Looking at Your Marriage Through New Eyes
Marriage can be one of the most rewarding relationships in life. In this relationship, we can learn the most intimate details of our partner, and we have the opportunity to truly be known by the other. When couples start dating, everything is new and exciting. We work to learn about the other by asking questions, listening, and observing inquisitively. However, as time goes on and we think we "know" the other person so well that we start to fall into the trap of setting expectations and having assumptions about the other. When this happens, we run the risk of not listening to the other, not stepping out and trying new things, and losing touch as each partner continues to grow and change over the years.
We all have expectations of how a relationship or marriage should be or how a partner should act in the relationship. Many of these expectations build from the relationships we saw and experienced growing up. We saw the example of our parents or the parents or others and we experienced different relationships (parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.) that all guided our expectations of how people should treat one another in a close relationship. The problem comes when our expectations don't align with those of our partner. For example, if I have an expectation that men work outside the home and women work in the home, that might be fine if my partner shares that expectation, but not if she believes in having a career outside the home and sharing household duties. The problem worsens when these expectations are unspoken. When this happens, we keep the expectations internal and expect our partner to just "know." Then, when they behave outside of our expectation we can get angry or hurt, but again we keep it internal until it builds up and comes out in a fight. It is important to talk about how we were raised and our expectations in the relationship, realizing that this new relationship is co-created between the two partners and both will need to negotiate the new "rules" in the relationship.
Assumptions in a relationship are when you believe you know what your partner is going to do or say before you give them a chance to do so. This causes you and your partner to behave differently, either because you are trying to avoid conflict, or you are afraid of hurting your partner, or you just don't want to be let down again. While this might be an attempt to protect yourself in the relationship, it is actually making things worse. Assumptions are very powerful because they are easy to validate, you just have to see an example of your assumption working out as planned and you have confirmed its validity. However, this is likely not always the case. Where before you might have said something or done something and received a good response 30 percent of the time and a bad response 70 percent, you now have no chance of a positive or different response. You are actually limiting the possibilities in your relationship and denying the chance that you or your partner can change.
Remove the Filter
This can be an extremely difficult task, but try to remove some of these filters that you look at your partner and relationship through. It is like wearing sunglasses that are distorting your view and taking them off.
This week try to open your eyes to the possibilities in your relationship and don't accept the status quo. Try to react differently than you always do and engage your partner as you did when you first were dating. Look for new reactions rather that what you assume will happen and you might be suprised.
James McMillian, LCPC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS
"IT is helpful for teens to hear from others that they have similar issues and this normalizes the challenges that they face, allowing them to not feel alone, feel more accepted with their peers, and feel a relief in being able to share about their struggles." - allison kidd
Let's start by answering the question I know you have: what is group therapy?
Group therapy is typically a psychoeducational group where skills are taught and then discussed and applied to each group members own life. Psychoeducational groups are where a clinician (therapist, counselor, social worker) brings together a group of individuals who have similar concerns and teaches them skills. This can include coping skills to help them manage difficult situations in a positive, healthy way. They can be social skills to learn about boundaries, communication, and practice them in a safe environment. Some groups focus specifically on anxiety, depression, grief and loss, or life transitions. The overall goal in group therapy is to help individuals better understand their self and have a deeper understanding of feelings, behaviors, and reactions.
Group therapy can be a very rewarding experience for those attending and participating. When teens engage, they practice giving and receiving support from peers. This can lead to hope, inspiration, encouragement, and validation. It also teaches empathy, which is important for this age group! Group therapy provides:
The key to group therapy is regular attendance and participation. In order to get the most from the experience, it’s important to contribute. When you share your thoughts and experiences, others may find this to be meaningful to them. In turn, helping others will help you too.
What’s the difference between group and individual therapy?
Please visit our website here to view a list of groups currently at Resolve.
Allison Kidd, LSCSW, LMAC
“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this! And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, No. This is what’s important.” -- Iain Thomas
Life is hard, and full of stress, and we often spend time focusing on events that everyone says are important and beat ourselves up for the little celebrations we forget. After falling into the trap last week with Cinco de Mayo and being bummed when I couldn’t make reservations at my favorite Mexican restaurant quickly enough, I began wondering, “Why are we not celebrating the things in life that bring us enjoyment?”
As busy as we are, we tend to celebrate things that we don’t necessarily need to be emotionally present to celebrate. You know what I mean: the 5th baby shower for the month, the 6th bachelorette party of the year, or the 7th year that you force yourself to go to the family reunion where your family simply fights the whole time and everyone sits miserably together.
Break this habit, and break it fast!! Our lives are so demanding, and we are pulled in this, that, or the other direction CONSTANTLY! So why are we allowing ourselves to be pulled in directions that we don’t want to be pulled?
I came across a quote this morning, and it hit home for me… “And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this! And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, No. This is what’s important.” — Iain Thomas
Life is an everlasting decision of what you will celebrate, and what you won’t celebrate, but why spend all of our time celebrating the things that don’t make our hearts happy, and force ourselves to “celebrate” the things that demand more importance than our own wants and needs? Don’t want to go to Vegas for the 5th time for a bachelor party? Don’t. Do what YOU want to do, and what makes your heart happy! If you’re not living your life for your own enjoyment, who’s enjoyment are you living for?
"We may be closest to hearing the call when we feel most alone or in trouble, for genius hides behind the wound and one of the greatest wounds in life is to not know who we are intended to be or what we are supposed to serve in life." - michael meade, the genius myth
I remember a time shortly after I had finished graduate school where I developed this feeling that was new to me. Being a goal-oriented and driven person, I had made a clear path into where I was going. I may not have known what my job description would be exactly, but I did know the type of career I wanted and the type of impact I wanted to have in the community and hopefully some day, the world.
My life had been a series of checklists that contained boxes to check off as they were accomplished. It went something like this:
As you can imagine there were lists within the lists, but some things remained the same. For a moment after crumbling up that list and before moving on to the next, I would feel a moment of relief; however, what I began to notice was that this feeling did not last more than a few minutes before I had the urge to move on to the next thing. I was never able to enjoy one milestone because I would already be looking for the next one.
That feeling I got as I had finished school is a feeling that many Millennials and people feel, in general, I believe: emptiness. What a confusing feeling. I had done everything I had set out to do and then some. I had done all the things I thought were going to make me feel happy, however, after I made it to the "final destination", I felt nothing. I felt like there was still something missing. I was supposed to be happy. This is what I had wanted, but I wasn't.
I wonder if as you are reading this, if you can relate to the feeling of emptiness. This feeling isn't necessarily the one associated with depression and isn't hopelessness. It's more along the lines of "Something is missing and I haven't a clue what it is." In my "checklist and check-off-the-boxes" world, this was maddening, and I wonder if it is it for you too.
It has taken years to find a solution, and I hope that this article will help you shorten that time for yourself to perhaps fill the whole of emptiness within your own self.
Emptiness comes from not be authentic to yourself.
We grow up following templates of what other people did or didn't do. Society tells you to get this product or new clothing line to be happy. Your parents may have told you what degree to pursue in college, that you had to go to college, and that you needed to get married, have kids, or stay single your whole life in order to be happy. You likely received templates from your peers and social groups, as well. Following the status quo and doing the sports, activities, groups, or taking the classes your friends were very likely could have shaped the template that you thought you needed to have in order to be happy.
What you can do now is take a good inner look at who you are. What do you really like doing? What are your hobbies? What are things in the media, news, or in your community that gets your blood boiling or gets you fired up? Who do you love and surround yourself with? Where are you going and what situations are you putting yourself in? We can't begin to change and develop into where we want to be without acknowledging or identifying where we are.
Right now, ask yourself "Who am I?". Make a list of everything that comes to mind.
If you're like me, you may struggle to write anything. This is where you start. If you can't identify who you are, try identifying first who you are not. Know that you aren't alone in identifying these traits of yourself.
Accepting yourself as you are is one of the key components to feeling whole.
Have you ever gone on a date with someone and while they were listing off their hobbies and beliefs, you started convincing yourself that you could like that too or that believing that wasn't so bad even if it went completely against your values? Or, maybe you have difficulty making everyday decisions or have a difficult time standing up for yourself/being assertive when communicating. Accepting yourself as you are, flaws and mistakes included, is something that many people never get to. Wanting to be someone different and morphing yourself into what others to be are both signs you may be codependent on the opinion of others. Want to learn more about codependency? Read Codependency: Sacrificing Yourself for Others.
Stop chasing happiness.
If you're like me, your childhood and teen years consisted of people asking you what you wanted to be when you grew up. You saw your parents, friends' parents, teachers, and coaches all strive to be happy, thus teaching you that this was something you needed to reach too. However, after working with hundreds of people who are also reaching for happiness, I have learned that it is not something to obtain. Happiness is like sadness: an emotion or state of being. It's not realistic to think that you are going to reach this state and stay there continuously. It is realistic, however, to want to be the best you can, live according to your values, and find people and passion who bring you fulfillment.
In order to stop feeling empty, we have to start looking at what is or isn't making us fulfilled, being honest about who we are and what we want, and to accept that this honesty may not look like what we thought or be what our parents or peers wanted.
If you are struggling with finding fulfillment, read Fulfillment Versus Achievement: A Longing for Meaning.
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
"building self-esteem and self-confidence in children comes from actual experience; not from being told how good they are." - Lori cull-deshmukh
Has communication with your child become difficult? Are you frustrated with your child’s responses or behaviors? Is your child in the age range of 6-12? If you answered yes to these questions, here is some insight and tips on this age group.
We must first give credit to the well-known psychologist, Jean Piaget, who, through his research, developed the four stages of cognitive development (Sensorimotor, 0-2 years, Preoperational, 2-7 years, Concrete Operational, 7-11 years, and Formal Operational, 11 years+.) The latter half of the preoperational stage, is known as the “intuitive” period. At this period, children appear to be affected by what they observe and hear and attempt to understand who they are, how others view them, and where they fit in.
This is the time when the parents/caregiver’s messages should be focused on feeling loved, feeling safe, feeling competent. These three areas set the foundation of attitudes and beliefs that children begin to hold about themselves and form the basis for self-esteem and self-confidence. With that said, building self-esteem and self-confidence in children comes from actual experience; not from being told how good they are. There is often a distortion between how children perceive themselves based on their parents’/caregiver’s praise and their reality.
One of the most important ways of communication with a child is with words and tone of voice. As adults, we can make a significant difference in effective communication with children by practicing and changing our own words.
Nicole Schwarz, with Imperfect Families, has great examples of how we as parents (communicators with children) can change words to be more effective with children in her article “Say This Not That: A Parent’s Guide”. See a sample from her website here.
As a parent and communicator with many children, I understand the difficulties learning new ways of communicating. We are exhausted after a long workday and our patience level is often low. However, if you compare the amount of time you practice restating how you communicate to less meltdowns, arguments, and frustrated children; hopefully, the realization of the way we shape our children with our words…will be worth the practice and confirmation of unconditional love, patience, and confidence.
I challenge you to identify a way you communicate with your child and practice a restatement for a month. This will ease you into the change and other restatements will come much easier. I recommend starting with a positive example. This makes the change fun and you can build on from there! Here is a simple one to get you started!
Instead of: “how was your day”
Try: “what was the best part of your day”
Lori Cull-Deshmukh, LMSW, CPT
Phone - 913-752-9518
E-Mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinbeck
Last month, I shared the basics of self-care: its importance, why we struggle with it, and simple techniques to begin implementing into everyday life. If you need a refresher, check it out here!
This month, let’s take a deeper look into the different components and categories of self- care.
Self-care can consist of physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, relationship, and professional self-care. However, self-care by nature is unique, personal, and distinct to you so some of these categories may not resonate with you or maybe you have others that aren’t listed. These six aspects of self-care are a great starting point to begin viewing your health holistically and ever-evolving.
To assess your current levels of self-care, I encourage you to fill out this worksheet.
Each of these six categories play an important role in your life. Our physical health impacts our mood, ability, and overall health, while our psychological state directly influences the amount of creativity, problem-solving, and information processing we can produce. Our emotional and spiritual wellbeing powers our confidence and centeredness with ourselves and others. Relationship or social self-care is crucial in determining our levels of connectedness with others, arguably the strongest desire in humans. Professional self-care has become more and more important as our work and personal lives become more intertwined and woven together as one and as standards are constantly rising to perform.
While your environment may change constantly throughout the day, one thing remains constant: you. You have the power and the choice to determine how your energy and time is allocated. Prioritize yourself equally among your family, friends, and work. Begin by creating your own self-care wheel with ways in which you fill your self-care bucket, one category at a time. Once you have a picture of what it looks like when you’re balanced, use the wheel to guide your self-care activities when one area may be lacking.
Self-care is a habit that we must practice into existence. As with any new skill, be patient and allow yourself some grace. And most importantly, remember that you’re worth taking care of yourself.
DARiNG TO SET BOUNDARIES is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. - brene brown
As a helping professional, boundaries with ourselves and with clients can sometimes be blurred. This Friday, learn more about boundaries and ethics at Everyday Ethics presented by John Thomas.
Emotional Boundaries in the Workplace
To have an emotional boundary is like looking at someone through the other side of a screen door. You can hear them. You can see them. You can put your hand up to the screen and feel their hand, but there still is a layer of separation. This is a technique I often teach my clients and can be used for professionals as well. This separation helps our brain say, "I hear you. I feel you, but at the end of the day, your stuff is not my stuff to take home."
Boundaries are sets of rules put into place to protect one another. Boundaries show that you value that relationship and that you value yourself enough to put in measures that will help keep the relationship healthy and professional.
Setting Boundaries with Yourself
Below is a quick formula to use when setting boundaries with your loved ones or clients. An example is provided as you read along.
If you are struggling with setting or maintaining boundaries, having a coach or therapist may help. View our list of therapists and coaches on the About page. Resolve is hosting a 3-hour Continuing Education credit for professionals this Friday with networking prior. If interested, learn more here.
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
"depression isn't being sad when everything in your life is going wrong -- it's being sad when everything is going right." - andrea mcdonald
Depression has a stigma attached to it, and let’s be honest with ourselves, it’s not the greatest one. Mental illness in general in our society is not taken lightly, and because of this, we are often times ashamed to admit that we are struggling with things. It’s the whispers that you’re weak, it’s the comments that you’re crazy, it’s the idea that you can’t help others if you can’t help yourself, it’s the stigma… and so you hold it in and you hide it.
Depression does not discriminate, so you can imagine the vulnerability it took for me to finally admit that I suffer from depression. As a counselor, even with all of my education and training, I am not invisible to depression. Depression does not discriminate.
One of the most common misconceptions about depression is that depression is just being sad when something in your life goes wrong; When you break up with your boyfriend, when you lose your job, when you lose a loved one who has been ill, but that’s just sadness. Sadness is a natural thing; that’s a natural human emotion. Depression isn’t being sad when something in your life goes wrong. Depression is being sad when everything in your life is going right.
Recently, I had been looking forward to a very long and overdue vacation with my family. I looked forward to time away from the hustle and bustle of work, school, and expectations, but most importantly, it was time that I got to spend with the people that meant the most to me; what could go wrong?
The first day, everything went great! I was so happy to see my family. I was so happy to be in one of my favorite cities; vacation was off to the great start that I knew it would be. The next couple of days? I first woke up in what I initially thought was just a funk. I thought that I was tired, or grumpy, but I quickly realized that it was so much more than just waking up on the wrong side of the bed. I eventually came to terms with the fact that I was suffering through a depressive episode… a depressive episode at what was supposed to be one of my happiest weeks. How could this happen? What was there to be depressed about? Everything was great!
I was frustrated that all I wanted to do was lay in bed. I was frustrated that I didn’t want to be around anyone. I was frustrated that if I allowed myself to stare off into space for too long that I would soon have unexplained tears running down my cheeks. I was frustrated that I was feeling this again. Depression isn’t the chicken pox- it isn’t something that you beat once and it’s gone forever. Depression is something that you live with. Depression is something that I live with.
Because I am a counselor, because I help people overcome their own depressive episodes, because I have spent years helping children in a hospital overcome their darkest days, I was ashamed to come forward with these feelings. I was afraid to share what was really going on inside of me. Now, reflecting upon the experience? I am even more ashamed to admit that I became a part of the stigma, that I did not fight against the asinine ideologies and that I did not demand that my family understand my illness, and that I did not demand that they learn more about depression. If we do not educate our loved ones, our friends, our bosses, our coaches, our teachers, how can we expect them to be efficient support systems for us?
I laid in bed claiming that I was tired. Sometimes I slept. Most times I didn’t. But the whole time I laid there alone and frustrated with my depression, instead of inviting people in to see what I was feeling, and to feel this darkness with me, instead of outside of me.
I don’t share this to draw attention to myself, I don’t share this to gather sympathy from people around me, I share my story to educate. I share my story to empower others. Depression does not discriminate, BUT depression can segregate if we continue to let it, so will you let it? Or will you take a stand and speak up for yourself?
"Communication isn’t just in the words that you speak but also in the way that you present it."- Allison kidd
Being a parent of a teen isn’t easy. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out how to be most effective. People often say “I’m not going to parent my child like my parents did”. With that, doing the opposite might not be the best tactic either. You have to find what works best for you. Some of the techniques that your parents used might not always have been applied in the BEST way, but they must have had some positive effect as you turned out the way you did!
Whichever way you chose to guide and discipline your child, keep a few of these tips in mind.
Keep your COOL:
It’s easy to react when your teen has done something to lose your trust or jeopardize their own safety. Anger is referred to as a “secondary emotion”, meaning that it’s often what’s shown versus the underlying emotions of fear, disappointment, or confusion. However, when you lose your cool and react, your child is also going to react.
Dysregulation carries over. Be aware of your emotions and make efforts to express them appropriately.
As a parent, you don’t always know what you are doing, or if you are doing it right, or what will work with each individual child. When you’re not sure of your direction, you might talk in circles trying to hit every point you think you have. This creates more confusion for your teen. Because you are unsure of the expectations or consequences, they are now also confused. As discussed previously, your thoughts can be irrational when you are upset.
Take the time to clearly think about how you want to address the issue and be concise in the way that you communicate.
It’s important to have ongoing communication with your teen in order to have more balance. Simple acknowledgment for their efforts, asking their opinion about something, letting them be a part in decision making, and praise for trying all go a long way in opening a child up to sharing their life with you.
Kids want to be heard. They know when you are listening to respond and might censor what they say in order to please this.
How many times have you heard your teen say, “I’m grounded for no reason”? They either don’t know what exactly they did (or haven’t acknowledged it) or have a consequence that isn’t reasonable in their minds.
If the only time that you are communicating with your child is to negatively make note of what they didn’t do or punishing them for what they did wrong, you’re setting them up to not communicate with you. They won’t trust to open up and share a mistake or ask for help because they already know they’re going to get in trouble for it.
For some parents, it can be difficult to give their child praise for little things they’re doing when they are slacking on the major things. Simple acknowledgement for the efforts that they are putting forth goes a long way. They need you to see that they are at least trying as this often motivates them to continue. Because you demonstrate being proud of them, they too will feel a sense of pride for themselves.
As humans, we become accustomed to expect something and are more comfortable when there is consistency in our lives. Although these tips are focused on a parent’s role, the techniques can be reciprocated if done consistently. Children will start to acknowledge you being calm or your communication style and model this in their own interactions. They will allow them to be vulnerable if you too demonstrate this in a positive way.
I encourage you to evaluate your parenting style, reflect on what has and hasn’t worked in the past, and start to be mindful of applying these skills in the future.
Allison Kidd, LMSW, LMAC
When you hear the phrase “you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others”, what reaction do you have? You may think, “I don’t have time for that” or laugh and say, “Good one, Elise”. You may logically understand and agree with it while your body becomes tense.
Regardless of your reaction, it’s safe to say that self-care can be hard, uncomfortable, and often tossed aside as unimportant. Yet, it’s one of the best habits and tools we can develop for ourselves to live a healthy, fulfilling, and connected life.
The Importance of Self-Care
Think of yourself as a bucket that constantly fills and empties. When you do things that energize, center, and realign yourself, you're filling that bucket. Neglecting these things empties it. Someone with a "full bucket" is more patient, empathetic, and kind. Those with an "empty bucket" are quicker to become irritated and frustrated while having less tolerance and patience for others.
Filling our buckets and taking intentional care of ourselves produces self-confidence, empowerment, and self-esteem by recognizing our needs and meeting them. We are increasing our resources and ability to handle life’s constant stressors.
That’s great Elise but…
There are infinite reasons why we don’t practice self-care. It can feel like another thing we have to add to our already long to-do lists so it does not become a priority and moves to the very bottom. Our identity is also partially formed by how we provide and care for others, and taking care of ourselves can feel as though we’re being selfish, but that’s the complete opposite of healthy self-care!
So where do I start?
Start simple. Build self care exercises into routines that are already established in your day so
that it’s not another thing you have to find time for. Here are some ideas to get you started:
HALT. When we feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, self-care can help prevent us from snapping at our children, tuning out our spouse, or lashing out on our coworkers. Identify and communicate when HALT is controlling your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Breathe. One of the quickest ways to center, calm, and energize ourselves is to pause and take a couple of deep breaths. This can help relax our muscles, lower blood pressure, strengthen our lungs and heart, and increase our oxygen supply. Inhale through your nose for about 5 counts, hold the breath for a moment, and exhale through your mouth for a count longer than the inhalation.
Practice incorporating these building blocks of self-care into your daily life, and check in next
month for more advanced self care ideas! You’re worth taking care of yourself.