Marriage = Team

I work with many couples. One of the most frequent happenings in a troubled marriage (read committed relationship) is that they take sides. It starts to be “me against you”, the finger pointing, blaming, shaming, guilting, etc. It all leads to distance, emotional and physical, which leads to resentment. Here is a tip, which might sound easier than it really is.

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Marriage = Team

Basically, partners need to remember they are on the same TEAM. The same side, going for the same goal, headed in the same direction. Hold hands and face the world TOGETHER. It is about US against the world, not each other.

However, how does that help trouble INSIDE the marriage. Aha! Take that TEAM principle and apply it to everything.

For example, money issues (common problem in marriages). Take the budget and tackle it as US against the BUDGET. The problem should be outside of the team. Literally put it on the table. What do WE need to do to make it work. The collective “we” shares blame and does not shame. No finger pointing or judging. Here is the budget, how do we make it work together?  If one person is overspending, address it as “It seems we overspent on food this month. How can we fix it?” If one person is having trouble staying on budget, ask for help. “I am having difficulty sticking to this plan. Can you help me figure it out?” You are both on the same team. 

This is mostly about using team oriented language and how you view the relationship. Avoid language that blames, like sentences that start with you. If you find you are having a lot of difficulty with this concept, you might need more help from a professional, book or class.

Strength of Affirmations

We have all heard the story of the The Little Engine that Could that made it over the mountain chanting “I think I can. I think I can.”  It is the simplest version of an affirmation there is. Giving ourselves strength through thought.

Affirmations are a means to “affirm” or strengthen and implant a belief in your head. It is to believe that something is true or exists. If you think you have never used these, think about all those sayings your parents or teachers had you still remember. For example: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”

Some of those thought patterns can be positive or negative. They also run your life. No matter what kind of thought patterns you have, they determine what you do, what you think, how you feel about things and yourself. If you grew up in a negative home with emotional or physical abuse. You may have little trust in yourself. You may not believe that you deserve to be happy or have a good relationship or job.

Ok, so what. I got a bunch of junk in my head telling me I’m a bad person. Thanks a lot. That’s not really my point.

You have the power to change those thought patterns

How? By creating some positive affirmations that speak to you. You can come up with some positive messages that change the negatives and make it stick! It really can be done. I recently wrote up on my mirror in dry erase marker, my favorite place for affirmations, You deserve gratification. This is related to my post on pleasure vs gratification. I want to remind myself that my goals are life long, not immediate. I want happiness, not numbness.

When creating an affirmation, think of a reoccuring negative pattern in your life. Usually something you want to change, but don’t know how. What is behind that? Often it is because we don’t think we deserve to be happy or have good things. One of the most common ones I prescribe is  I deserve happiness

An emoticon with a smile. For more emoticons i...

Here’s the rules:

  1. Put is where you can see everyday, several times. Mirror, door, car.
  2. It needs to be positive. Don’t use: No, not, don’t, won’t, can’t shouldn’t, etc
  3. Present tense. I am, I can. no will, some day, in the future. TODAY!
  4. Be Specific. A good life, good relationship… too vague.
  5. Make it personal. Every affirmation starts with I
  6. Don’t use more than 3 at a time. It’s too much.
  7. Change one at a time when you think it sticks. NOT when it makes you mad, cause it’s working if it’s challenging your thinking.

Visualize your Goal

I have heard in many different ways and in many different forms that you must know where you are going in order to get there. Huh? You must visualize the end result to accomplish your goal. 

For example, my neighbor is 22. He was going to college, but dropped out to work because he had no clue what he wanted to do. He can easily get stuck in his current job, working at a tire store, for a very long time, trying to figure out what he wants to do or just sustaining life (barely). He can also take some action. He needs to look at a “map,” talk with an academic advisor or take some career tests. He won’t get where he wants to go unless he knows where he is going.

I know a lot of people who want to lose weight. I recently saw a new “program” for weight loss that included “brain training.”  The idea was that we do better with goals if we can visualize what we would look like at the end. I like the idea of visualizing your end result. Buying a program for it, not so much. If you want to get fit and healthy, what does that look like? Are you thin, tone, a certain size, lower blood pressure, healthy eat habits? There are so many ways to look at it! Any way you do it, you have know what the end result looks like or you will never get there.

With my clients I ask what they would like to accomplish in therapy. The answer is often the absence of something negative, like depression, anxiety, troubled past or relationship. Very few people have a good understanding of what they would like their happier alternative life to be. I often ask “what would that look like?” What is your end game? When it is said and done, what would your life, as a movie, look like? If you don’t know, you will never get there.

TRY THIS

CREATING YOUR VISUALIZATION

Do you have a goal in your life? Anything, lose weight, clean out the closet, finish school, eat healthier, learn gardening.

You can start with an easy one. Let’s choose organizing a space (ok, easy for some).

  1. GOAL: Organize desk (yep, that is what I am looking at)
  2. What do I want: Clean, less cluttered, easy to find things, more work space
  3. What does that look like: Organized files, colorful folders, shelves…    create a mental picture here. You can research spaces you are interested in for inspiration.

Research is your friend. Once you choose your goal, you will need to create a map. That map will show you how to get to that goal. Often times you will need some professional help to get there, like school, books, nutritionist or doctor. When you can see what that end result looks like, you can put one foot in front of the other to get there. Remember the Reward and keep the visualization in your mind (or pinned to your bathroom mirror).

Pleasure vs Gratification

I was recently reading a book called Radically Free by Drs Kennedy and Warren. They refer to a principle in Dr.Pleasure is an immediate and momentary bodily delight (like chocolate) whereas Gratification is engaging, intellectual pursuits wherein we get long term enjoyment (like raising children and hobbies). Following pleasure leads us in circles, always looking for more pleasure. Following gratification leads us to enrichment and growth.

School Choice HQ

Now that being said, do we never engage in pleasure? Are they completely separate ideas? No to both. I believe that they overlap. I engage in many hobbies. As I am enjoying creating a project, crocheting or quilting, I am getting some immediate pleasure. It also gives me gratification in my finished work, pride of accomplishment, and intellectual stimulation. It becomes a part of who I am. All those pieces of gratification lead up to who you are, your values and standards.

Pleasures are immediate and short lived. Once the pleasurable feeling is satiated, it’s over. They lend nothing to your self worth or value as a person.  For example, I love popcorn. I could eat it everyday. It would not mean much to me nor lend anything to me, but poor diet. It would interfere with my gratification of a healthy diet and body. Though, I can enjoy some popcorn on occasion for pleasure.

Are there pleasures that interfere with your overall gratification?

How can you adjust the scale to have more gratification in your life?

Dr Martin Segliman’s website has some great information, including a Happiness Quiz. I will definitely be revisiting this topic again. I would rather strive toward something positive than just avoid something negative.

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Dimensions of life

There are several areas or dimensions in your life which incorporate your health and wellness. You can probably name a few right off the bat: physical and emotional.  When you look at all you do and how how each area is addressed, many of us are lacking in one or more areas. Having a balance is key. Just like everything else, we need to maintain balance.

The dimensions as identified by World Health Organization

WHO dimensions

  1. Physical:  the process of making choices to create flexible, cardiovasculary fit, energetic, strong bodies
  2. Intellectual:  the process of using our minds to create a greater understanding and appreciation of the universe and ourselves
  3. Emotional:  the process accepting our worth, creating, recognizing and expressing our feelings and talking to ourselves in healthy way.
  4. Spiritual: the process of discovering meaning and purpose in life and demonstrating values through behaviors.
  5. Social:  the process of creating and maintaining healthy relationships through the choices we make.
  6. Occupational: the process of making and maintaining choices related to work which include choosing a job for which we are well-suited, well-trained, and from which we gain satisfaction.
  7. Environmental: the process of making choices which will contribute to the sustaining or improving the quality of life in the universe.

Each of these areas should be addressed daily. The physical can be easy, sleeping at least 7 hours a night, eating healthy, and exercising. Notice how each dimensions includes healthy choices. We can easily address each area with unhealthy choices or ignore it completely. That would make you out of balance. Which could lead you to feeling like you are missing something. Everyone feels differently when they are out of balance. Some people become depressed or ill and then all areas suffer. Often when people are suffering in one dimension, it seeps into the others.

Now, what happens when you are out of balance? How do the others areas suffer when you are sick, stressed, tired, hungry, feeling worthless or overwhelmed?

TRY THIS:

Look at each dimension. Write down what you do to address each area in a healthy way.

Example:   Physical: sleep 7 hours, eat vegetables daily, walk for 30 minutes 2 times week

Spiritual: attend church, volunteer, treat people kindly

Emotional: talk with friend and sister at least 3 times a week. Talk to husband about concerns

Then, write down ways you might be unhealthy in each area.

Example:   Physical: eat fast food everyday

Emotional: lock myself in room when angry or sad, refuse to interact

How might you change some of those unhealthy patterns to healthy ones?Are any of your dimensions out of whack? Do you spend more time in one area than any other? Are you suffering? How can you balance out your dimensions so that each area is addressed daily?

How you do Anything is how you do Everything

If you look at your life, how you perform your life, how you organize your time, your papers, your relationships, and work, you will see a pattern. If you ever question “why?” you do what you do, just look around.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Living-Room-Organized-Before-and-After

I can use a personal example for this. My kitchen is clean, not neat. I leave appliances on the counter, often have stacks of paper or piles I need to sort, mail, and my kid’s crayons and school work. My life is similar. It is pretty much in order. There are several things I need to sort through, throw away, put away, decide if it is necessary or if I am holding onto it for no reason.

Most of my house is like this. Which means I am fairly consistent. I try to organize and give everything a home. Though, all those “in process” items are still out. I have a neighbor that keeps an immaculate kitchen and front room. The rest of her house is in shambles with piles and piles or toys, papers, blankets, shoes, clothes, all behind closed doors. What might this say about her?

How is your house? Messy, dirty, clean, shambles, piled, in process, hidden, cluttered…

Can you relate your environment to your life? Does it fit?

Can you see something you can change that might change your life?

You only know what you know

I have several “sayings” that I use often. I will eventually share all of these with you. One of my favorites seems so obvious.

You only know what you know  Big Idea Team

Of course, we can not know things we have not learned yet. New information and different ways of doing things and thinking about things are out there. We just have to find them. We also need to understand that, maybe, our way of doing things is not working for us.

We do what we know; what we have learned growing up, in school, in church, from friends and family. If you are finding that the way you have always done things is not working. What’s next? Is there another way? How do you even figure out how to do that? When you are blue in the face, cried for too long, frustrated with the dead ends. Look for a new way. That might mean asking for help.

It may seem obvious, but until we understand that perhaps we need to learn a new way; the way we have always done things does not work, you can not see it.

Welcome!

My intention of this blog is to post some advice, ideas, counsel, if you will, on life. I would like to share what I have learned and know and what works. Some posts may be just advice. Others may include a bit on how to try something new at home. Please feel free to contact me under comments or even send a private message. You could visit my website for more information about my practice.