WELLth Summer 2017: Emilio Ortiz, Mental Health Counselor

WELLth Summer 2017: Emilio Ortiz, Mental Health Counselor

Emilio Ortiz, MA, LMHC of Hope For Life Counseling in Lakeland explains how life’s stumbling blocks can eventually become stepping stones by living one day at a time.


He was a very healthy 31-year-old that wouldn’t miss a day’s work if he didn’t have to — that’s just the way he was. He loved life, loved his wife of 14 years, and loved his kids, aged 11, 8, and 7. His weekends consisted of family time and church activities that he enjoyed to the fullest. One particular morning he went to work as usual, and as he was stepping out the door, he said bye to his family, reassuring them he’d be back...

They’re still waiting for his return.

A phone call at midmorning from the husband’s work changed this family’s life forever. An unexpected heart attack took his life at such a young age.

What do you do when, in reality, there’s nothing you can do? How do you react to life’s curveballs? And then, how do you deal with the feelings left behind — the “what if I would’ve” or the “I should’ve” thoughts? How do you shred leftover guilt, clear head confusion, or even find pure oxygen to simply breathe again?

Each week I meet families struggling with crisis, dealing with loss, or trying to be strong in the midst of serious adversity. This is the time in your life when you need to live one… day… at… a… time.

Here’s a few hints for you. Take personal inventory of the situation — the loss, the conflict, the changes that it will bring on your life as well as your family’s, the emotions that you are experiencing, etc. Know what you’re working with. In the process of doing so, consistently remind yourself that you will make it through. Don’t allow your mind to stay on the “I won’t be able to” phase for too long. Take control of what you allow yourself to believe, in reference to the situation or conflict ahead of you.

In a world where people live at a speed of 225 mph, allow yourself to reduce speed, reframe your thoughts, regain control of things and situations that threaten to rob your inner peace. Give yourself permission to understand that things won’t go back to “normal” again — yet you will be able to build a “new normal” in your life, with time, with faith, and personal effort. Things won’t be better tomorrow, and that’s OK, because they WILL BE better eventually.

Conflicts, tragedy, loss — they all have one thing in common: They produce changes. These changes may be both a good thing and a bad thing. However, they will bring the best out of you, and that is always good. You will see the strength that you thought you didn’t have, and you’ll experience the self-confidence that had probably been hiding for a while. After you’ve allowed yourself to go through all these phases, life will begin to make sense again, as you learn to deal and SLOWLY accept with your “new normal.”

Allow yourself professional help that will guide you step by step, as you make stepping stones out of life’s stumbling blocks.


Emilio Ortiz, MA, LMHC is a Licensed Psychotherapist (Bilingual) with 20 years in the field. He graduated Cum Laude from Interamerican University PR with a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. The first three years of his career, he served as a Psychotherapist and Family Interventionist in an Outpatient clinic in Puerto Rico. In 2000, he joined the Florida Department of Corrections where for 16 years, he served as  Psychotherapist to inmates of all backgrounds. During this time, he also served as Hostage Negotiator for Central Florida Prisons. In February 2016, Emilio opened his practice: HOPE FOR LIFE COUNSELING, LLC in Lakeland, FL; a Counseling Center dedicated to serve adults of all ages, couples, families, and children. For more info contact 863-588-7267 or emiliothecounselor@gmail.com