In searching for meaning in life, most seem to do this in attaining loving relationships, which are sometimes successful... and sometimes not. About a 50% gamble based on most statistics.
I do not personally or professionally believe in failures, I believe, and have witnessed in my practice, that it is all a building process of learning experiences, that lead to greater knowledge of self and others. Yet, to be in a loving relationship, one has to be vulnerable.
The word "vulnerability" can evoke, as I have seen in my clients faces, a squirmy uncomfortable feeling..."what is that"...what is vulnerability anyways, and why is it needed in love and relationships?
A very wise and dear friend of mine told me a while back, and I started to ponder it personally, and discuss with my clients as well,... To have a successful, full, meaningful relationship, two people have to be mutually vulnerable...sharing secrets, trust, all in...for better or worse, ego aside.
If this is so, why is it so hard to be vulnerable? Because being vulnerable is scary! Rejection, or judgment, or loss is right on the other side...what if...
It is like jumping into a lake that looks beautiful on the surface, yet you have no idea what is under the water.
It is like jumping out of a plane, wondering if the chute will open, or trusting your tandem partner will pull the cord at the right time...
But love, true love, the kind that lasts a lifetime...which seems to be what so many want...takes a leap, takes trust before it is earned... it takes vulnerability and being OPEN...in a way that they see the real you, and you see the real them, and then the magic happens...so we must not fear vulnerability, because in reality, it is the only way we can get, and keep, what we all seem to want so much...
It is a leap, a blind jump, faith in trusting one another to understand, and catch each other. It is facing the fear of judgement and being your full and true self with one another...that is vulnerability, and it is the only way love is going to work.
Jaclyn Fortier, LPC
Has anyone else noticed we are on earth, which is rapidly spinning in space each day? With the hustle and bustle of daily life, garbage trucks at the curb making the dog bark while you busily get ready for the day. Kids or cats needing food, work obligations, resolutions to yet again make everything better this year...It is no wonder why so may people are stressed and seeking more in their lives.
What we are seeking so furiously, may just be with us already.
One day not long ago, I was driving down a back road after an appointment, setting an intention to be mindful.
A big red pick-up truck came up behind me as I cruised at the speed limit...he got really close. So close I could feel his anger and hurried energy breathing down my mindfulness moment.
As we curved an winded down the road, I stayed my course, noticing the beautiful broken down barn in the pasture, the horses lazily eating their way through the fields... then with a loud muffler exhale...the truck ZOOMED passed me and darted out of sight. I could slowly feel his hurried anger leave my mindful moment and I took a breath...
A few miles down the road, I stopped for the red light, and to my delight and insight, the big red angry pick-up truck was in FRONT of me at the red light...we were at the same point in time...this was inspiring as I can relate, most can, to being in that kind of hurry. Maybe he was late picking up his children from school, maybe he forgot the milk on the way home...But...his hurrying did ABSOLUTELY nothing to change this.
AHHHH I wish I would have known this when I was younger...this bit of wisdom I have learned, and now passionately share with others...
WE ARE ALL GOING TO END UP IN THE SAME PLACE SO WHAT'S YOUR HURRY...
Mindfulness is practice of slowing down, paying attention, and being in the moment. It is a practice, it is hard to do in this world of hustle and bustle, although it can be life-changing. It is not mediation, you do not have to wear a Buddha robe to master it. You can even drive a big pick-up truck and still be mindful.
It is a practice and a tool. It does not mean you have to be in a mindful state all the time, although it is a tool used to come back to when you need it, whenever you can.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling at every moment — without interpretation or judgment or trying to change it.
Spending too much time planning, problem-solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be exhausting. It can also make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression.
Practicing mindfulness exercises, on the other hand, can help you direct your attention away from this kind of thinking and engage with the world around you. There are online mindful courses, guided mindfulness work, and many counselors, including myself, have training on how to implement mindfulness into your daily life.
What are the benefits of mindfulness exercises? Practicing mindfulness exercises can have many possible benefits, including:
Jaclyn Fortier, LPC
Psychotherapist, Practice Owner, Writer, and Empowerment guru!
Hugh Willard, LPC, writes an interesting piece on needs.
Abraham Maslow was a seminal figure in psychology. He created his Hierarchy of Needs, which details the upward movement for individuals from the most basic requisite need of the essentials for survival, through safety and security, to emotional connection, esteem and respect, and finally the pinnacle of self-actualization. One will always default to the lowest level of unmet need, Maslow posits. With great respect for Dr. Maslow, while I agree with his idea that we will orient to the most primary unmet needs first, I disagree with his order.
Time and again, we see the behavior of others, or ourselves, being driven by the need for true connection. We may even settle for tenuous or superficial belonging and work really hard to make ourselves believe it to be authentic. We will forgo the more traditional basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter if it entails a relationship for which we assign the value of real connection. The starkest demonstration of this I have witnessed personally is a terminally ill person moving through the process of dying. Subjectively, there is a distinct difference for the dying person who feels truly connected to others. There is greater peace and acceptance. Because of the mercurial nature of humankind, we often make choices in the pursuit of securing or maintaining a bond, that produce disastrous results. Co-dependency is the oft cited word used to describe such behaviors.
If it is true that belonging is more essential than safety, then realistically, we are all somewhere on the continuum of co-dependency. It’s when we tilt over in the direction of being too defined by forces outside of us that we get into trouble. We would do well to be vigilant in our relationships to ensure we are nurturing healthy connections. We cannot live well without them.
Hugh Willard LPC
Here is a post by Hugh Willard, LPC, on anger...
Many, many of us in our society today have an anger problem. Our problem is that we have absolutely no idea of how to use and work with it. Healthy anger gives us proportionate energy to communicate our boundaries, usually when these boundaries have been violated. We tend to be over shooters (too much) and under shooters (too little) with our anger. Regrettably, many of us did not have healthy models in our families growing up; nor have we had enough healthy models in our local communities (ever go to a child’s sporting event and listen to the shouts from the stands?), or on the national stage (pick any number of TV programs, fictitious or reality).
Anger, in any form, is a secondary emotion. The primary emotion that always under girds and fuels our anger, is fear. While we won’t turn off years of mental programming overnight, it is never too late to start learning how to become allies and partners with our anger, so that it will ultimately serve us in the pursuit of health and healthier relationships. As we pay greater attention to our anger responses across experiences, through the dispassionate lens of hindsight, hopefully we can begin to critically judge our reactions.
We can ask ourselves, “what am/was I afraid of?” Exploring the underlying drivers can help us to better use and manage our anger. Where we chronically undershoot, we can work with techniques toward becoming more assertive and active in making choices. Where we overshoot, we can employ strategies to help us relax and slough off excess anger and stress not fitting for the experience at hand.
Read more about Hugh at willowwaycounseling.org
Hugh Willard, LPC shared a great post this week. Let's get to it...insightful.
“Sometimes my masks are insufficient and light breaks in” When I hear someone exclaim “boundaries!”, it is without exception in the context of saying that another person’s boundaries are too loose, or non-existent. That is, the other individual shares too much personal information and/or requests the same from others.
These unsafe dynamics are usually quite easy to spot. But what about the other end of this relational continuum? What happens when a person’s boundaries are too impenetrable? In the world of psychology, one of the more widely accepted basic tenets is that of defenses.
Defenses include such experiences as denial, repression, and rationalization, among many others. Defenses serve a very important and protective role in our emotional health. All too often, however, our defenses outlast the specific circumstances for which they were originally employed.
When this occurs, the protection becomes the poison, cutting us off from the life giving sources of connection with other people and experiences. It can be an act of courage to open ourselves up after painful experiences. Of course, we need to proceed with care, but proceed we must, if we are to heal and grow.
See more of Hugh's work at www.willowwaycounseling.org
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!