Grief

When we think about grief and grieving, we usually think of the death of a loved one or perhaps if we are experiencing a chronic illness for which there is no cure. However, grief can surface for other reasons, also. A type of grieving takes place when we lose a dream or ideal that we embraced for many years. Loss of dreams or ideals can have a devastating effect on our sense of well-being. We may remain in denial about the loss of these dreams, and as a result may feel disconnected to our self or discontent. The grieving process is one of letting go. I often meet with clients who feel stuck in their anger, disappointment, or resentment. Perhaps they feel that their life has not taken them where they wanted to go. Sometimes they may feel anger or sadness that their partner isn’t able to give them the ideal relationship that they had dreamed he/she would. Another example is feeling disappointment that their parent(s) couldn’t give them the type of love and support that they craved. These scenarios often cannot change to a great extent. We can’t change our parents or it may be too late in our life to fulfill a dream we had when we were young. What do we do when we feel stuck in it? Most of the time, we just try to push it away, but then it tends to resurface at inopportune times and we feel blind-sided by our emotions. Just like grieving the death of a loved one, when we grieve our ideals and dreams, we have to tap into...

Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion

Clients come to see me for a various reasons, however, a pattern that I often see is difficulty with emotions, especially anger. People often try suppressing anger by shoving it down or trying to rid themselves of it, only to find themselves exploding at inappropriate times or boiling over for minor infractions. This situation then reinforces their belief that they need to get rid of their anger. Anger turned inward can have a detrimental affect on an individual. If individuals feel that it’s too dangerous to express or feel angry towards a situation or person, they may turn it inwards, berating their self for feeling the emotion in the first place: “Don’t overreact.” or “You’re being silly.” This self-criticism leaves them feeling shameful and deflated. Holding your anger in can prevent you from accessing your needs. By not accessing it, you avoid making clear statements of what you need, want, or think. People often avoid accessing this emotion because they are afraid that if they express what they truly feel, they will hurt those around them, or create a conflict that they feel is unmanageable. Unfortunately, this over-control can lead to resentment and bitterness. People also experience physiological stress if they over-control their anger. By tightening the jaw and muscles, stifling a shout, or holding your breath, stress occurs. This type of stress reaction from constriction of emotion can contribute to health problems such as stomach ulcers, high blood pressure or tension headaches. Sometimes we use anger to avoid the feelings underneath that anger, such as hurt at being criticized, rejected, or low self-esteem. Rather than feeling sad and...

14 ways to say "I love you"

February is the month of love. We think about our partner, and at times we wish we could reclaim the passion that we felt early in the relationship, or we wonder where it has gone. For the lucky ones, the passion remains and is incorporated into daily life. For the average relationship, though, the intense passion has subsided, especially if the stresses of life, including family life, are part of the equation. Saying “I love you” often means something different 15 years into the relationship than it did 15 months into the relationship. So, how do we continue to show our partner that we are “in love” when the intensity of infatuation has waned? Of course, “I love you” is still very important. No matter how long you have been together, your partner will always appreciate being reminded that you love him. The next 13 ways of saying “I love you” are divided into Appreciation, Apology, and Influence. Showing your partner that she is appreciated lets her know that you are not taking the relationship for granted. Being able to say “I’m sorry” in different ways lets your partner know that you are willing to keep the lines of communication open, even when you disagree. Allowing your partner to influence your decisions or opinions tells your partner that you still find his input valuable. So, how do we say this in our daily life and relationship? (Taken from Gottman’s Repair Checklist) Appreciation Thank you for (e.g. being open about…) One thing I admire about you is… I am thankful for… I know this isn’t your fault. Apology Let me...

Why Do New Year’s Resolutions Fail?

January is New Year’s Resolution season. Many people chose to begin the New Year with a new goal—be it to lose weight, eat healthier, or find a better job. Unfortunately, we often give up on our goal in the first month and then feel that we have failed. Why do we give up on our New Year’s resolution? Part of the reason may be our critical self-talk. Each of us has a critical voice. Once we expose the critical voice, my clients often tell me that their personal critical voice is much harsher than what they would ever say to anyone else. Our critical voice may call us a failure, tell us we’re worthless, and constantly inform us of what we “should” be doing. We don’t speak to other people this way, but we chose to berate ourselves for every mistake. And then what happens inside? We often feel deflated, exhausted, and feel like giving up. Let’s transfer this process to the New Year’s resolution experience. If we are trying to change a long-standing habit, e.g. eating differently, there will be times that our efforts fall short. At this point, the critical voice often kicks in and begins beating us up for our mistake: “You can’t do this.” “You failed.” “You should be able to do this, but you can’t.” Inside, we feel disappointed and defeated. We feel like a failure. This feeling then weighs heavy on us and exhausts us, and we use up our resources to fight it. We may feel overwhelmed by our inability to make progress. Because our resources are depleted, we then find it...

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