Hello couples and anyone in a relationship...! Less is the new more. Quality is the new quantity. Lowering expectations about what healthy couples "should" do together is today's topic.
In my experience with counseling family issues, I see a lot of similar problems come through the door. Too many arguments, not enough "me" time, kids changing the relationship dynamic. I hear couples saying:
"I didn't expect it to be this way"
"All of my other friends marriages are not this way"
"We never spend time together anymore except doing things with the kids"
"I have nothing to myself anymore"
All valid emotions and experiences. Although the common aliment from this is two fold. One EXPECTATIONS and the second is RESENTMENT.
I expected something different than_________...
I resent my partner for not________...
We never do________...
I never get to do_________anymore...
There is also a lot of comparing to others, what we think others are anyways. We build these "perfect" couples and what they probably do all the time..Stop right there, they don't exist! Maybe there are healthier couples, although they still come to therapy I promise.
So what is the measure for healthy? Each family is different, although when you reduce and seek to limit the expectations of time having magical wonderful experiences together, and enjoy the few moments of peaceful time each month together, and stop having resentment for the other person, you ENJOY the moments so much more. Mindfully connecting when possible and letting go of the time you are not able to with peace. See it as a complement that you want to be together, not an insult if it does not happen.
Love is the ABSENCE of judgement. Do not judge your beloved for needing time away from you. Do not judge them for asking to have their own space. Seek support from others, a coach, therapist, or dear friend who has mastered the art of being one with themselves in a relationship.
In the meantime, less is more. Take time to yourselves and allow it with grace.
Remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder after all.
Jaclyn Fortier, LPC
Spring is here! Well close enough anyways. Yes, I took this picture, no it is not my tree, although I was admiring it so much I snapped a picture and was inspired.
Spring is a great time for change. Just a few weeks ago, this tree was sad, brown, and leafless. I bet a few have felt that way after a long winter, a loss, or a time of sadness. The most amazing thing about nature is that when leaves fall, they make room for new. This is so very true in our own lives, we have loss, change, and seasons pass, we always have room for new...it is a time for filling the space with what is to come.
Lately in my practice, we have been having some challenging exercises to learn to fill this space with what we want next. I find it such a hard activity because as human beings we usually get lost in the process. With my mental organizing and renewing exercise, we can find a creative way to let go of the old and "leaf" leave it behind..haha punny...pun intended...(I was told yesterday I was "punny"). Take what works for us, and leave the rest. When we create space with intention, there is room for growth and new opportunity. We don't have to leave all of it behind, we all have great characteristics that work well in our lives, let's just get rid of the old less than desirable stuff that doesn't work for us anymore.
To do this exercise at home, get a piece of paper, draw a vertical line right down the middle, on the left side write "leave" and on the right side write "take"...
Now start organizing the things you want to leave behind. Examples may be:
Then work on the right side, things you want to take with you or attain in the future. Examples may be:
The list can be long, or short, and can be repeated at each new chapter of your life. This is a practical way to mentally organize and set your intentions. If you find you struggle with this, feel free to consult a therapist, coach, or mentor. We are not meant to be solo artists at this whole life thing, and they do not teach this enough...it is a process!
Resolutions, the best time of year for starting over, getting fit and healthy, or fixing something that has been getting you down all year. We usually get into a nice cycle of complacency during December, just getting through the motions with the holiday run around. Then January 1st rolls around and BAM..let's fix something!!!
I want to lose weight!
I want to save more money!
I want to be a better spouse, parent, or employee!
By the third or fourth week we are just tired and probably wanting a brownie. I find in my practice, so much self judgment. We set these "goals" to fix ourselves, only to feel let down and disappointed when we miss the mark. Typically thereafter we land right back to where we were before the holidays behavior wise, only now we have a feeling of failure that accompanies us. Repeat this pattern every year and over time we just start dreading the whole self-improvement process all together.
Change is hard. But it doesn't have to hurt our self concept long term. The judgment has to STOP! So how do you get motivation without the feared judgement if you fail? Acceptance is KEY. When you set a goal, do it from a "I deserve the best life I can have" mindset. Set goals that you actually WANT to achieve, and set them with personal acceptance built in. Make the resolutions manageable and very attainable. Make the resolution to accept that you will just try your best, and do it with joy. Find ways to integrate joy and acceptance into your resolutions with an attitude that you DESERVE to succeed. If you miss the mark, accept that you did your best, and practice seeing what you did accomplish instead of what you didn't.
If you find it difficult, find a mentor, therapist, or coach, who can guide you. True greatness does not have to be a solo journey.
~~~ Jaclyn Fortier, LPC
Laura Torres LPC, from http://lauratorrescounseling.com/ offered some really great information I was thrilled to have permission to share! Could not have said it better myself Laura. I am always saying perfectly imperfect.
Letter from your inner wisdom.
It’s okay to be imperfect. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to be a learner. It’s okay to not have all of the answers. It’s okay to have days where you aren’t productive, efficient, or effective. It’s okay to be right where you’re at. It’s okay to stop doing and just be. It’s okay to pause. It’s okay to change your mind. It’s okay to take care of yourself. It’s okay to say no. You are not responsible for everything. It’s okay to let go. You do not have to carry such a heavy load. It’s okay to receive support. It’s okay to be angry, confused, scared, overwhelmed–lean in. It’s okay to be vulnerable and truthful. It’s okay to allow others to be upset. Our feelings are messengers. You do not need to take responsibility for others’ feelings.
Your experience and input matters. Your feelings are important and valid. Speak up–people need to hear what you have to say. You do not have to be an expert to offer value. You are worthy and good enough just as you are. You are loved and supported. You belong. You are more than your successes and failures. You are greater than others’ perception of you and greater that your perception of yourself. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are connected even when you feel alone. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be. Let yourself be there. Trust that there is a divine organicity at work. Invite your curiosity. Be gentle with yourself and with others. You have everything you need. This is just a reminder–you already know all of this.
Much love, Your Inner Wisdom <3
Read more at-
Remember the movie "What Women Want" with Mel Gibson a few years back. It was all about the ins and outs of relationships and a true "Chick Flick". In the movie Mel gained insight into the woman's mind and was able to read it verbatim and was BAFFLED and overwhelmed with what they REALLY wanted. He had it all wrong!
What about children, yes, in the time of the giving season we are all talking about what our children "want" this year. They want, let me guess, a new IPhone, or a new tech device. They want new new new, something. They wait for Christmas morning, tear through the presents, one after another, like a hungry bear in a campsite left attended. GRRRR...where is my....
You know what I mean if you have ever seen children on Christmas morning!
After the presents are open, the food has been eaten, the company has gone home, do you ever feel a sense of sadness? Do your children? Yes, they are off playing with the things we thoughtfully got them. Although, there is a feeling of emptiness, or loss that sometimes creeps up. We all have good intentions, and really try to show our children we love them everyday.
It just seems that maybe, just maybe, even they don't know what they really want.
They want what we want. It is my genuine hunch that they want to belong, a place to fit, a purpose in this life. Isn't that the true core of our essence and wanting? The opposite of depression is purpose. The opposite of sadness is belonging.
Joy is in acceptance
Belong | Purpose | Acceptance
We can gently practice this each day this month by showing our children that they belong. Just as they are, accepting them and finding the little ways we show them their purpose. Allow them to help, praise them in the little ways. Sit with them, play, read, snuggle, watch the birds out the window, just be together, belong together! Tell them they don't have to be perfect. Tell them all the things that you needed to hear when you were young.
Don't assume teenagers don't apply. They do! Even more so, and if you can endure the eye rolling, you get extra credit! I am in no way saying skip the presents. Just don't forget the good stuff!
They truly don't know yet just how important they are in this world and it is our job to show them.
Today's topic is heavy, although after this week visiting new people, hearing stories of survival, and struggles, it is important that it is covered. Many people do not understand the current epidemic of self harm. When we say self harm it typically referring to self-injury, also known as cutting or self-mutilation, occurs when someone intentionally and repeatedly harms herself/himself. In today's world, with suicide as one of the leading causes of death in adolescents, when someone is injuring one self on purpose, it is assumed that they are suicidal.
This is sometimes true although it is not ALWAYS true.
Why people participate in self harm behavior varies although past trauma is highly correlated. The self harm becomes a coping strategy.
First, listen to them and try not to panic. Believe they have something valuable to say, and take the time to listen. There is usually a deep pain that has occurred that developed a need for release and healing. We first need to figure out what that is before we heal. Sometimes the person hurting doesn't even realize why they are doing what they are doing.
Second, Find a professional who has experience with self harm evaluation and treatment. Get help, find ways to cope with the feelings in a more positive way. Do not ignore the feelings. Ask for help.
If you are suicidal or have a family member who is please reach out.
I am here to help the community I live in with this epidemic feel free to call or request a consultation . I also can help find referrals for care if you are out of the triangle NC area.
I am here to talk about and treat the issues we are all sometimes afraid of. With support and knowledge there is power. ~~~Jaclyn Weatherhead LPC
Find support, signs, and symptoms details at:
Adolescent Self Injury Foundation
American Association of Suicidology
In meeting some fabulous new people this week, and reconnecting with some dear relationships from the past, it has me thinking to why we want what we want and how we decide what we want when we want it. Confused yet, it's ok, we will get there...clarity here we come!
Why are you doing what you are doing right now in your life? Is it because you think you should be doing it? Is it because you WANT to be doing these things, such as work, school choices, family, going to______ this weekend. Fill in the blanks, we all are doing quite a lot these days. Although, from years of observing and caring for individuals and families, I ponder, MOTIVATION and WHY people are doing what they are doing.
While discussing goals of others lives, plans for their futures, family struggles, it is apparent that many are not doing what they WANT to be doing. They are doing what they THINK they SHOULD be doing. This is where I see a pattern of depression, anxiety, loss of success, aka failure, and all and all burn out and detachment from passion.
Why are you doing what you are doing, and knowing why you are doing what you are doing will be the key for you to move towards being successful at whatever you are doing. It is the WHY!! There are ways to incorporate being genuine in our commitments. There is a way to reframe one's intentions and putting the passion back into life.
Finding your voice, being genuine in your intentions, and having reflection of why you are doing what you are doing in your life. Know thy intentions wise one. Do you know your intentions. The reason why this is so important is that others can FEEL your intentions. It is an energy. We see this with animals as well. They can feel fear, anger, genuine feelings, and they will react accordingly! Therefore, getting right with the WHY you are doing what you are doing in life, can unlock doors that you never knew existed.
Trust yourself, your intentions, and find your voice!
I say often, you are always right, that little voice inside, let's learn together how to listen to it.
Mindfulness is very "IN" right now. I had training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction back before it was so popular and am proud to be using it in my current practice. It is the best for anxiety! When we are all so stressed, messed, worried, thinking about yesterday, thinking about later today, thinking about tomorrow....AHHH just the THINKING THINKING THINKING!!! It can get pretty hectic up there in that brain! I take mindfulness in small doses. It is different than meditation in the way that you can still think while being mindful. I think of it as a user friendly version of mediation. First- let's begin by thinking like my dog. He is my mindfulness MASTER example.
Doesn't he look wise beyond his years and peacefully relaxed?
I use this picture because Barkley is doing what he does everyday to practice his mindfulness. He uses his senses, touch, sight, taste, hearing, and smell to navigate his world. (Especially when someone is cooking). Every day he finds the sunshine as it moves throughout the house, and lays in the sweet warm rays. Feeling the sensations of the peaceful present moment. He is not worried about the cat from down the street who doesn't like him. He is not worried about if he will get a walk tomorrow or not. He is IN THE MOMENT, enjoying the simple pleasures of the mindful enjoyment of the suns warmth coming down on him. AHHHH can you feel it. Yes, take a break every day and slow down to notice the way nature feels and sounds around you. Mindfulness lessons from Barkley the Mindful Master DOGO.
We all come in to this world, magically, some would say, with EXPECTATIONS! Where did they come from anyways. I have taken some time this summer to observe the world from an outsiders perspective and noticed a common theme. Everyone has expectations, and many people have disappointment over these expectations not being met.
Disappointment, anger, depression, stress, anxiety, all stem from somewhere right??? Yes, brain chemistry has something to do with it. Of course, there is the theory we learn maladaptive thinking patterns from our family as well. Although, it seems all of this is exacerbated by EXPECTATIONS!
I often hear from my beloved clients these words "I didn't think it was going to be like this", " I thought it was going to be easier", "It shouldn't have turned out this way". Followed by depression, anxiety, and of course STRESS...with more expectations after all of that, and you have a vicious cycle my dear friend.
Why do we believe it was supposed to be more than it is. Why do we make these assumptions? It can sometimes be a set up for disappointment. Or maybe a driving force for improvement? Let's think it over and find ways to balance this concept out.
Cognitive Behavioral Re-frame Tip.
Expectation- I thought once I moved to a new school, town, or next step in my life, had a baby, got married,
life would get easier.
CBT Re-frame- I have new problems now, although I am more in control this time and have more life experience to get through them easier that I did before.
I LOVE Cognitive behavioral techniques and working with expectations, acceptance, personal growth, among other personal mental health issues...
I see often those who are struggling with depression. The theme is the thought that they will never be able to be like "one of those" happy all the time people. This is a struggle as it seems out of reach to be happy "all the time".
The thing with being positive in life is not to view it as an all or nothing, black and white concept. Either I see the bright side, am an optimist, or I am dark and the kind to wallow...why can't it be more of one and less of the other, and just set the intention for being real. When we drop the expectations, keeping up with the neighbors, who has what, etc, we can just be...and that can be being positive...
Accepting ourselves, our current situation, finding gratitude, acting with grace, forgiving ourselves, and forgiving others. These are all components of being positive. Positive does not look pretty all the time.Tripping on the sidewalk, spilling your coffee (gasp), and still getting up with a smile, or ability to laugh at yourself, that is positive.
My message to those who are suffering from depression--happy people are not always happy, positive people are often struggling. It is just a way of thinking and shifting perspective. That is where therapy can help. With support and Cognitive Behavioral techniques being positive CAN be learned...