counseling

Be the Mirror

I know you’ve all heard the great Ghandi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.  And I whole heartedly believe it.  I believe that you have 8000 times more power to influence change when you’re doing it too!

But if you need one quote that packs a bit more punch to realize the power of influencing change, here it is: “If you want to be successful, focus on your own sh*t!”

We have to accept that our greatest power to influence change, especially in our relationships is by doing it first!

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.

PreCommunication

Precommunication is a funny term that I came up with years ago that has become a super helpful tool in couple’s therapy.  Precommunication is the communication that needs to happen right before you communicate.

Sounds silly, right?

But let me expand a bit.  Whenever you go into communication, you typically (aka always) have a vision of what you want to accomplish. Right?  But the problem is we rarely start conversation by sharing what we want to accomplish. Yes, we share what we want to talk about, but not necessarily the why. And sadly, we end up leaving the conversation feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. The implications of this have a huge impact on your intimate relationship.

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.

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.

Love on the Brain

I have a VERY eclectic musical taste.  From classic rock, to country to rap, I’m pretty much game to listen to anything.  And what I love about music is the place it takes you. Music has the amazing quality of helping us say the things we feel and think.  The stuff we can’t put words to.

And so much music is about love. New love. Old love. Brokenhearted love. Wounded love. Healing love.

Lately I’ve been so captivated by the lyrics of Rihanna’s song- “Love On The Brain” because I feel like she beautifully describes what it’s like to try and get close to someone in love.  Especially when you’re both struggling to be vulnerable.

Needing to Be Right Leaves Us Nowhere But Alone

I’d say the most common things couples call and ask for support around is communication.  Yes, intimacy and healing trust are close seconds, but the initial call is usually around communication.

And communication in and of itself is a tricky thing.  Because honestly, most communication is really up to interpretation…or perspective.  Unfortunately you aren’t built to be an accurate self observer and often times you leave a situation believing you were entirely right, when in fact your perspective has left you blinded to what really just went down.

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

Saying "I'm Sorry" vs. Asking for Forgiveness

I had the most amazing/eye opening conversation the other day and I simply had to share it.  It was this thought provoking discussion on the difference between saying “I’m sorry” versus asking for forgiveness.

As many of you know, I’ve worked hard to become a better apologizer in my own marriage.  As a middle child, I have some stubborn characteristics and admitting when I’m wrong is probably one of the places I’ve pushed myself to grow and change the most.  Because it’s honestly the place I’ve struggled the most.

Circumstantial Evidence

Are any of you into the crime shows?  I feel like I was so into them at a point that I started spouting off legal info without even knowing it.  One of my favorite terms was circumstantial evidence. You know, using conclusions connected together to create fact. There always seems to be great debate in crime shows about whether or not to use the circumstantial evidence to make an arrest, go to trial, look for a conviction, etc.

And although those shows are about courtroom dramas, we have a way of bringing that same chaos into our living rooms and our relationships.

Don't Make It Worse!

I love my kids to bits, but some days they are lunatics (remember I say this with love).  We’re deep in the parenting phase of “helping” them to become productive members of society.  Seriously this is what it feels like! 

One thing that seems to be rearing it’s ugly head is this phase of “not starting the issue, but equally contributing to making it worse”.  Any of you out there with kids older than mine, please don’t message me and tell me this phase never goes away (only kidding). 

I Need You To See Me

My toddlers are quickly becoming kids and will be starting Kindergarten this Fall. It’s truly hard for me to believe that they’ve grown so quickly and to realize the little people that they’re becoming in the world.

Their independence is fierce and their desire to figure things out on their own is becoming more and more hardwired.  I often find myself sitting on the sidelines, waiting for them to ask for help versus jumping in and doing like I did in those early years.

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.

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. 

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?

What’s Your Relationship Word?

In doing this exercise, I realized that my professional words for 2016 are the same as my personal.  Because in my marriage, I want to practice abundance.  I want to find the good, even when I’m in a sour mood. I want to slow down and show gratitude.  I want to focus on abundance because I want to be intentional about creating a large amount of love and joy around me.

The Danger in "Maybe Later".

Maybe later. How many times have you said this?  Or maybe you prefer in a minute; a close yet similar sentiment. If you're being honest, you probably say it more often than you'd like to admit.  And who hasn’t! 

It’s not usually intentional.  It’s really because we ALWAYS have demands on our time. A tad dramatic, sure, but there’s really no end to the projects, assignments and to-do lists, we swear we "just need to finish" before we can focus on the people right in front of us.

Love: Oil Change or Engine Rebuild?

You know that sticker on the upper left hand corner of your windshield…..the one that reminds you  to get your oil changed.  Well… do you use that sticker as a way to track your next date of service, or do you glance up every now and again, shout an “oh sh*t” and race to the nearest Jiffy Lube realizing you’re 5,000 miles overdue?

Funny enough, these two responses are really similar to how couples approach their relationships.  The oil change couples versus the engine rebuild couples. 

Let me explain….

Finding Your Breath.

As a wife, a mom of busy 2.5 year old twins and a small business owner, seeking balance and stress relief seems to be the task du jour.  The days that I’m home with the kids are a mixture of pure joy and wondering if I’m doing it right.  The days I’m at work as a psychotherapist are a combination of witnessing really amazing and impactful healing in the lives of my clients, but also bearing witness to the pain and injuries that families, couples and relationships endure.

I'm Sorry, Sort Of...

I'm really sorry that I was a jerk, but you know what you did forced me to act that way, and in the future if you don't act like that, I won't either.

Have you ever received an apology like this? You know the one that starts with "I'm sorry" and ends with minimizing and justifying the actions that just occurred.