This has been a rough year. I don’t know if there is another way to summarize our collective reality. As people living within the United States, we are often sheltered from the reality of how little we actually can control in life. We are now forced to question the reality that we once knew.
My intent is not to be really intense right now. At the same time, we are living in a very intense season and everyone has been talking about the struggle to cope. This struggle is universally felt as we move through the 2020 holiday season.
So what do we do? First, I believe that we start with accepting our reality. We are at war. The war that we have, in this nation, of being against one another is an illusion. The true war that we face is a fight for our sanity and to maintain our humanity. We’re in a mess.
Once we have accepted our reality for what it is, the next trap, that blocks our growth, is usually judgment. It is very easy to see a problem and start attributing blame to someone or something. We could do that, but it will not solve anything. There is another move we can take. We can take responsibility.
I cannot fix the issues that our country is facing. No one person has the ability to do that. But what I can do is find appropriate moves towards accepting responsibility for what I can control and hopefully finding some grace for us all.
To make the shift in finding appropriate levels of responsibility, I imagine that I am living 1,000 years ago, and my community is being attacked by invaders. When our community is under attack, we should not gear most of our resources and efforts in developing prettier pottery or planting more fields of flowers. Priorities should shift in seasons of war. We make pottery for it’s utilitarian functions and plant in our fields what is necessary for survival.
Humans have not changed much in 1,000 years. We still need to adjust our methods of self-care to reflect what’s happening in the here-and-now. My self-care has shifted from having get-togethers with friends and attending zumba to communicating new limitations, giving myself space to grieve my losses, and creating new playlists to help me remain focused on my goals. My hope for you is that you give yourself permission to adjust your self-care strategies.
In addition to adjusting our self-care strategies for survival, we have to find ways to guard the precious simple pleasures of life that remind us why we fight. Simple pleasures include hearing a baby laugh, seeing a flower in an unexpected spot, watching a sunrise, or helping a turtle cross the road. These are simple things that are worth fighting for and worth enjoying.
Be adaptive. Adjust your self-care strategies, and don’t forget to stop and enjoy simpler pleasures. We can do this. We have done it before, and we can do it again. Best wishes to you all.
There is so much to say. As I reflect on hearing people discuss their hardships and successes with 2019, I am also aware that there has been a lot of reflection on the past ten years. There have been ups and downs, which as we know are part of life. I also realize that a lot has happened in our community and our nation as we take this time to reflect and, for some, find things to celebrate.
The thing that I guess is really important for me to say is that we are all having so many big experiences. Some of these experiences are so grand and lovely while others are full of conflicting emotions or feelings of being overwhelmed. Whatever you are experiencing… whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate. It’s okay.
There is too much pressure this time of the year to feel or experience “this” thing or “that” thing. It’s okay to have a different experience. Please also be mindful of your neighbors in life. If possible, could you allow someone else’s experience to be “okay” even if it is different from yours? I’m not sure that we are always able to allow this kind of acceptance. But I think that working on it would be an amazing gift that we could all give each other.
I hope that you all find peace and safety during this holiday season.
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.
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)).
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?
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.
Do you know what I am talking about? Do you ever feel this way?
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.