Take care of yourself! Do not let your gas tank go on empty! Winter is here... In all seriousness, we feel more stressed, more depleted, more overwhelmed, when we do not make time to take care of ourselves. Self-care means paying bills, doing the thing you've been avoiding, making something, taking a bath, whatever honors what you really need... Schedule self-care time into your life! Find more joy, find more peace, find more fulfillment from your life!
When we fight with our partner, sometimes we don't even know why. Sometimes we become so frustrated and sometimes we are walking on eggshells to avoid the argument. All of this is so common during, what we call, the power struggle phase. "I am so upset about everything from the way the dishwasher is filled to the way they blow their nose! I cannot even breath!"
Take a moment. BREATH. Give yourself a 20 minutes break from whatever is upsetting you. Then really try to understand what we so upsetting to you. Was is the lack of appreciation? Was it the lack connection?
Reach out for help to guide through this phase and find support. You do not have to struggle. Learn to listen and learn to share in a way in which you will be heard. The more practice you have, the easier it will be when it is an emotional time.
My house burned down in the Woolsey fire in November of 2018. Let me tell you, that was definitely unexpected. Over the past few years, I am reminded of the loss of my house because it seems each fire season gets worse and worse. Through my own work, I've learned how to not be re-triggered by each intense fire. I would like to offer special services for those currently experiencing any trauma as it relates to past fires or current fires. Whether you were evacuated or just too close for comfort or you lost everything, you do not have to go through it alone.
I've officially launched my YouTube page. Feel free to follow me there. I will also be posting the links in my blog here and on social media.
"They are so wrong, why can’t they just listen to me?” “I am so angry I might explode.” "Why do they always just do this? I’m so frustrated.” "I hate everything and everyone. If I just had 15 minutes, I would tell them off.” "I really just don’t even want to spend time with them anymore. They make everything miserable!”
Do any of these sound like you? We’ve all had these moments when we just want to explode. When our emotions get the best of us and we can’t even process the world around us.
It’s not your fault. It’s basic science. When something triggers us, we jump from our logical, thinking part of our brain to our emotional, reactive part. It happens in a millisecond.
Here is where it becomes our responsibility. While we want to yell or fight or maybe even just shut down and stonewall the enemy, this is not the best way to handle the situation. Believe it or not, while “this is just the way I am” is the easiest way to handle your emotions, it's not the most advantageous for you.
First, TAKE A BREAK! Seriously, excuse yourself for at least 20 minutes. That’s how long researchers suggest it will take your brain to move from that emotionally triggered place back to that logical thinking place. That doesn’t mean, sit somewhere brooding about what just happened. It means, take a break. Go do something that will take your mind off what just happened, like washing dishes or going for a walk or maybe read a book, even watching a funny tv show.
When you start to calm down, try writing about what happened. When you write about what happened try to stay in the “I feel…” perspective. Try to really grasp what it was that triggered you so much. Then explore what that means to you. Does it remind you of something else? How would you like to handle the situation in the future?
“I felt really hurt when Trish didn’t invite me to go get coffee. I feel like I always invite Trish with me. It makes me feel foolish for thinking we were closer friends than we were. I also feel forgotten about. I wonder if there was a reason Trish forgot to invite me. The story I tell myself is that Trish doesn’t like me as much as I thought. Maybe there is another story. Is there a way to ask Trish about this?”
“I’m feeling so frustrated by my partner because they didn’t put their dishes away. I cannot even count the number of times I have asked for this. I feel like it is so disrespectful because it does not take into consideration my time and my life. I feel less valued. I feel like my partner is saying that - he or she- is better than washing dishes, but I have to wash the dishes because my partner doesn’t. Therefore, I feel like my partner is saying that -he or she- is better than me.”
Great, we’ve written about how the situation makes us feel…Here’s the hard part -
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.
Once the calm has returned to your mind, sometimes it just feels easier to try and forget the moment. Sure, maybe you’ve come to the realization that it really wasn’t that big of a deal. That’s great. But sometimes, we just want to avoid conflict and pretend something didn’t happen. Generally, this leads to resentment and more hurt and an even greater explosion later on.
Here are some pointers in talking about it.
Hopefully, this will be helpful during this stressful time. Always reach out for help or questions!
Let me tell you, lots of people are undecided about it. Maybe you don't know what therapy has to offer--or maybe you're concerned that once it begins, will it ever end? Maybe it just doesn’t make sense, what do you even do in therapy, isn’t it just talking?
Let me just quell a few of these concerns...
1. Therapy ends when you decide therapy ends.
You should never be afraid to end therapy...when you're feeling that it's time. In fact, it is very exciting for me when someone tells me they are ready to end therapy. It means I have done my job successfully. Set up a check-in every month to see how the process is going. If you feel that you aren’t moving forward anymore, then let’s figure it out. You are the decider of when therapy begins and when it ends. And the door's always open if you feel the need to come back.
2. So what does therapy have to offer?
I can offer a number of considerations, always depending upon what you are looking for:
- I’m an impartial listener. I will hear your story without bias. I LISTEN. How many people in your life just listen? I’m not listening with the intention of giving you my opinion. I just listen and together we hear what you are saying.
- I offer some life skills to help you deal with emotions when they feel overwhelming--like how to manage depression or anxiety or even just anger and sadness when they enter the story.
- I offer art therapy as a creative outlet and a different way to explore what's going on.
- We can explore mindfulness and what that means in your life.
- I also just get to be a support so you are not alone. That’s right. You do not have to do it alone.
3. The plain truth is that therapy is what you make it.
I am here to serve your needs. As an impartial listener, I get to hear the words you say and develop a thicker story and meaning with you. Together, we find the deeper voice and the resolution you are looking for. You have the answers. I just get to be a witness to your authentic truth.
Therapy is a place to explore your story. Yes, we talk. Unlike the movies, I do more than just ask “and how did that make you feel?”
It is a place to just be you. How many places in the world do you get to do that?
In my practice, you get to choose if we do traditional talk therapy or if we explore more creative avenues. The best thing to do is just give me a call and we can figure out if you’d like to come see me.
Are you ready to say good-bye to therapy? How do you know? When is it time for therapy to end?
As a therapist, I always want to help my client achieve their goals. When I was in therapy, before I became a therapist, I always felt awkward trying to say good bye to my therapist. Sometimes, it just felt easier to ghost my therapist. Believe it or not, that is not the best way to go.
Staying in therapy is not about how much time you have been there. Some people stay in therapy for years, while others find therapy is only needed for a few months. There is no correct time to be in therapy.
Let’s start with what brought you to therapy to begin with? Look at the goals you created for yourself. Who were you when you began therapy? Are you living in the preferred version of your life? How have you changed?
Talk with your therapist. It is ok to check in regularly about your goals and intentions for therapy. If there is something that is in the preferred version of your life that you are not living, tell your therapist! In fact, set a regular time frame to check in with your therapist on your goals. Goals change as does the preferred version of your life. Perhaps set a plan to audit your work together every 3 months.
When you are ready, ask your therapist to meet every other week. On your week off, experience what it is like to not have therapy. Then, do a once a month check-in or consultation.
Leaving your therapist on a good note helps you practice saying good bye and also leaves the door open to return to that therapist if you need consultation in the future.
Remember, therapy is your time to get what you need. You decide when it begins and when it ends.
A blog about art therapy, EMDR, mindfulness, couples relationship, and anything else that might be an interesting thing to share.
Sara Hulan, MA, Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Associate IMF #97806,