Rescuing Your Most Important Relationships

Posts tagged ‘habits’

Starting Off Right

Starting off on the right footAs the New Year begins, sometimes we feel depressed after the hectic holidays.

The celebrations are over, weather is cold, business seems quiet, and you may be at a loss for how to get yourself going again. We can begin to mentally prepare for this coming year by taking time to assess our personal and professional challenges and accomplishments for the past year. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. What have I accomplished this year? Be specific. Write it all down. Schedule some time to celebrate this!

2. What have I learned this year? What skills did you pick up? What emotional lessons?

3. What got in my way? This is where your work will be next year. Be honest if it was your own self that got in the way.

4. Who contributed to my successes? What can you do to recognize these members of your personal or professional team?

5. What mistakes did I make, and what did I learn from them? Writing these down is a good refresher for what not to do next year.

6. How was my work consistent with my values? What will you do with the inconsistencies?

7. Where did I not take responsibility? Sometimes this is easier to see with a little distance from the actual event.

8. How did my performance rate? Give yourself a letter grade or a 1-10 score.

9. What do I need to let go of? Doing so can help you move much more lightly into the new year.

10. What was missing for me this year?

How can you incorporate them into next year?
Doing these exercises can be a huge benefit to starting your year of on the right foot.

 

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Coping with a Loved One’s Mental Illness

Witnessing the suffering of a loved one can be one of the most difficult situations we face. Among other things, we may feel powerless, frustrated and frightened. That’s true whether the suffering originates from a physical illness or injury, addiction or self-destructive activity.

When a loved one suffers a debilitating, persistent and chronic mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, those feelings can be compounded. Strange, unpredictable behaviors can be terrifying and confusing. Your loved one may suddenly rage at you with blame or be utterly dependent upon you for basic needs and emotional stability.

You may experience many confusing emotions yourself, including anger, grief, guilt, fear and sadness. As you struggle with each episode of illness and worry about the future, you may feel anxious and overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, since serious mental illness still carries a stigma, you may be keeping it a secret, resulting in increased isolation, frustration and difficulty because you may have no one to talk to about your feelings or no way to get information and support.

Read next weeks post to find out how To Help Yourself in coping with mental illness. . .

Self-Sabotage. . . Continued

Recognizing self-defeating thoughts and behavior is the first step to change. Many experts agree that to change the behavior, people must change their thinking. Therefore, the first step is to observe ourselves and our thoughts.

The next step is to take full responsibility for our thoughts and behavior-so that we control them and they stop controlling us. If we accept that we are doing this to ourselves, we can also understand that we have the power to change.

Self-observation is a powerful tool against the behaviors that defeat us. For example, Stan could take his son fishing and be careful to be positive and to stay silent when he feels a
criticism rising in his throat. To do this, he would first have to decide that a good relationship with his son was more important that being “right.”

Setting a goal is the next step. Without blame or shame, choose one behavior to change. For example, Patricia could decide not to be late anymore. To do this, she would have to decide that something was more important than being late-a job she loves, for example. One tactic might be to write a positive affirmation each night in a journal, or set her clock an hour early, or enlist a friend to call her for a week, reminding her to walk out the door. After a while, the rewards of being on time could become greater than the self-defeating cycle of being late.

It’s not easy to change patterns of self-sabotage, but with time and practice-and a good dose of self-love-it is possible to end a self-defeating cycle and live the life we truly want. (AFC 2012)

Saving Yourself From Self-Sabotage

When he was a boy, Stan vowed he’d never be a father like his own father-aloof, critical and emotionally unavailable. Yet, 30 years later, he catches himself treating his son harshly and constantly judging him for not measuring up.

Patricia loves her job and her boss. The only thorn is that her boss prizes punctuality and Patricia just can’t seem to be on time for anything, whether it’s a team meeting or that project that was due last week. What Stan and Patricia have in common is the all-too-common disease called self- sabotage. It eats away inside, creating a cycle of self-destruction with the result that we aren’t really living the

life we want for ourselves. Self-sabotage “hides inside us and toils against our best interest. If we don’t succeed in identifying and owning this sinister part, we can never be free,” says Stanley Rosner, author of The Self-Sabotage Cycle: Why We Repeat Behaviors That Create Hardships and Ruin Relationships.

Recognizing Self-Sabotaging Behavior

Numerous studies show that women are more prone to lower self-esteem and self-doubting thoughts. This leads to self-sabotaging behavior, according to author Nancy Good. In her book Slay Your Own Dragons: How Women Can Overcome Self-Sabotage in Love and Work, she lists several signs of self-defeating behavior that women (and men) can recognize:

  • Being overly passive, fearful, listless or indecisive, so that chances pass us by.
  • Having a chronically chaotic financial situation.
  • Being controlled by depression and anxiety.
  • Being controlled by compulsive behaviors to abuse alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food, physical exercise, etc. Being compulsively late. Expressing anger inappropriately.
  • Being mistreated by partners and spouses. Being stuck in an unhappy relationship but doing nothing to change the situation. Having a series of unsatisfying relationships.

Read next week for steps towards change on overcoming self-sabotage. . .

(AFC 2012)

A Quick Note on Appreciation

A powerful tool in relationships is appreciation. This gesture packs a lot of meaning and demonstrates that one is thoughtful and observant. Saying appreciations can tear down walls and help the other feel safe and secure, which are indispensable foundations of a healthy relationship.

I believe that showing appreciation is much easier in the beginning stages of a relationship when the passion is more intense. As relationships mature, the thoughtful actions of our partners seems more routine and expected rather than demonstrations of caring. We can easily overlook the remarkable qualities our partner’s posses and all that they do!

For example, your partner may choose to make coffee for you in the morning. She/He may choose to make the bed, prepare you a meal, get the children ready for school, give you space, clean the gutters, fix something that is broken, etc. Your partner doesn’t have to do these things; rather, your partner does them out of love.

Here are some tips for effectively showing appreciation:

1) Make sure there are no distractions and ask your partner if he/she has a few moments to talk. If now is not a good time, ask when it would be a good time.

2) Face your partner and look into his/her eyes because the eyes are the windows to the soul! If you touch each other, even better!

3) Think about what you want to say and phrase things positively. For example, instead of saying, “I appreciate when you don’t react to me,” say, “I appreciate when you really listen to me.”

4) State what you appreciate and deepen the moment by saying why it is important to you.

This potent relationship tool is essential in relationships. Appreciations are often overlooked as we can easily take our partners for granted. I encourage each of you to be observant in your relationships. I encourage you to recognize the amazing person who is your partner, recognize all that he/she does, and most importantly, tell them!

Bryan Norman 2011

Albuquerque Family Counseling Events

Here is a line up of what is coming up in the next few months at AFC:

  • Men’s Anger Group, begins monthly on Thursday evenings
  • Women’s Anger Group, begins monthly on Wednesday evenings
  • Co-parenting Group, begins Wednesday August 24, for 6 weeks
  • “Keeping Your Love Alive” Couples Conference, Saturday October 22nd.

See our website for more information. All groups and classes require registration in advance.

Book of the Month

US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships that Matter Most
by Lisa Oz

Being social creatures, we yearn for connection but often fall into bad habits that interfere with our ability to have rewarding relationships. We begin to see ourselves as alone, isolated, or at odds with the rest of the universe.

Included are imaginative exercises meant to help you gain new insight into old behavior patterns and to encourage you to be an active, empowered agent for positive change in your relationships. Lisa’s writing on topics such as personal well-being, identifying your authentic self, conscious parenting, marital bonding, and truly compassionate living are persuasive because they are suggestive rather than prescriptive. A truly inspiring read.

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