Healthy Break Rule-breaking for Trauma Therapy and Family Psychology

What does rebellion have to do with depression? What does it have to do with trauma recovery or family psychology?

Rebellion is active. It changes things. It forces a new perspective. Rebellion gets you moving, which fights depression. Rebellion causes you to think on your feet. It provides just enough confusion to force you into creative mode.


Try this exercise to get a feel for how a little rebellion can help you think:

Rearrange the furniture in any room of your home. Put things where you don’t think they belong. Set something at an angle. Put a bed or couch in the center of the room. Go into a different room and steal some piece of decor from it. Put that stolen object in your rearranged room. Sit in every corner of rearranged room and look at the perspective you have there. Now, make another change. How do you feel? Pick out something to sell and move it out. How do you feel?

Furniture placement may not cure your depression, but learning to mix it up causes all sorts of internal changes that heal. First and foremost, the act of breaking rules in your living space causes a recalibration of control. You have to let go of something to do this. You have to relax a standard and pooh-pooh the proper. This triggers tectonic shifts of the mind. Neurons work together differently, form groups, break out of their grooves. You learn. You assimilate new data into your working system.

Here’s another list of active rebellions to get you moving again.

  1. Clean out your closets. Donate anything that doesn’t make you feel good.
  2. Paint your front door red or green or yellow.
  3. Take belly dancing lessons.
  4. Study the art of verbal seduction.
  5. Pick a wall in your house and paint a mural on it.
  6. Trade in your mini-van for a vintage Volkswagen bus.
  7. While out on a walk, ding-dong ditch your neighbors.
  8. Send your friend an anonymous gift subscription to Wrestling USA.
  9. Wear a funny hat to the DMV.
  10. Plant catnip in your flower beds.

For more activities tools that can help with depression, check out these simple and pleasant activities that help boost your mood and energy level:

For more about Healthy Rebellions, check out this blog post:

In trauma therapy, I encourage a little healthy rebellion. Because disobedience is good for you. Because it chases away depression. Because it crowds out propriety and invites in hilarity. Because when you laugh or gasp or feel scandalous, you know you’re alive.

If you have questions about my pathway for helping you or how healthy rebellion can positively impact trauma therapy and family psychology, please contact me or call me today at 417-886-8262.

Contact Deborah

Springfield, MO Psychologist: Disobey Your Mother to Survive

Healthy Rebellion, Part 2: Why You Must Disobey Your Mother if you Want to Survive

I am a Springfield, MO Psychologist and published author. But, I am also a mother. I get it. Mothers create structure and nurture. We tell you what to do. We train, disapprove, lecture, and reward. Because we adore you. Because it’s our job. But at some point, our love becomes smothering and what was appropriate when you were two turns into nightmarish over-control when you are ten or fifteen. And what kept you safe at fifteen robs you of your life at thirty.

Everyone must differentiate from mother: even your mother must differentiate from mother.

Maybe you find yourself editing your thoughts or ideas when your mother is around. Maybe you limit yourself physically, socially, or intellectually when you’re with her. Or maybe you take a little guilt trip when you think of her? Alone in her house with the phone not ringing?

…and maybe you feel depressed or ashamed

…and maybe you have a hard time enjoying yourself if you think she’s not okay

…and maybe you say, I could never move away because what would she do?

Blame this dilemma on some big forces. Religion and commerce deface the idea of Mother:

They teach us to treat mothering as both a shopping imperative and a life-long martyrdom, a sacred role, a covenant, a debt to be repaid. She gave us life, so we owe her everything. Which of course means we must be loyal and sweet and give her perfect grandchildren.

In reality, mothering is time-limited. Anyone with a fourteen-year-old can tell you this. It’s intensely, deliciously hard for a few years. We hold that toddler and think, how could this ever end? Then we start getting clues about the limits of our ability to mother. The teen says, “I’m not wearing that. It makes me look like a momma’s boy.” We start to really know. Part of mothering is the job of letting go.

But many mothers have huge difficulty letting go. They fear being alone, so they hold onto a child for comfort, reverse the roles, forcing the person into lifelong servitude. They get so far into the role of Motherhood, they can’t find themselves anymore – much less see their children for who they really are.

…We don’t have to destroy our mothers to thrive, but we do have to prune them back a bit. Our job = pruning. Her job = grieving, changing.

The natural process of rebellion – becoming separate and fully who you are at the deepest levels – threatens your mother. Maybe just a little bit. Maybe a lot. This is natural. Although it’s her grief, she sends you signals that your independence is unacceptable. She hints. She goes silent. She triggers huge guilt bombs that go off in your body and distract you from the important work you were meant to do in this world. It’s not personal, it’s just the process.

 You need disobedience like air and water. Here are some ideas for healthy insurgency.

  • moving a little further away
  • challenging the family religious tradition
  • wearing thrift-store clothes
  • speaking your mind
  • taking a mini vacation by yourself
  • painting your house purple
  • selling your possessions and living in a camper
  • sending Mom a note, thanking her for raising you, stating that you are fully raised now and you have good sense and can go climb Mount Everest

If you haven’t read it yet, check out my first blog about Healthy Rebellion:

Contact Deborah