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!
This picture was taken from the window of my new office. I was filled with what I call "Life Energy" that morning, and woke up before dawn, to go over to my new space and get some painting done. We were opening in three weeks. There was a lot of change on the way, which always gives me "Life Energy". Some might call this anxiety, although I take that feeling and shift it into the framework "time is changing". Energy is needed, call the reinforcements! Things are shifting in the air, you can see it in the sky in this picture. It is magically beautiful with sparkles of hope. It is not scary, like some view change. It is perfectly beautiful and peaceful...
When we go with change, with grace, with faith, shift from anxiety into "Life Energy" we find peace and abundance. When we take time to stop and notice each day, we will find calm in the storm.
When we go with change, and view the anxiety against it as "Life Energy" we get strength to be brave and embrace what we are given. When things need to be done, we use this energy to do it in a concise direct way.
Now life is settling in after the shift of change, and in reflection I learn more about the world, myself, the people I meet with everyday. We are all shifting, flowing, fighting it, and learning along the way. When we embrace the beauty that comes with change, we are able to be open to the joy within.
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
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.
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.