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Guidelines to Making it Work

We recommend that you reach out to a therapist, either individually, or as a couple, when going through hard times. They can help you find alternative ways of thinking, see other points of view, and be a more effective communicator. The following information is a great guideline to assist in most situations. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, or would like to get some help. We are here for you. There is hope.

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If you both want to give your relationship another go, these guidelines are recommended to be followed as closely and as often as possible. Remember that no one is perfect, and change doesn’t happen overnight. You didn’t get to this point in a week, and you shouldn’t expect the other person or yourself to be improved in such a short time either. Habits are hard to break, but there is hope.

First and foremost, the past is the past. Bringing it up again doesn’t help the present, and definitely won’t help the future. If the past is brought up, make it the good things, the happy times. Forgive each other for past indiscretions, imperfections, and problems. Remember that each day is a new day, and a chance to make yourself, the relationship, each other, and your life better.

Don’t name call. It belittles the other person and puts them on the defensive. It also continues to belittle the other person in your own mind.

If an argument begins, only bring up the facts. Don’t speculate, don’t presume, don’t assume. The only way to build trust back up is to begin trusting the other person and yourself again.
Build up your self-confidence, and help the other person build theirs up too. It makes for a more fulfilling relationship if you believe in yourself, your abilities, and each other.
Be honest and realistic about your expectations. Tell the other person what your expectations are of yourself, of the relationship, and of each other.

Remember why you fell in love in the first place. Bring up those happy memories and happy times. If you can’t think of any right now, it’ll come to you if you give yourself some time.

Let go of your anger toward the other person. It only hurts yourself by carrying it around and letting it bog you down. It’s like trying to poison the other person by tainting your own drink.

Keep your relationship between yourselves. If you bring in other people by complaining to them about your partner, then others will have a negative view of them, the relationship, and even of you. If you do need someone to vent to about your partner or their behavior, find someone that won’t influence the relationship. When you do talk about your partner to others, try to be positive.

Your inner voice directs a lot of your thoughts and behaviors. When you think about the other person, think about the good qualities, positive events, and hopes for the future. You’ll find that you’re generally a happier person if you do.

Don’t play the blame game. If there’s a problem that you can’t get past, then try to discuss it evenly. Use facts and “I feel” statements instead of “you” statements. For example, instead of “you always blame me for…”, say “it feels like I’m constantly being blamed for…”. There’s not a whole lot of difference in what was said, but a huge difference in the meaning behind it.

Try not to use the absolutes “always” and “never”. “I never get to…” “you always do…”. Instead, be realistic about the statements, “I haven’t been able to do…in a long time” “when I ask you to…it seems like a while before it gets done”. Again, it’s the meaning behind it.

I know this is a lot to take in, but if you both really want to make it work, or give it an honest to goodness try one last time, try to follow these guidelines. That way, if it does work out, you can feel really good about it. If it doesn’t end up working out, then you can honestly say that you tried your best.

One last suggestion is to be as neutral as possible to the child(ren), as far as the problems you are having. It’s not their fault that their parent(s) have gotten to this point, so it’s not fair to them to be involved or used as a weapon or tool. Every child needs their parental figures, and often take on a lot of personal blame when things aren’t going smoothly between them. Just remember how you felt when things weren’t going well for the parental figures in your own life. Minimize those negative feelings that they might be experiencing. If you both aren’t able to get along together, then be as civil toward each other as you can while around the child(ren). Don’t bad mouth the other person in their presence, and if someone else is, politely ask them to hold their tongue until the child(ren) isn’t around (or just plain not talk about the other person to you or the child(ren)).

There is no choice but to be ok.

My last post was about feeling crazy. Can you tell that things are getting to me? I always wonder whether I should put myself out there like that but then I think “What the hell? Nothing wrong with being honest.”
 
However, I don’t want to send the message that there is no answer. There is. For as terrible as mental illness, be it temporary, cyclic, seasonal, or permanent, there is always help and always hope. 
 
The tools available are endless but let me share the most powerful one I have. My greatest tool is the thought “There is no other choice but to be ok.”
 
There has never been an obstacle that has stayed an obstacle. There has never been a situation that is unendingly painful. Everything either ends or changes and there is hope and peace in that fact.
 
The desire to use an ED behavior passes. The baby stops screaming. The sun does come out. It might take months for these things to happen, but it does.
 
Change, unaided by my intervention, is something I trust, unequivocally. It is my greatest strength…and I have no influence on it! It’s great. There is nothing I can do to screw it up. It will happen with or without me. It’s a huge relief.
 
I should thank my bestie, Cat Jones Loveless, for that lesson. Thank you, sis! I would be very anxious and lost with out you and your truisms!
 
What is your greatest tool? What is your best thought?

 

To feel crazy…

Have you ever felt crazy? Like you couldn’t trust your own senses or assessment of reality?
 
There are many different ways to make it to that awful place. Motherhood. Anxiety. Eating disorders. Depression. The list goes on and on.
 
The results always seems to be the same. There are thoughts that don’t seem to belong to you, images flashing in your mind or emotions that do not match the situation. Sometimes you feel justified or even rational as these things are happening.
 
But then, it happens. The storm passes and you feel crazy. Nuts. Certifiable. Like it’s not hell enough to go through those moments. We have to through guilt, shame, inadequacy, self hatred, and fear on top of it.
 
Awesome, right?
 
Do you know what I am talking about? Do you ever feel this way?

Coping Skills: Reality and Expectations

How many times has a client walked into a therapists office, only to be disappointed by the conversation of coping skills. We have it all the time and sooooooooo many of my clients tell me they don’t work or that they can use them for a while but slip back into behaviors.

Why? Why does this happen? It’s a big cycle of failure and frustration.

First, let’s talk about expectations. We often want the coping skills we are using to have the same effect as the behavior we are trying to stop, like binging, purging, using, etc. Well, let me be the one to burst your bubble. Coping skills will not give you the same feeling that doing heroin and B&P does. They just won’t. If you are expecting to disappear for a while, like you do with a behavior, then you are doomed to disappointment.

Coping skills do, however, give you the ability do deal with and effectively address the trigger that made you want to use a behavior in the first place. In that way, coping skills actually address the problem at hand. They do not give you the vacation that you are looking for but they will help you solve the problem.

You have to have the correct expectations of coping skills.

 

And, second, you have to practice coping skills. As the name implies, they are skills. You have to learn them and get good at them. No one, anywhere, has ever just been a professional. It doesn’t just happen. You have to learn them and then practice them. It will take time, patience, motivation and all of those other things that allow you to learn.

 

Coping skills are not the magic trick we all hope for but they will allow you to live life on life’s terms. You will learn to let go of things you cannot control and manage the things you can. In doing so, you can find out your real strengths and purpose. It’s hard, but worth it.

Basics of Prioritizing

How often do you wish for more hours in a day? There is always so much to do. Another room to be cleaned, another deadline to be met. It never stops. 
 
Unfortunately, more time in the day would only make the problem worse. You would just take on more responsibility, expect more if yourself and others.
 
The only way to effectively have more time is to have less stuff to do. 
 
Answer this question: “If there were only 18 hours, how would my day be different?” What about 12 hours?
 
Those things you would be forced to put first are your priorities. Those are the things that matter to you.
 
Now, the real question is are those the things you want to be important?

 

Who likes “the process” of change?

No one.
 
The answer is no one.
 
Change is a huge, time consuming, emotionally draining process that everyone hates and no one wants to see.
 
We want a magic trick. We are all supposed to change and grow effortlessly and seamlessly. Whenever a problem arises, we are supposed to disappear into a cocoon somewhere and emerge perfectly transformed. This is true of so many things in life. 
 
Think about it. What does society, your family, or you expect? Poor people are supposed to just have money. Fat people are supposed to just be thin. Those with mental illness are supposed to just be fixed.
 
It’s an absurd standard and one that we should reject thoroughly. The process of change, especially purposeful change, takes a while and is very messy…but it’s a mess in which we should see beauty. 
 
We have to give others and ourselves time. We have to trust that they want to be happy and healthy. See absurd expectations for what they are and let yourself have your process. It is your right.

 

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