“You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you.”
You’ve had a tough, long day at work. You’re driving home and envisioning walking in the door, leaving the stress of the day at the door, and having dinner ready on the table. But when you walk in, no one has started preparing dinner. Your chest immediately tightens; your patience disappears, and your anger rises.
Expectations are powerful.
We plan out the future in our minds and create viable options for whichever scenario unfolds. Expectations are a method of comforting ourselves and creating a false sense of control over an unknown situation. However, when our expectations aren’t met, we’re often left with disappointment, resentment, sadness, and anger – the infamous feelings that give expectations such a bad reputation.
We’ve all heard the phrases “don’t get your hopes up” and “if you don’t have any expectations, you won’t be disappointed.” Another common one is “should”: “I should have eaten better today” or “I should be able to handle all of this.” Each of these phrases sends the following false messages about expectations:
But what if the problem didn’t lie in the expectation itself, but rather in how we were dealing with it?
We can’t change our brain’s ability to create expectations, but we can change what we do with them and how much power we give them. Instead of avoiding expectations out of fear, we can focus on learning how to better manage our expectations and use them in a positive, constructive, and healthy manner.
Resolve Counseling & Wellness
"Imagine all the people living life in peace. you may say i'm a dreamer, but i'm not the only one. I hope some day you'll join us and the world will live as one." - john lennon, "Dreamer"
This post was supposed to be published on February 15, the day after Valentine’s Day. However, what I had planned to talk about in regards to this day was washed off the table when yet another mass shooting in a school took the lives of over 15 people. More than fifteen people who went to school that morning, children who said goodbye to their parents for the last time, husbands who kissed their wives and said “see you after school”, and children who had their last kiss from their dads before they went to work that day.
So, this post is different than expected. Because instead of talking about how to move on from this special day of the month and keep loving growing in your relationship despite Valentine’s Day being over, we are talking about the lives of people who did not ask to die.
Please do not mistake this as a political post. Rather, it is a post to remind you that there are many different types of love and that romantic love or the lack of romantic love is not the only thing we should focus on.
We take relationships for granted, or at least I have. I haven’t called my parents as much as I should, I didn’t call my grandmothers much before they passed, I didn’t make an intention to let my friends, brothers, colleagues, and everyone else’s path I meet know how much they meant to me and how grateful I was for their presence in my life.
Love is one of few constants among cultures. Hugs, smiles, words of affirmation, things you do for someone else, etc. are ways that you can see love being expressed. There’s love that you have for your family, love for your children, the love you have for your spouse or significant other. There is the love that you have for your pet, your parents, and the love you have for life. Savor those relationships and experiences. As we have learned and continue to learn, trauma does not discriminate. It does not take a certain age, a certain population, a certain race. It does look at what you’ve done right or wrong or how many times you’ve gone to church this year. Trauma impacts everyone. And if you’re lucky enough to not had a traumatic event in your life, you know someone who does. So, it’s time to start acting like we have a lot to lose. Because we do.
Spread love around:
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Millennial Life Coach
"I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ― Brené Brown
When working with couples in marriage counseling, one of the most common statements I hear is that they don't spend enough time together and need to schedule more time. However, life gets in the way and work, children, and outside responsibilities soon fill our calendar. Then, I'll see the couple a week later without having spent any "quality time" together. While I do think it is important to make time for date nights, it is not the only way to start connecting more with your partner. There are opportunities every day to show one another your love.
Why Connecting Everyday Matters
Love and relationships are like any living thing. They need daily nurturing and care to live. If we don't take time in daily moments to show love to our partner, the relationship can begin to starve. When we don't see love regularly, we begin to question if it is still there.
This comes across in several ways. Sometimes we start to nag or criticize our partner to get any response possible. Sometimes the only interactions we seem to have are negative, so we start to withdraw to try and avoid fights. We can also dive into work or projects that we gain satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment from because we feel like our relationship is failing. And finally, sometimes partners find connection in another person, either emotionally or physically, through affairs. Frequently, couples come in saying that the love just "went away." What I find, however, is that the love wasn't gone, it just hadn't been seen in quite some time. That date night kept being put off, bills, work, and kids ate up more time, and in the meantime, there were no small connections along the way to show that the love was still there.
Finding Opportunities to Connect
I want to start by saying this is understandably not easy. Couples who are struggling to connect on a daily basis typically have extremely busy schedules. Kids, as much as we love them, can also make it more difficult to find time and energy to connect to our partners. Lastly, if there have been many hurts in the relationship to this point, it might be difficult to even want to connect in a loving manner. If this is the case, additional work should be done to strengthen the relationship, possibly through marriage and couple counseling, before you try to push yourselves into something you're not ready for.
In a previous article, I discussed the importance of hello and goodbye. These two moments are opportunities every day to show your partner you love them and will either miss them when leaving or are excited to see them when you return. This is not a time to simply run out the door saying you love each other, or to return by gliding past your partner on the way to the couch or bedroom. Keeping in mind that this could be the last time you ever see each other, you should make it a priority to really engage each other when saying goodbye. And, thinking of how a child or pet are excited to see you when you come home, attempt to show a similar level of excitement to see your partner after a long day. Sometimes this takes practice in order to leave our day behind us and start fresh when we get home.
Additionally, look at times you are doing activities apart, and see if there is opportunity to do them together. Are you both watching different shows in separate rooms? Could you find a show you agree on and watch together? When one person is doing laundry or dishes, could the other step in and help? This can be an opportunity to show your partner you not only love them, but support them in household chores, and it is a time that typically stimulates conversation. If one person needs to run and errand, can the other tag along? The point here is not that we need to spend every waking hour together, but that there are times everyday that we can spend ten minutes together, and that time goes a long way to showing our partner they are loved.
James McMillian, LCPC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
8340 Mission Rd Ste 230
Prairie Village, KS 66206
Valentine's Day Part One
"loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we can ever do." - brene brown
Many of us grew up watching or reading about fairytales--all about the stories of the princesses and princes who fell in loved and lived in this world of “Happily Ever After”. Many of us were taught that the goal in life was to find and be with a “true love”, a one person you were supposed to be with for the rest of your life.
Thankfully, in 2018, many of these beliefs and norms have changed, but for some of us the pressure of being married, staying married, or not-even-close-to-married weighs on our shoulders--especially around Valentine’s Day. If you’ve been divorced or widowed, this reading will still apply, and I know that today along with many other days may be extra difficult.
If you’ve found your true love, if you’re with your true love, if you’re seeking your true love, or if you’ve lost your true love, I have four words that will help you: look in the mirror.
So, today, on this Valentine’s Day and whatever this day means for you, remember to look in the mirror. Remember to speak kindly to the person you see staring back at you, to offer grace for all the hard things going on in her life, and to really see her. Say “Hello.” Say “I love you”. Say “I got this.”
Here are a few of my favorite self-love activities you can do today:
Make sure to check out the blog on Thursday for the Part 2 Series called “Valentine’s Day: The Aftermath”.
**Robin is offering a new client special for life coaching! For any NEW client, enjoy 50% off your first Life Coaching session. Join the rest of Millennials on a mission to create a more fulfilled and balanced life. Schedule online and put VALENTINE’S DAY in the “Comments” section to claim the discount!
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
“Students are told to pay attention a thousand times in school, but rarely are they taught how. We tell our kids to be nice to each other again and again without ever teaching them the incredibly accessible exercises that cultivate empathy and forgiveness."
Last month, I wrote an article on social and emotional learning for children and how emotions, unmanaged stress and poor regulation of impulses can interfere with attention, memory and often unwanted behaviors. Now, I want to share integrating the social and emotional skills with mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness techniques can benefit everyone, both children or adults.
Imagine introducing mindfulness techniques early in childhood to help decrease negative thoughts and behaviors and build self-confidence before they reach a level of chaos or crisis. We all want this for our children, right? I remember my first child having emotional and behavioral struggles. As a mom, I felt like the worst parent ever. I had no idea what to do to help him. I think, "if I had only known then, what I know now…things would be different." I know I’m not alone with this feeling.
What Is Mindfulness?
When many think of mindfulness, they first think of yoga. Yoga is a form of mindfulness, but there are many other mindfulness tools too. Mindfulness is awareness. It is the practice of paying attention to thoughts, body sensations and sounds around us. Most importantly, mindfulness teaches us to respond versus react. Mindfulness can be simple, but we need to practice it. When we try anything for the first time, it feels awkward. However, the more you practice, the more natural it becomes.
What Research Shows
Research shows that mindfulness can be beneficial for our children in these ways:
How to Teach Mindfulness to Children
Lori Cull-Deshmukh, LMSW
"I want to be your favorite hello and hardest goodbye."
You probably have seen the reaction of a dog when its owner comes home, if not experienced it yourself. It is as if you are the most important person in the world at that moment, and they haven't seen you in ages. Or maybe you know the feeling when you come home to your young child (this is possibly not the case with a teen child) who melts your heart with a "DAAAAADDDDYYY" and big hug.
Now, think about your reaction when you see your loved one after a long day. Do you greet them with the same reaction?
Many times, the day can wear us down, and the first thing we think about is getting dinner and plopping down on the couch. During couples counseling, I have heard husbands and wives express that they feel their partner cares more about TV, books, hobbies, etc. than them simply because that is the first thing they give their attention to when they come home. Taking time to celebrate seeing your loved one first thing when you come home can help strengthen your relationship. This simple gesture shows your partner that they are the most important person at that moment, that you missed them, and that you are excited to see them again no matter how tired you are.
Additionally, when you leave your loved ones when going to work or out the door other times, do you take time to say farewell? During my time in grief counseling, one of the most difficult things for clients to resolve is the sadness they feel if they didn't get to say a good goodbye. It's difficult to think about, let alone say, but when you leave your loved one for the day, it might be the last time you see them. If that thought makes you sad, then you can see the importance to express your love each and every time you part ways. Again, this simple gesture speaks volumes about your love and priorities. These two actions combined set your relationship as a top priority and gives you two times each day, no matter what else happens or how drained you are by the day, to express your love.
James McMillian, LCPC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS
"They say there is no light without dark, no good without evil, no male without female, no right without wrong. That nothing can exist if its direct opposite does not exist." -Lauren k. Hamilton
Years ago, when my husband Matthew passed at the age of 30 years, I struggled with seemingly conflicting emotions. I was heartbroken with sadness and wrestling with anger while simultaneously experiencing peaceful relief and inner joy.
There was a frustration of clarification! If there was sadness, how could there be joy? How could both turmoil and peace hold a space in my being?
In such life-changing moments, old habits, attitudes or beliefs often break out of the neat little boxes we have created for them. These significant events can provide an open door to a new way of experiencing life.
I discovered that my belief of needing to feel EITHER sad OR happy; EITHER in turmoil OR at peace – was an illusion. My experiential truth was that I was in a full spectrum of emotions at the same time. In that moment, I transformed the perception of an ‘either/or’ belief in to the awareness of ‘AND’.
‘AND’ expanded my inner-world and broadened my external choices. Although my new reality arrived on a crashing wave that took me into the depths, it also carried me lovingly to a new shore.
‘AND’ provides the opportunity to move beyond where we have been. We do not need a health crises, job loss or relationship change to begin using the creative power of ‘AND’. Allow yourself to explore new discoveries in your world by using ‘AND’. This simple action can provide a life of innovative options.
You can be sure that creative people such as Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Leonardo Da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Rosa Parks, John Lennon, Amelia Earhart and many more actively engaged with ‘AND’ in their lives. Look around at the people you admire and I guarantee you’ll find that ‘AND’ is coloring their daily life.
It takes courage to add the 3-letter word, A-N-D, to your world. Today, you are invited to open your Self to the myriad of possibilities that are available through the doorway of ‘AND’…
“Be proactive not reactive, for an apparently insignificant issue ignored today can spawn tomorrow's catastrophe.” ― Ken Poirot
Most people wait until they are in a crisis to seek out counseling. Full blown panic attacks, depression that keeps you in bed all day or reliving life traumas are all reasons that people walk through our doors on a daily basis and as therapists we have the evidence based tools to assist through the darkest of times. While I highly recommend seeking counseling during those strong times of need, I also firmly believe that we often have the greatest personal growth when we are being proactive about our mental health.
Proactive Counseling: What is it?
Proactive counseling is the idea that talking about your day-to-day stresses with a professional will likely improve your quality of life. Let's look at physical health as an example. People who engage in regular physical activities that bring them joy tend to have better physical health and don't often get into crisis modes with their weight, pain, or health. Those who only complete physical activities after prescribed by a doctor, when trying to lose weight or for a New Years Resolution are less likely establish the skills needed to maintain a regular activity plan and enjoy the process.
What would I even talk about if I don't have a crisis?
You could talk about anything. I encourage clients to bring in a list of topics they would like to focus on that pertain to what is occurring in their life currently. Some ideas are listed below:
When we are at our lowest points we tend to be in survival mode. In survival mode, we start looking for the short term solutions to the issue at hand and sometimes don't take a look at the larger picture or system. When coming to counseling proactively one is often able to create structured goals around whole life improvement that focus on integrating all facets of their life. I like to think of crisis counseling as moving from surviving to living and proactive counseling as moving from living to thriving.
How often should I complete proactive counseling?
Proactive counseling can be done at your own pace because its proactive!! I recommend starting out at an every other week pace and seeing how quickly you reach your goals. Reassessing after every 2 months is a great idea as well.
Amber Reed, LSCSW, LCAC