all your childhood dragons, please reach out to your father and thank him for teaching and showing you how to overcome dragons and rule your heart while you were young.

My dad was a dragon killer. I’d give anything to be able to thank him for showing me how to silence the voice of fear in my heart and the hearts of my children.

I also dream of a place where every fatherless child can find help putting fear in its place, rebuilding their broken walls and ruling over their own spirit. I want to be a place where kids learn to put their fears to death before their fears put them to death.

Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clinical pastoral counselor. He can be reached at tj@yourbestlifenowcounseling.com.

The concept of community is as old as creation itself. Without community, all creation spirals out of control and into a chaotic state driven by the illusion of control.

The illusion can only last so long, until a crisis happens that pulls back the curtain, revealing all your vulnerabilities that are absent from the covering and strength found in healthy communities.

This whole idea reminds me of a movie my son and I recently watched. In the movie department, we’re both true story connoisseurs and “The Mercy” doesn’t disappoint. It demonstrates exactly what can happen when someone becomes dangerously disconnected from the life preserving constructs community connections epitomize.

The movie is built around the 1968-69 Sunday Times Golden Globe around the world, non-stop, yacht race and Donald Crowhurst, an amateur sailor, whose fate seems to be doomed before his yacht ever makes the water. The story’s tragic ending almost seems inevitable as Crowhurst, a middle-aged engineer, allows himself to be swept away from all community ties that bind him to the sacred sanity; found only in the tension of being fully present and living life together with others whose plights are peculiarly common to his own. When we allow ourselves to lose sight of community, we too are left to the mercy of the proverbial roaring sea and we’re as good as dead in the water.

As I contemplate the necessity of community connections and the need to maintain healthy relationships this question echoes in my mind, “Do I really need some sort of sustainable family system around my life in order to avoid being destroyed by myself (internal tension) or by the elemental forces that surround me (external tensions)?”

The answer resonates in the form of an age-old question, “Why do zebras have stripes?”

Zebras are herd animals and social creatures by nature. They have been known to form large herds thousands of zebras strong and if one zebra gets hurt its immediate family circles around to fend off predators such as lions and hyenas.

What if the stripes are really a communal life preserver that prevent predators from singling out a weak or injured zebra because all the stripes together make it virtually impossible to differentiate one zebra from the other?

Talk about strength or safety in numbers. The herd is the zebras’ community and its stripes are the mark of unity and togetherness that just might be what protects it from the jaws of the roaring lion’s mouth.

No man is an island and those who attempt to be are as vulnerable as a zebra without stripes. Community is found in common places where we are circled by others who provide the stripes that protect and unite us. The community ties that bind us to a sacred sanity that’s dependent upon the life-giving process of cooperation.

Donald Crowhurst would have done well, as would every other man, to pay head to the words of John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

There is something profound that happens when a community comes together for the betterment of its citizenry: people start helping people and the individual “I” must sail alone becomes “we” must set sail together. A circle is formed around those who have been battered and bruised and it remains unbroken until their stripes and merits become so much like the stripes and merits of those encircling them that no one can tell them apart.

Then it happens, a symbi­o­tic relationship begins to take shape where the life and purpose of one becomes the life and purpose of all. And out of the depths of everyone’s sorrows and brokenness rises a beautiful cause greater than the mercy of any sea – an unsinkable ship that never sailed alone.

Unified is a ship any community can sail straight into the history books. One man can’t build and sail a ship around the world alone, it takes a community to create a cause that can circumnavigate and change the world. May we never sail alone and may the circles we build create ties that cannot be broken.

Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clinical pastoral counselor. He can be reached at tj@yourbestlifenowcounseling.com.

At a recent intensive counseling retreat, I found myself involved in an exercise that provided a part of my healing process that eluded me for years.

I was in a small group that was being observed. We were talking about caretaker fatigue. Before I knew it, I said, “I feel,” and the facilitator asked, “would you please stay with how you feel?” I said sure, as I answered a few more questions. Before I realized it, I heard myself say these words, “Sure I’m attending this weekend to grow professionally, but deep down I’m really here for me.”

The facilitator encourage me to stay with what I was feeling deep down and try to verbalize why I was really here.

Then it happen. Everything slowed down and I suddenly was very aware of my body and exactly how I felt in the moment.

“I’m here because I want to be unconditionally loved and accepted.” Then I heard myself say, “I give myself permission to feel unconditionally loved and accepted for who I am.”

In that moment, a part of me that had been detached for years suddenly came back home and I was feeling everything around me I had been completely numbed to before.

After dealing with complex PTSD, there I sat for the first time in my adult life feeling safe, secure and a sense of complete self-control that was empowering me to be able to relate to a room full of strangers in a way that made me feel alive and well.

God used that weekend to answer my prayer. I wanted to be able to know what it’s like to feel and to be more in touch with the feelings of others. I desperately wanted to move past the somatic/body amnesia blocking me from being in touch with my feelings and from living in the present moment. And being able to meaningfully share those moments with others around me.

So when one of the facilitators said, “It’s OK to feel the way you do,” I felt touched and understood a dead part of me seemed to come back to life.

If you’re reading this and can’t relate, I’m so thankful for you. Complex-PTSD is real and all too often misdiagnosed and labeled with so many pop-diagnosis.

How does someone get to the place of not really being able to feel or relate to others feelings? I had a loaded gun pointed, slammed into my head and it discharged. I was the first responder when my stepdad accidentally shot himself in the knee. I’ve witnessed furniture go through windows, guns going off inside the house and abusive physical assaults such as having my head repeatedly slammed into a concrete pad and being choked until I passed out. These are just highlights of my abusive childhood experiences and are in no way a complete representation of the pure hell I experienced.

We would do well to be more diligent in understanding others’ trauma story before we hastily place pop labels that simply compound and victimize those who are experiencing PTSD from childhood abuse.

But there’s really no money to be made in actually using a more empathy-based trauma care model or approach that empowers people to feel human again and to become well.

It takes genuine empathy, compassion and the patients of job to do this kind of work. It’s not for the faint of heart nor for counselors or therapist whose primary concern is making sure their services are billable.

This idea of your soul coming home to a place where you can feel safe, secure and in control within your own body reminds me of Easter.

Christ is the ultimate example of support and permission to be in touch with our feelings. The Easter story teaches us Christ is touched by the feelings of our infirmities and not only empathizes with our bodily pains but gave himself completely to fully support us in being restored so we can live, move and have our being in such a way that allows us to be fully human and completely in touch with our own feelings.

Thus, empowering us to be more in touch with the feelings of others and providing the integral supports and soul care others require in their journey through the process of somatic resurrection. Home really is where the heart is befriended by the soul.

Welcome to your new life.

Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clinical pastoral counselor. He can be reached at tj@yourbestlifenowcounseling.com.

Change is a process we move through as we live out our days in this uncertain journey we call life.

One of the most fundamental elements common to all life is movement. Those who have mastered this truth understand how to lean into life each day, hugging and embracing the growth and development process. In other words, the most successful people have developed the habit of living in the moment, forgetting what is behind, moving into and living in the next moment life provides.

Without movement, you will die and the change process often requires much movement.

Most of us have heard unfortunate stories about survivors caught up in tragic life events. Whether plane crashes in the mountains, car accidents in the cities, storms and weather-related natural disasters, almost all the survival stories routinely have one thing in common: They all kept moving, embracing the changes that were happening all around them in such a way they kept them alive in the moment and moving forward into the next moment.

They understood the changes that were taking place around them and the need to transition from passive observer to proactive responder. This approach changes the emphasis from the tragic events to how you will personally will respond and embrace those events, in such a way that keeps you fully in the moment and purposely and intentionally moving through the uncertainty to be able to live and experience the reality of moving forward in the change process.

Sometimes life changes can feel a lot like driving through mud. Getting stuck is easy, but getting unstuck usually requires admitting you’re in a rut and willingly acknowledging the positive benefits of allowing yourself to be helped out.

I used to have this cool 4×4 Jeep. I loved it. One night after a lot of rain, a friend shows up at my office. He’d been camping and his minivan was stuck in the mud. When I showed up and saw all the mud, I was elated. The road into the campsite was 100 yards long and looked like quicksand. He was worried if my Montero would be able to pull his van out. We hooked up the chains and rehearsed our strategy. I gave him the thumbs-up sign as I climbed into my Jeep.

It wasn’t pretty. There was mud flying everywhere as the Jeep pulled that van all the way back to the paved road. My Jeep was totally covered in mud. It was an awesome sight, but not nearly as priceless as the look of relief that continued forming on my friend’s face as the reality of being unstuck settled over his being.

Sometimes the change process and forward movement are about being a strong enough person to know when and where to embrace your natural supports.

Good, bad and ugly are all par for the course we call life. But growth, development and the process of moving forward require you to be fully present in the moment; experiencing and taking in all that’s occurring for the express purpose of transitioning to the next phase in the journey. Change is the one constant that is here to stay whether you want it or not.

But there is one change you always have control over. You can choose to change how you understand and view everything that’s going on around you.

By changing how you think, you put yourself in a position that moves you away from perpetuating the problem and toward being part of the solution.

This kind of forward-thinking process is exactly what empowered my friend to reach out to someone with a 4×4 to get his van out of the mud.

This is why I share with people who are stuck in emotional mud or traumatic ruts, “I’m not nearly as concerned with what’s happened in your life as I’m concerned with what you actually think and believe about what’s happened.”

To the degree you change your thought processes, you begin changing how you believe. To the degree you change how you believe, you will reshape how you behave and act. To the degree you behave and act differently, you will transition and move into a life experience where you are more than a survivor. You are a soul shaper who hasn’t become your story, but has put your life experiences in their proper place,

Understand that life changes and tragedies have happened to you, but they are not allowed to define you or prevent you from moving into a more meaningful and purpose-filled life.

Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clinical pastoral counselor. He can be reached at tj@yourbestlifenowcounseling.com.