Sometimes I share links that I believe deliver an powerful and important message. I urge you to read this.
I have been working in the mental health/addictions/human sexuality for field for over 20 years. I have counseled hundreds of individuals and couples, as well as facilitated hundreds of groups. For nearly 10 years prior to this I was in my own process of learning, growing, and overcoming many years of depression and low self-esteem. I worked with counselors, attended 12 step and support groups, kept a journal, and read many self-help books. Am I cured or immune from all my old thinking, beliefs, and behaviors? No I am not. Am I much better at maintaining a more positive and realistic frame of mind? I certainly am.
During the past couple of years I have posted many helpful ways of looking at life and managing feelings and the events we encounter. I hope this information has helped the thousands of people who have viewed my blog. But, offering this information and making suggestions is much easier that applying these things to my own life. I do a pretty good job for the most part maintaining balance in my life and my emotions. Am I able to apply these each and every day to each and every hurdle I encounter? The truth is that sometimes it isn’t so easy to reach into my bag of tricks and I experience the anxiety, anger, and depression that we all do. I don’t always remember the things I know. I have human experiences just like everyone else.
One way I benefit from all the work I’ve done on myself is that any emotional upheaval I experience is not as deep or long lasting as it once was. It is much easier to find my center once again. The things I suggest in my blog as well as ways to see the world which make it easier to manage are things I apply in my own life. Many people I know and many of my clients use what they have learned working with me. I have seen amazing changes in my life and in the lives of many others over the years. It took applying what we have learned consistently and being persistent. If you have the desire to improve and change your life you can. It takes time to change.
Have you ever been told that you engage in self-sabotage or self-destructive behavior? For those of us who have been told this, it can be very confusing and frustrating. Others appear to be able to identify our patterns of behavior that cause issues in our lives. They also prevent us from having a meaningful and fulfilling life. These behaviors are habitual and come from a place outside of our awareness. Our life seems to be going just fine and seemingly out of the blue things fall apart. This can happen in one or many areas of our lives.
Others tell us that we are creating the barriers that keep us from having good relationships, stable finances, and other success in our lives. We find it difficult or impossible to identify what we do wrong. This causes us to blame and become victims of one thing or person or another. The result is depression, anxiety, the inability to have relationships, poor self esteem, and feelings of shame. The first step to overcoming any issue is to identify the problem. But, you must first overcome your fear of confronting the issues and changing.
There is a constant conversation in our heads. These are the thoughts that create what meaning we give things and how we feel. Our behavior is based on this process. We all learn how to navigate life by watching the adults in our lives when we are children. As child, we develop of our beliefs about ourselves, others, what to expect from the world, as well as our expectations of others. Be us and doing things how we do things is the only way we know how to be. Unless we are exposed to and open to exploring alternative thinking and/or behavior we are unable to change. We repeat the same behaviors again and again.
The best way I have found to identify the thought patterns that drive our behavior is to keep a journal. There are two goals. The first goal is to increase awareness of that conversation in our head that I mentioned earlier and paying attention to it. The second goal is identifying thoughts or meanings that may not be valid or stand in our ways. These two steps afford you the opportunity for find alternative thinking and behavior. I have found this process is extremely effective.
Working with a counselor or coach can vastly increase the likelihood of very important improvements in the quality of our lives. Give it a try. You have nothing to loose and everything to gain.
To be continued……………………………..
It is important communicate directly, clearly, and honestly. Sarcasm, manipulation, and passive aggressive behavior have no place in a truly healthy relationship. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t criticize your partner. If they say or do something that bothers or hurts you, express your feelings about it. For example: “When you raise your voice at me I get scared.” “When I am speaking to you I sometimes feel you aren’t listening.”
These were just a few tips that could go a long way toward improving your relationship.
When we first meet someone most of us tend to be pretty open about whom we are, our likes and dislikes, as well as our sexual preferences. After all, we have nothing to lose and can easily move on to another potential partner. I have observed over the years that couples tend to become less open and honest about their feelings, thoughts, or desires because of potential conflict or being judged by their partner. Over time they have more and more of an investment in the relationship and more and more to lose.
They eventually get into a pattern of being whom or what they think their partner wants them to be and hide who they really are. They are not intentionally deceiving their partner. They are, “not wanting to hurt them” or “avoiding a potential fight” or “they won’t understand.” They take the path of less resistance. In fact, this attitude and belief places barriers to communication and intimacy. This is very destructive to the relationship and lays a foundation of false security and can be very manipulative (even if that is not the intention). Ultimately it is disrespectful of the partner and the relationship.
It can be very difficult to maintain vulnerability with a partner and risk being judged by someone who’s opinion of us is extremely valuable to us. But, in order for relationships to continue to grow and be healthy both partners need to take the more difficult path and stay open and honest even if we are certain our partner will react in a less than positive manner. Without the facts, you and your partner will be unable to explore differences and resolve conflicts. You just pretend.
When couples come for counseling, all the things that were unsaid, all the anger and resentment that grew over time shocks, surprises, hurts, and angers the partners. They find out all the things they never knew. It is far easier to deal with these issues as the surface than having them all dumped at one time.
My advice to couples is to stay honest and open and vulnerable. If your partner is to have a relationship with and love you, then make sure it is you they see and not some version of you that you are trying to project. Who you are is good enough whether your partner agrees with you or not.
The biggest problem couples seem to have lies in communication. Being able to engage in open, honest, and effective communication is central to maintaining a healthy and rewarding relationship. Mis-communication increases conflict and stress and can ruin relationships. Listening and understanding what your partner is saying is crucial to good communication. It is helpful to reflect back to your partner your understanding of what they say. “What you said was…….. Is that correct?” Make sure what they intended to communicate is what you understand. Make sure they understand what you are trying to communicate. This will go a long way toward decreasing unnecessary conflicts.
If you believe communication is problem in your relationship add this simple step. It will help you and your parent be more effective communicating with each other and improve your relationship.