Archive for: Relationships

Innovative, Creative, and Inspiring

Innovative, creative, and inspiring are tags used to search for videos on TED.com, the source for videos on almost anything. While it is nice to find something something funny to watch while you are at work, here are some videos that might spark your attention in the “tag” areas. Check them out:

Sarah Kay
“How many lives can you live?”
https://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kay_how_many_lives_can_you_live
Sarah Kay uses two spoken-word poems to explain her love/hate relationship with living one life. She shares her hope to rush and hear everyone’s stories and to share her story so that she can see life through another person’s frame of reference as many times as she can, so as to not miss out on anything that others have to offer. Sarah ends her talk with another spoken-word poem about the power of experience and living lives of our own and of others in a special way.


Ash Beckham
“We are all hiding something. Let’s find the courage to open up.”
https://www.ted.com/talks/ash_beckham_we_re_all_hiding_something_let_s_find_the_courage_to_open_up
Ash Beckham discusses the closets that keep us from opening up and sharing our story. The story that makes us shut the door to the closet of secrets and pushes others away. Although she tells her own story of having a hard conversation about who she was to a little girl in a diner, Ash sends an important message about connection. That message is that the safety of covering up secrets and hiding from owning our story scares us into believing that we are alone. What we are is different and unique, but we are never alone in our struggles.

“All a closet is… is a hard conversation.”  –Ash Beckham

 

Colin Stokes
“How movies teach manhood”

http://www.ted.com/talks/colin_stokes_how_movies_teach_manhood#t-46850
Colin Stokes uses two classic movies, The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars, to illustrate the differences between masculine and feminine ideals presented by mainstream video media that play continuously throughout a child’s upbringing. These ideals in the form of movie protagonists in Disney and Pixar films can be masculine or feminine, but the message of courage transcends much deeper than hero or heroine. Stokes challenges parents to see the journey of the movies to show children themes that are more impactful and universal than fighting the bad guy or saving the princess; they involve friendships, self-discovery, and teamwork.

Erika McCaghren

Tough Talks

Communication is the key to happiness where relationships are concerned. Both individuals in a committed and loving relationship should feel free to speak openly about anything. For difficult subjects it is important to say what’s on your mind in the spirit of compassion, love, and tolerance. Some topics are certainly easier than others. Here are a few of the most difficult:

  • Your feeling that your partner spends too much money
  • Your need to spend more time together
  • Your sexual preferences
  • Your partner’s sexual likes and dislikes
  • Your need to privacy
  • Your negative feelings about your partner’s family
  • Your partner’s personal cleanliness
  • Your partner’s bad habits
  • Your worst fears
  • Your past relationships

When approaching a difficult subject it may be best to start like this:

This is difficult for me. I want to talk about something and I think it’s important. But I think it’s a hard thing to talk about. Is now a good time to talk? I want to talk when you want to talk. It’s about ____________.

Five things you can do for your marriage now. Number two. The three A’s.

The ability to change course in the middle of a fight is a powerful relationship skill. Most people do not have it. We can be so predictable in our arguments, so petty! Talk about the three A’s when you are both calm and relaxed. Practice them. That way you’ll be ready to use them as the antidote if your talk turns poisonous.

It’ll take a little courage to use them the first time. Someone is going to feel vulnerable. Do them in sequence. It should only take a minute. You can even preface by saying Okay, this is not working. I’m going to do a triple A.

Apology
Affection
Action

Apology — Take ownership for your part of the argument. Be honest. You’re trying to change the energy of the argument. Don’t take the easy way out by saying something like I’m sorry you’re being such a jerk.

Affection — As soon as you’ve apologized for your part in the argument, move towards your spouse. Offer a hug, a kiss, or reach out in some affectionate physical way.

Action — Pledge to take some sort of action. It’s better talk about something that you will do rather than something that you won’t do. I will treat you with respect is better than I will not call you names. Either way, follow through is the most important thing.

Domestic Violence Against Men

Men tend to be silent about the abuse they suffer because of the perception that the man is able to defend and subdue an attack because of his size, weight, and strength. Men are embarrassed to admit they are living this way and if they do, they receive very little support from the police or the court system. There are very few shelters that accept men and even most women’s shelters will not accept children over the age of 13.

Men who do report physical violence are more likely to be ridiculed by the police and the public. Society has a hard time believing that a woman could physically overcome a man and hurt him but more often than not, she will attack when he is asleep or in some other vulnerable position and with a weapon! Because of a lack of funding and the absence of men reporting their abuse, there has been very little research on domestic violence against men by women. It is the common belief that women only hit when they are trying to defend themselves and that it is much easier for a man to leave the relationship than the woman. It’s not that easy for a man to leave, especially if there are children involved.

How to Apologize the Right Way

Why are apologies important?

 

We are human. We make mistakes. We say the wrong thing, we do the wrong thing. We are imperfect by design. We will inevitably mess up (some more frequently than others) and hurt those we care about. For this reason, it’s crucial that individuals in loving relationships know how to offer and accept apologies.

 

Is there a wrong way to apologize?

 

Absolutely.  Apologies that shift blame to the other person, for example, aren’t really apologies at all. Politicians do this all the time. The say: “if you were offended by what I said, then I am sorry…” I interrupt clients, stop them in their tracks, when I hear an if-then apology in couples counseling. These types of pseudo-apologies actually make matters worse. They are confusing and put both individuals in a defensive posture.

 

What’s wrong with that? Someone said sorry, right? It’s that enough?

 

No. An apology is not a part of an argument as to whether or not an action is justified. It is not an invitation to more analysis and debate. An apology is a white flag, an invitation to the end of hostilities.

 

So what’s the right way to apologize?

 

It’s not complicated. Two people are involved. Turn off the TV. Take a break from Facebook-ing or Pinterest-ing or texting. An apology done right takes about two minutes. The apologizer talks, the listener listens. When the apologizer has stopped talking, they switch roles. Then it’s over. Hug it out.

 

Any key phrases?

 

Some of my clients have been married a long time. Maybe the come in to see me when they hit a rough patch after twenty years of marriage. Maybe they’re seeking help adjusting to life without the kids in the house. These people have learned how to apologize over the years. Here’s something I hear from them: “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” Notice the period at the end of the sentence. It’s important. I think this phrase has sustained many couples through the years.

Releasing Fear

There are challenges, conflicts and crisis that are an inevitable part of being human. In these times of difficulty we can become overwhelmed by our emotions, fear, shame, anger, disappointment, and sorrow as a result of living through these experiences. The emotional responses can be as painful as any physical injury or illness. They may cause us to feel that life is dangerous and out-of-control.  The psychological pain experienced during periods of loss or trauma can be so uncomfortable that we may become numb. Our emotions shutdown and the results are often described as a feeling of detachment from oneself or others.

 

During periods of difficulty like the loss of a loved one, financial loss, physical injury or decline, breakup of relationships, or job loss, we often find ourselves beginning to feel that the world is an unsafe place. A common response to this anxiety and fear is to become more and more controlling or passive within our own lives, feeling like we have less power and control. Most people have some sort of major loss by the time they’re in their early thirty’s. Given the commonality of these events, the majority of the population is reporting some level of stress or anxiety. Anxiety symptoms include irritability, feelings of being on edge, excessive worry, fatigue, and physical distress in the chest or stomach. These symptoms can be slight or become debilitating.

 

The brain protects the body from what is considered to be more pain than can be processed effectively by denial and shock. The shutting down process allows us time to process. These coping mechanisms are intended to be temporary, survival strategies. At times the body does not reset itself after a traumatic event and therefore the fear last for years. The brilliant human beings that we are sometimes get stuck. The system that manages and regulates a body’s response to danger sends messages to the body to prepare for run, or fight in defense. Getting stuck often feels like we are unable to relax, adrenaline pumps, the heart pounds, and awareness of the environment is heightened.  Feelings of anxiety or nervousness become common during situations that are not dangerous but feel dangerous as a result of the body not resetting after difficult events.  The discomfort in experiencing the event is usually very short lived in comparison to the duration of the pain experienced by anxiety and fear we carry on for years after these events have passed.

 

 

Humans are resilient beings who are built for surviving and recovery. So what is it that goes wrong? We don’t bounce back or we are unable to move on after tragedy in our lives.  As Franklin Roosevelt said “there is nothing to fear but fear itself.” What he meant by this is that it is actually the fear that does the most damage, not the events themselves. The challenge in releasing or facing these fears is that humans are often under the impression that being afraid of things is helpful to them, protecting them from future harm. However, fear results in anxiety, worry, and potential increased depression as we try to control the circumstances or the responses of others. The result of becoming guarded, and waiting for the other shoe to drop, is that feelings of anxiety and fear increase and people begin to feel worse not better.

 

So what could we do to feel better? The simple answer is to start releasing the fear. Letting go of fear and the feeling of guardedness is usually great relief if one can give permission to do so. How do we release the fear? First, it’s important to remember that the concept of fear is designed to keep us safe from dangerous situations. It is in the generalizing of feeling afraid that we get ourselves into trouble. Therefore, to begin getting out of fear is crucial to understanding that there is more to be gained by feeling good than being guarded.  As we learn to release our fear by letting go a piece at a time, we are free to love and to find more joy in life. The key is recognizing that when we are afraid of the unknown we are practicing the state of worry instead of the state of hopefulness.  In reaching for a feeling of hope and releasing the feeling of dread, we become open and available to opportunities we may not see while being fearful. Developing the spirit of curiosity about what’s next helps reduce the worry that it is going to be something bad.  There are many wonderful new experiences ahead for each person who is willing to leave behind feelings of fear and face the future.

 

 

Torie Sullivan, LPC

How Well Do You Connect to Your Partner?

While there are multiple reasons couples seek professional help for their relationship, often an underlying issue is that they no longer feel connected with one another in at least one of the following areas. Take a moment to honestly answer these questions regarding your partner:

1. Intellectual: Can this person connect with me intellectually?
2. Emotional: Can this person understand/handle my emotions? Do I feel comfortable sharing my emotions with my partner?
3. Spiritual: Does this person share or respect my spiritual/non-spiritual beliefs?
4. Chemistry: Does it feel natural and enjoyable to be in each other’s physical presence?
5. Lifestyle: How comfortable do I feel and function in my partner’s “world”? (Culture, eating habits, sleeping patterns, cleanliness, health, social habits, hobbies, etc.?)

If you find yourself doubting or rationalizing your answers…if something doesn’t feel “right”, then you probably won’t be satisfied and happy in a long term relationship with your partner. Often people start relationships connecting in only a few of these five ways such as enjoying similar social habits, a physical attraction or idealizing a professional achievement. However, over time, if all five of these connections aren’t satisfied, it can often leave someone wondering what went wrong, when actually the problem is that they didn’t find someone who satisfied all of their connection needs to begin with. Before you make any decision to enter into or end a relationship, make an appointment to see one of our professional counselors to explore your feelings and expectations about your relationship. We will be able to help you make an informed decision about the right direction to take.

The holiday “blahs”

With the holiday season and winter months fast approaching, feelings and symptoms of depression will often surface or increase. Feeling “down in the dumps” or “blah”, sad, discouraged, hopeless, irritable, cranky, or easily frustrated are typical symptoms of depression. Also feeling withdrawn, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities, changes in appetite, sleep, energy, difficulty concentrating, and making decisions are commonly reported. A sense of feeling worthless or excessive guilt may be experienced. Some of these feelings may actually interfere with our relationships, school, job, social activities, and even day to day functioning. If you experience a few or most of these symptoms it is wise to pay attention to what your body is telling you and to take care of yourself.

Often people minimize or don’t understand depression and the possible effects of going untreated. Working with a mental health professional can help you understand depression and learn multiple ways to manage its symptoms. Regardless of the season, feeling better means living better!

 

Erika McCaghren

Feel Better, Live Better

We all have many “wants” in life – but most of us share one simple “want” in common: Happiness.

It’s a lifetime quest for many, especially here in the United States. Americans, ironically, number among the most anxious people in the world. We tend to view happiness as an art, the result of luck or sheer willpower. Meanwhile, many of us live with an angry lion perched right outside our door.

Anxiety may be easier to spot in others. When it comes to ourselves, we may chock it up to insomnia, irritability or poor health. But it’s important to know that about 1 in every 35 people in the United States experiences generalized anxiety, according to annual diagnosis rates.

That’s a lot of unnecessary suffering, and it’s also important to know that there is nothing wrong with you if you do live with anxiety.

Anxiety is a normal, primal human response. It’s an instinct that kept our ancestors safe from predators and empowered them as they protected the most vulnerable members of their families.

We’ve come a long way since then, but our brains and our bodies don’t know the difference. Modern-day life can leave you feeling as if that angry lion is perpetually ready to pounce.  Today, we may not experience that as conscious fear. We’re more likely to describe it as stress, nervousness, embarrassment, poor planning skills, emotional pain, obsessive thoughts, pounding heart, headaches, sweating, difficulty swallowing, muscle tension, persistent worry, an inability to relax or trouble sleeping.

Few people experience all of the above. But for many of us, the lion is just outside the door when it comes to work, health, finances, marriage or our children.

While we know the ancient origins of anxiety, the reasons we experience it today are very individualistic but rather straightforward. Genetics, childhood experiences and traumatic events can each lead to anxiety – in the moment – or later in life. For some people, one factor is enough to trigger anxiety. For others, it may be all three.

Of course, we all know people who are seemingly immune to anxiety, regardless of life circumstances. We admire their emotional strength and society holds them up as heroes. Because of that, many of us who live with anxiety instead deny it even to ourselves – or live with it in shame and in secret.

There is an option: Anxiety is highly treatable. Among the first steps are to recognize it, stop resisting it and accept it – to accept ourselves.

You are not to blame for how you feel. Our lives truly are increasingly chaotic and demanding, with Americans working longer hours than ever in competitive atmospheres that can destroy confidence.  Do you have family members who deal with nervousness and anxiety? That could be an indication of a family history. And of course, if you experienced trauma and did not have the opportunity to deal with it, it may be dealing with you.

Research has found that therapy is the most effective solution to anxiety because it goes beyond treating the symptoms and identifies the causes. It is tailored to the individual and comes with lifelong benefits: building coping and problem-solving skills, finding balance, developing relaxation techniques – and it is achieved in a supportive and accepting environment.

As a therapist, I have treated anxiety for decades and have found that a genuine, warm, collaborative atmosphere results in a sense of empowerment, clarity and a path forward. It is a privilege to be invited into someone’s process of healing and change – and together – learn what anxiety is saying to us and what it has to teach us.

Don’t let that angry lion pace outside your door. You have the power to send it away and to live a productive, anxiety-free life – a life you can describe, quite simply, as “happy.”

 

Sharon Nelson, LCSW

 

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