Sacramento

Decisions Made in Places of Pain = No Good

I love working on and in relationships. It’s amazingly rewarding work and there is nothing more humbling to see a couple grow back together right in front of your eyes.

And yet, when most couples reach out, they’re in a place of pain.  I’d love for my work to be much more preventative, but the reality is that most people come to couple’s therapy when they’re hurting. 

Quieting the Noise

One term that I use all of the time in the couple’s therapy room is about the “noise” we get stuck in during communication.  And when I say “noise”, I don’t mean this dismissively, I mean it from a place of understanding.  Because I get caught in the “noise” in my relationship too. 

So what do I mean when I say “noise”?  Well, it’s the stuff flying around in your relationship that has NO relevance to what you really need to be talking about and yet it continually come up and distracts you from having the real conversation.  It’s the stuff that becomes so circular that you end up confused how you got there but you’re fired up and can’t seem to let it go. It’s the unproductive stuck places that don’t create repair or resolution.

Is Couples Therapy Where Relationships Go To Die?

I realize the title of this post may sound really intense, but it’s a question that I get asked more often than you’d think.  And quite honestly it’s a valid question because it’s a real fear that many couples have. One that actually prevents them from asking for help.

And sadly, the longer couples put off asking for help, the longer they live in pain.  Really unnecessary pain. 

According to researcher and world renowned couples therapist, John Gottman, couples wait an average of 6 years being unhappy before they reach out for help….SIX YEARS!  Let that sink in for a bit.  Can you imagine the resentment that can build in that time? (Some of you are reading this, nodding along and saying, “um, yes, that’s my life!”)

And really there’s no reason to wait.  Couples therapy is a gift that we give to our relationship.  A gift of hope.  A gift of healing.  A gift of creating a fresh start.

Losing Our Needs

I’d say that 99.99% of all arguments are based on unmet needs.  Yes, even the ones about chewing too loud or forgetting to take out the garbage can be narrowed down to some attachment need not being met in the relationship.

And I realize that may sound like an intense overgeneralization, but if you really slow down to think about it, it’s sort of true.  Whether it’s our need for safety, belonging, acceptance or unconditional love, it all comes back to an attachment need.

And yet one of the hardest things in love is actually learning how to communicate our needs. We’re honestly really crappy about it. And it’s understandable, because communicating our needs is really, really vulnerable. And most of us don’t do vulnerability well.

Priorities Reveal Themselves

A reoccurring theme in my office and life in general is this running against the clock, fast paced, we have no time to do what we know we need to be doing pace.

And no one is immune to it. We all struggle with juggling our time and sadly the things that we say are the most important can often get placed much too low on the priority list.  And sometimes we can feel lost or stuck on how to reverse the order.

I work with couples every day that find themselves months and years down the road of not connecting, not spending intentional time together and not prioritizing their partnership. And they’re not bad people. They’re couples that were trying their best doing all the wrong things when it comes to nurturing their love relationship.

Messages in Water

Has anyone heard of the book Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto?  It’s a few years old, but I’m so darn fascinated by it.  The whole premise of the book (spoiler alert) is scientifically demonstrating how “the influence of our thoughts, words and feelings on molecules of water can positively impact the earth and our personal health”.

Which to some may sound absolutely nutty but I swear it’s completely fascinating. Mr. Emoto shares about how negative words can literally change the molecular make up of water.  Pretty much mutating the molecules.  And he shows how positive words and feelings can enhance the molecular make up of water making it “super” water.

Earning the Right to be Heard

So before you read any further, I need to prepare you that this blog post may make your blood boil.  Because honestly the first time I heard the statement I’m writing this post about, my blood boiled. But stick with me for a second.

Now we all know that we live in a day and age that is full of distractions.  Most conversations resemble merging onto the freeway in the middle of rush hour. You know where you’re paying so much attention to try and dart into traffic that you are aware of little else.  It’s quite horrible that we’ve lost our ability to slow down and actually converse.

Me Too Syndrome

Have you ever walked into the house after a long day and tried to get support from your mate, only to hear, “me too”?  Or you’re trying to share about a concern or need in the relationship and your partner responds with “me too”?

It sucks, right?  Not that you don’t want to hear your mate’s feelings, but when you’re trying to share, “me too” is a big shut down. 

And as much as your partner is trying in the moment, there is nothing worse than looking for support and hearing “me too”.  Because despite it’s best efforts, “me too” leaves you feeling more alone than you’d like to admit. 

I Hope You Know.

I Hope You Know.

I was sitting with a friend at lunch the other day, with a perfect view of the walking path and park.  A sweet little toddler and her dad were walking and for whatever reason she started getting frustrated (we all know how toddlers are) and the dad got on his knee, slowed down and started to calm whatever frustration baby girl was struggling with. My friend turned to me and quietly said, “I hope he knows how important he is to her…he’s her whole world.”

Her words took my breath away, because it’s so true. 

And so today, in honor of Father’s Day this month. I want to remind all of the fathers, uncles, grandpas, and best friends….You SO make a difference.  And I HOPE you know how important you are.  You see we model relationships after what we see. NOT what we hear, NOT what we believe, but what we SEE.  And the most important relationships we SEE are those that are right in front of us. 

I know you’ve all heard me say this before, but I believe that you can model very healthy relationships to your children, even if you’re divorced or separated. The determining factor is how You show up. Are you respectful? Are you kind? Do you think two steps ahead of how your words/actions/behaviors potentially injuring others? 

Your ability to positively impact your children is not determined by whether or not you stay married. It’s determined by how you treat each other.

And the role model of a father is hugely important. I know that many men see their primary job as provider. And I’m not here to argue or dispute that. The intention of this blog post is to inspire those fathers that discount the important role they play in their children’s lives or think their presence is best served by sitting on the sidelines. 

My encouragement to you is to get in the game.

You are a vital part of your children’s lives and every moment that you’re there, championing them, supporting their mom, building up their self-esteem, encouraging their successes and unconditionally loving on them as they fail has a tremendous ripple effect on their future relationships.

No matter how small the moment is, take it.  No matter how silly it may seem, slow down.  No matter how worried, stressed or scared you are, know that you have the ability to reassure the little ones in your life.

And no matter what, I hope you know how important you are. 

Happy Father’s Day from one really appreciative mom.

Yours,

A

916.955.3200 or info@lifeunscriptedcounseling.com

Trying Doesn't Guarantee Success

I hate making mistakes.  I know that’s an odd way to start a blog post, but it’s the truth.  I don’t like making mistakes and I really don’t like letting others down.

But as a wife, mom and business owner I’ve learned that I do let people down.  It’s not intentional. I’m not trying to disappoint or drop the ball.  And yet it still causes hurt.  

I’m (still) working to accept that I’ll continue to let others down, especially those that matter the most.  Because at the end of the day, I’m only human.  And being human means that I can only do so much, be so much and try so much.

Acceptance Is Harder Than We Think

Do you remember the trend a number of years ago that was focused on “tolerance”?  I don’t know about you, but that campaign always drove me a bit crazy because honestly, the word “tolerance” kind of drives me a bit crazy.  It feels like one of those words that is cloaked with disdain when you say it.

I guess my biggest issue with the word, “tolerance” is that it feels like a half assed way to accept someone.  We know that in love, our greatest need is to be unconditionally accepted by our mate.  Yes this can be a lot harder to do than you realize. Often times you end up “tolerating” aspects of your partner rather than accepting all of who they are…unconditionally.

Fighting For Each Other or Fighting Each Other?

We’re in our intimate relationship for a reason.  Hopefully reasons.  And despite all the amazing reasons.…sometimes we need to take a step back to be sure we’re really fighting for each other and not accidentally fighting each other.

I believe in love, both personally and professionally, and sincerely believe that there are SO many reasons we should fight to make our relationships work.  (Side note: I also think that there are some reasons not to fight to make relationships work…but I digress).

The Gap Between Our Ideal Marriage And Our Actual Marriage.

Social media is a phenomenon that I find endlessly fascinating.  It’s amazing the “version” of your friend’s relationship you can buy into if you’re only going off their Instagram pics.  It can create this growing pressure to put out your own polished version of love and while also rattling your confidence in your real relationship.

 

You see, when you look around, people are usually sharing examples of ideal relationships, not what they really look like behind closed doors. Whether it’s social media, movies or your own internal expectations, there can often be a gap between your ideal marriage and your actual one.

Peak to Peak Principle

Picture yourself standing on one peak and being able to easily see the other peak in the distance. Now begin making your way from one peak to the other.  As you dip into the valley, you begin to lose sight of the peak you’re heading towards.  As you descend, the fog thickens, the trees become taller and denser. You try your best, but despite all you’re looking up, you can hardly see the peak you’re walking to any longer.  You begin to feel defeated and slow your pace, wondering if you’re even going the right direction.  You begin to doubt yourself and even wander off course.  Eventually you decide to just sit and wait for the rescue party, because it’s not worth trying on your own.  You’ve completely lost perspective of where you needed to be headed.

 

Are You Making Decisions Based On Your Past Or Present?

I’ve been diving into all sorts of different learning these past few months and challenging myself to learn from other helpers and healers, not just other therapists.  In order to be the most dynamic helper to the folks I work with, I feel it’s my role to also challenge myself to hear other voices and perspectives, especially when it comes to all things love.

 

I was watching a webinar by a woman who does energy healing through flower essences…(told you I was expanding my learning)….and she was sharing about this continual pattern we get stuck in of making decisions based on the past, not the present. 

What If We’re Just Broken Together?

There’s this beautiful song by Casting Crowns, Broken Together, that I can’t stop listening to.  There’s so many messages in the song, but the one I can’t shake is this beautiful message of being able to last forever because we’re broken together.

 

Holy powerful song folks (I linked it at the bottom).

 

I believe that we live in a culture that glorifies wholeness to a fault.  It leads you to believe that the only way things last, is if they’re perfect.  That damage, pain, betrayal, injury are things that you can’t ever heal in love. 

 

Are You Free Of Clutter In Love?

Spring is in the air and it’s that fun time of year when I start to go through closets and drawers to create some extra breathing room. I’m a big believer in getting rid of the old in order to allow space for the new to come into your life.  And with my home and office being “lightened” of stuff, it makes me think about all of the areas of life we hang onto things.  Can we be cluttered in love?

If Something Is No Longer Serving You In Love......Why Do You Keep Doing It?

Love is a crazy thing. I’ve been doing this work for over a decade and I’m still fascinated, intrigued and inspired by it.  At times love can feel so simple and clear while the next it feels confusing and scary.  Love pushes us to be honest, to be vulnerable, to be intimate, to forgive and to self-reflect.  And friends, that’s not always the easiest thing.

 

One of the more intriguing things in love is this habit you get into of continuing a pattern or behavior, long after it’s served it’s purpose.  Couples share with me all the time in my Sacramento therapy office about so desperately wanting things to be different, to change, to grow, but are so unsure or defeated of how to get it to change.

Does Anger Make You Dependent On Others?

Anger is truly a dynamic feeling. It’s one of those feelings that you’re regularly denying exists, stuffing it down til it boils over or struggling to let go.

 

What’s so fascinating about anger is the longer you hold onto it, the more dependent you become on the other person, and not in a good way.

 

Let me expand on this for a second. 

Mud On The Tires

I grew up in a small farming town in California and my Dad used to always say “Never trust a farmer with clean boots”.  His theory was real work means we’re gettin’ a little muddy.

               

With that being said, it isn’t surprising that I married a hard working boy from Northern Idaho or that country music makes me nostalgic for home.  Or that the site of muddy boots always makes me smile.