Rescuing Your Most Important Relationships

Posts tagged ‘criticism’

Coping with Mental Illness. . . Continued

How to Help Yourself. When you’re in the middle of a chaotic or confusing situation, taking care of yourself can be the last thing you think of, yet, it is crucial.

According to NAMI, the National Association for the Mentally Ill, here are a few ways to do that:

Educate yourself about mental illness. Read everything you can about your loved one’s condition, its treatment options, as well as tools and strategies for coping with the illness and minimizing relapses. NAMI has a wealth of written and audio material, as well as 1,200 local U.S chapters.

Seek support. You do not have to suffer in silence. NAMI offers free support groups for loved ones as well as a HelpLine: 1-800-950-6264. You can find enormous relief from sharing your thoughts and feelings in a supportive environment among those who understand.

 Accept the reality of the situation. While you can offer valuable support and love, you cannot cure your loved one’s mental disorder. His or her symptoms may get better or they may get worse. Hospitalization may be necessary. Medication can restore stability and functionality, but may not heal the condition. You may have to lower your expectations of what your loved one can do. For instance, he or she may only be able to work part-time or, in some cases, not at all.

Set boundaries and clear limits. If you feel strong resentment, you are giving too much. If you need a break from the situation, find a way to get it. Don’t tolerate violent behavior. As hard as it is, consider if you need to leave the situation or make other arrangements for care.

Don’t lose hope. Advances in our understanding and treatment of severe and chronic mental illness occur every day. People get better and learn effective ways to cope. Relapses can become less common and shorter in duration.

While your loved one may never completely heal, and coping with the situation may challenge you like nothing else, it is possible to learn how to manage the stress of the situation as you care for your loved one as well as yourself.

AFC 2012


7 Tips to Fighting Fairly

Many of us don’t like having conflict with our partners. It can be uncomfortable. However, it’s a very normal and even healthy part of a relationship, that is, as long as it’s done fairly. Bottom line: it’s about respect. You can be really angry and express those feelings in a respectful manner. Below are 7 tips that will help you keep the argument at a healthy level:

1)      Your partner is not your enemy. Without realizing it, when you begin to argue with your partner, you may be seeing them as a foe rather than a friend.

2)      Use “I” statements to say what is bothering you. Own your thoughts and feelings. Use a variation of the following phrase: “I felt_____ when you said/did ______.”

3)      Stick with one point at a time. If you tell your partner about all the things that are bothering you, your partner will feel overwhelmed, become defensive, and attack or shut down.

4)      Focus on behaviors, not the person. Avoid attacking the person. Focus on specific things he or she says or does that bother you.

5)      Avoid exaggerations. Using words like “never” and “always” are extreme and unrealistic. None of us is “always” or “never” doing this or that. Stick to your take on what has specifically happened.

6)      Leave the past in the past. If past mistakes are frequently brought into the present, it makes it very difficult for the relationship to heal. It’s like picking a scab over and over until a nasty scar forms.

7)      You can always call a truce. When an argument is getting to an atomic level, it’s time to call a truce. Usually people who want space will need to provide some reassurance to their partner so that they can walk away.

If you follow these 7 tips, you’ll find that arguments can be more easily kept at a respectful level. Maybe the outcome of the argument won’t be what you wanted (like an immediate resolution), but if you can keep the conflict at a healthy level, you won’t be experiencing the shame or guilt of handling the argument in an unhealthy way.

Bryan Norman 2011

Have YOU ever thought about cheating on your partner?

Have YOU ever thought about cheating on your partner? Chances are that you have, and if so, you aren’t alone. Some research numbers say that as many as 60% of all couples will experience infidelity in their relationship. That’s 6 out of every 10 relationships that might have a cheating partner. If we accept these numbers, not only are there thoughts about cheating, there’s also quite a bit of action around cheating. Sounds pretty high, doesn’t it?

We all know that no relationship is perfect, and that there are many stages and phases we go through in our relationships that are less than ideal.  Some of these stages are so uncomfortable that we may find ourselves wishing that we had a different, better relationship.

Well, for those of you that feel this way, here’s the news:

I have a new book out, “Keep Your Pants On: Preventing Infidelity in your Marriage that addresses these concerns. This book was written as a direct response to all of my clients that struggle with their thoughts about cheating on their partner. While these thoughts can be a normal experience for some, it’s the taking action on these thoughts that becomes a big problem when we are in a committed relationship.

Infidelity is extremely painful for the partners that are going through it; it is also painful for the therapists working with these issues to witness the damage. That is where the original idea of this book took off- trying to prevent infidelity before it happens, to stop the actions of cheating before it is too late.

Keep Your Pants On has been reviewed by several experts in the field of couples and relationship counseling, and includes their own testimonials plus others on my advisory team. The book includes interactive exercises, action steps and “RSS Feeds” (Relationship Super Strategies) to help support your choice of commitment within your relationship. There is also a brand new website, that has even more information.

I am so excited about finally finishing this book that I am making a special offer to you for the month of September– giving you a free copy of the book!  If you are an active client at AFC you can get one from your therapist at your next session, or you can come in to the office and pick one up from Sarah, our administrative assistant. I do have one request- if you like the book, go to Amazon and say so by writing a review. If you don’t like it, just tell ME! I really hope that you take advantage of this offer, to help strengthen your relationship and prevent infidelity with your partner.

Finally, this book is truly a labor of love for my clients; past, present and future. And for anyone else who struggles with these problems- this one’s for you.

Kelly Chicas 2011

Desist and Resist

Author Stephen Pressfield suggests that anytime one takes on a new project or tries to make a change, Resistance is automatically and inevitably called forth (“Resistance never sleeps,” he decries). This Resistance will use any and all tricks in the book to get you to stop whatever project or change you are making.

And the Resistance is very persuasive:

  • “You’ll never be able to pull this off,” it tells you.
  • Or, “Do it next week. This week is too busy.”
  • Or, “I don’t feel like it.”
  • Or, “It’s too hard.”
  • Or, “I’m scared.”
  • Or, “I’ll get to it someday.”
  • Or, “I don’t have enough time or money.”
  • Or it creates a certain feeling in your body or attitude in your mind (fatigue, depression, pain, resignation, discouragement, fear, etc.).
  • Or, “[Fill in your Resistance’s favorite phrases or tactics.]”

Here are some of the common activities that call for Resistance:

1.       Any artistic or creative project

2.       Any entrepreneurial venture

3.       Any diet or health regimen

4.       Stopping some compulsion or addiction

5.       Educational/in-depth training pursuits

6.       Any commitment of the heart (getting married; having a child; weathering a difficult period in a relationship)

7.       Taking a principled stand in the face of adversity, criticism or sacrifice

8.       Leaving an unhealthy situation

Here are some ways to bypass or overcome Resistance and move forward:

Take action

As long as it is in the right direction, any action will help loosen the grip of Resistance on you.

Example: If you want to write a book, sit down and write. If nothing comes to mind (a good trick Resistance uses is blankness and lack of inspiration), write about why you can’t write or aren’t writing as a way to prime the pump.

Example: If you want to exercise get up and walk around the block one time. You don’t have to train for a marathon, just start moving. Or even more minimally, lay out your exercise togs.

Find an accountability partner or group who will hold you accountable and call you forward when your energy or commitment flags.

Get an exercise buddy; find a supportive and accountability partner with whom you can check in regularly and who promises to effectively to hold you to your word; join a writing group (find the right one)

Start before you are ready or the conditions are right

One of the Resistance’s favorite tricks is to convince you that there will be some ideal conditions (when I get that new computer or after the new holidays or when the kids grow up) or time in the future when you can begin such a monumental task or change.

Get around this by taking Resistance by surprise and starting now. He won’t have time to muster his arguments and tactics to stop you.

Ignore your feelings and unhelpful thoughts

As a psychotherapist, I love to tell people this. Your feelings and thoughts are helpful for deciding and knowing what direction to pursue, but once you figure that out, ignore your feeling and any unhelpful thoughts that arise.

Thank them for sharing their perspectives with you and keep progressing in the right direction. Feelings and thoughts are helpful advisors but poor masters.

Recent studies in the brain plasticity show us that people can change, but because the brain and neurology gets grooved, change often feels unnatural, uncomfortable and strange. Keep going past this sense and “re-groove” yourself.

By Bill O’Hanlon

Good Battle

Ban blame, and outlaw the words never and always. Criticism, contempt, confrontation and hostility are like gas on a fire and can burn your relationship to the ground. Keep a verbal fire extinguisher within reach. If an argument is spiralling out of control, try one of these techniques.

  • Change the subject, inject gentle humor, and show some extra appreciation. If it’s too late, bail out now. You can always come back when the fire is on simmer and resume when you have both cooled off.
  • Never fight when you are hungry, fatigued, or intoxicated. Being tired or hungry will unleash words that cannot be taken back. Break out the bubbly after you have resolved things.
  • Focus on the environment – turn off the tv, laptop or iPod. Resolving differences with your partner is too important to do on the fly. Giving them your undivided attention opens lines of communication and builds intimacy.
  • Listen, listen, and listen some more. Even if you can accurately predict exactly what your mate is going to say, hear them out. Just like you were taught in kindergarten, it’s about feelings and your partner’s need to be heard. Don’t interrupt, offer a solution, or defend yourself too soon. Nod your head, rephrase or just say “um-hum” to show that you are respectful of the emotions behind the words.
  • Rehearse this useful phrase “I’m sorry“. Everyone makes mistakes, and apologies are crucial for the health of your relationship.

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