Every Couple Has Unsolvable Problems

Every Couple Has Unsolvable Problems

The idea that “every couple has unsolvable problems” sounds depressing.   That statement probably wouldn’t make a single person eager to get hitched.   Even thought this is a fact but it doesn’t spell doom for most relationships.   Once you comprehend this reality it’s a bit freeing in a sense.

Here’s a paraphrase of Dan Wile from his book “After The Honeymoon”:

“There is value in choosing a long term partner and realizing you will be choosing a set of unsolvable problems you’ll have for the next ten, twenty, or even fifty years.”

Most divorces and affairs occur due to these “unsolvable problems.”  Don’t kid yourself by thinking the grass will be greener with someone else.  If you leave your husband or wife and pick someone else you will only be choosing another set of unsolvable problems.  Perhaps the second set of unsolvable problems will be worse than your first set.   Problem is that often times couples don’t have a clue what these problems are until they are married a few years.   You will not find a marriage without perpetual and unsolvable problems.

For instance: Wife is a neat freak and husband leaves his underwear on the floor of the bedroom because he’s got “big” things on his mind.   This drives the wife NUTS!  She has repeatedly nagged him to “just put them in the laundry hamper!”  Husband claims he just didn’t think of it because he has been preoccupied with getting the bills paid, which he always manages to do even with the family’s small income.   But wife trades in her husband for another man that shows interest in her and who is a super neat freak.   She thinks “this will solve the problem I had with husband number one, him not keeping the house clean and respecting how hard I work to keep a orderly house.”   So she realizes new husband will keep the house very clean and she has less to do around the house and for a few years she is in heaven!   But the honeymoons ends abruptly.  After a few years wife begins noticing some patterns.  Husband number two is not concerned with how they will pay the bills and in fact often spends lots of money on things they don’t really need.  In a few short years this leads to their financial ruin.   Wife wishes she‘d learned to cope with underwear on the home’s floor in marriage number one because now she doesn’t even own a home; the bank foreclosed on it!

The difference between a happy marriage and one in trouble is how you address and cope with perpetual and unsolvable problems.  Realize that the grass is not green on the other side of the fence, it’s just a different type of grass but all lawns have weeds!

 

Can The Death of a Celebrity Cause Sincere Mourning?

Can The Death of a Celebrity Cause Sincere Mourning?

Short answer: Yes! A death of a celebrity can really cause a sincere mourning process!

This blog post was promoted from this post by Huffington Post.  Give it a read; it has a few tips for grieving the loss of a celebrity.

We’ve lost a ton of celebrities this year and it’s only April!  Most of these celebrities I didn’t know their work.  I have a friend whose young daughter was very infatuated with David Bowie.   My friend could attest, I’m sure, that her daughter has mourned his loss!  All of the mother’s friends knew of her daughter’s dream to one day marry Bowie.   There was a serious outpouring of condolences for this child when we heard that Mr. Bowie had passed away.   I was sad for Bowie’s loss but his music was not as much a part of my childhood and teen years as was Prince’s music.

So for the first time in my life I’m sincerely grieving the death of a celebrity and I know many of my friends are.   I’m not racked with grief as though I’ve lost a close friend but I do feel the loss.   Several times in my life I longed to attend one of his concerts but due to time or limiting resources it never happens for me and this is a loss for me.  I will never have that experience I had planned to one day have.

Music has always been very important to me throughout my life.   I spent my first two years of college as a music major on a full-ride scholarship for my vocal talents.   I only have a few artists that I love enough to grieve their death probably because I attempt to keep a close grip on idol worship in my life.

I realize a large part of my grieving process is because Prince’s music provided a sound track to my younger years and his death brings home the realization that I’m not a teenager anymore.  Yes I’m over 40 and although I know I’m a full-fledged adult feeling it is a different matter all together.   I know I’m not alone in this feeling of not realizing I’m an adult some days.   When we have enjoyed the talents of celebrities for decades of our lives it drives home the realization of our own impending death, especially when didn’t expect the death.   Robin William’s death was upsetting to me as well since I know I will no longer enjoy his acting talents in a new movie.  I think since Prince was a musician his passing hits me a bit harder because music can touch the soul.

Grieving the death of a celebrity you never met is not silly or a waste of time, it’s part of the process of realizing that nothing lasts forever and  everyone’s time here on earth is short.  So be sure to not waste a day of this life!

“Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called LIFE
Electric word, life.”

Women’s Expectations of Themselves

 

Women’s Expectations of Themselves

Women are being sold a bill of goods and most of it buy it without questioning if its good for our mental and emotional well-being.  It’s the bill of goods that mass and social media is selling us. I have often found in my counseling work and in my social life that women’s expectations of themselves are totally unrealistic and yet this is normal and some of us believe it’s healthy!   Women struggle with not feeling good enough and falling short of “perfect” constantly.   Let me point out the obvious “PERFECT IS NOT REAL, THERE’S NO SUCH THING LADIES!”   We have expectations placed on us that men do not.   Now days many of us are expected to be educated and hold a career while also having most of the duty of organizing, cleaning and running a home.  Once a woman becomes a mother she f(or most families) is in charge of child rearing.  She is probably also in charge of making sure the family’s schedule runs smoothly.   Most women try balancing work, family and (the big one) looking a certain way and most of us struggle to keep up the balancing act.  I know some women that can juggle well for a little while, but when a crisis strikes a ball will eventually be dropped in order to attend to the crisis.   Society place expectations on women that we must not age and we must stay a size 2 all the while juggling several roles and numerous responsibilities.   Our society defines attractiveness for men by power, wealth and status largely leaving out the issues of physical attractiveness or not emphasized as much as it is for women. 

I have women clients that struggle with depression and self-hatred largely because they have fallen hook, line and sinker for society’s notions without examining them for themselves.   The have assumed “well if everyone says this is who I should be, should act like, should look like then I should try and be that person.”  Then when they fall short (and they will) then they feel like horrible disappointments.

I don’t know any woman that is doing all the following perfectly: holding down a 40 hour work week or full college class load, running and maintaining a home, cooking all the meals, cleaning the home, doing  and putting away laundry in a timely manner, taking care of her children, managing their school and/or lessons/sports schedule, grocery and supply shopping for the family, keeping her children well clothed, keeping in touch with friends, taking care of her hair, nails and skin, exercising daily, maintaining a flawless figure even after childbirth, paying the bills, advancing in her career, has deep friendship with at least 3 women and spends time with them regularly, has a good marriage and is constantly working with her husband to improve their relationship, is parenting well and helping their children not only succeed academically but helping them develop their emotional IQ and social skills, has good relationships with all her family members and in-laws, attends to spiritual needs daily (spending time with God or her higher power), attends a church or a some social meeting that benefits herself and community, volunteers her time to help the less fortunate, is trying to better herself with learning new things daily, keeping up with current events and staying active on social media.  Attending timely to unexpected things that come up like, someone in the family gets sick, damage to the home, the washing machine is broken or a car repair needs repair without dropping the ball on all the previous items I listed. This is not an exhaustive list; I just can’t think of anything else at the moment. 

How many women do you know that can do all of these well, all of the time without having any difficulty?   Now I know that some women rely (as they should) on help from their spouse to help them take care of the above list as they should but many women try to do it all without help from anyone.   That’s just not realistic!!!  Ladies look at your expectations and where they came from and start to question them!  Start with trying to put these expectations into words in order to uncover if they are realistic expectations.  Ask yourself where did these expectations come from? How and when did you begin to internalize these expectations?  Whose approval are you seeking by trying to meet all these expectations?   Perhaps once you have really examined these expectations you will begin to change or discard some of them all together.

 

Mindfulness and Meditation: The Hot Trend

Mindfulness and Meditation: The Hot Trend

In 2015 the mindfulness and meditation became the latest hot trend.  The mindfulness and meditation industry raked in nearly $1 billion, according to research by IBISWorld in 2015!  Why all the sudden has the meditation and mindfulness industry exploded?

First lets look at what we’re talking about:  Meditation is not a new practice it’s been around for a long time, some scholars say it dates back to 20 BC.

According to Wikipedia

The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.  Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way.  Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health concerns, such as high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.

Mindfulness is not the same as Meditation.

According to Psychology Today

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present.  When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad.  Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

Research shows there are numerous health benefits including effective pain management have been attributed to mindfulness practice.

So back to my initial question why is mediation or the new version “mindfulness” so popular?   I believe it’s because the human race on the whole had become so technologically advanced and we think “oh now I have more time to do more” instead of relaxing more.   Most people feel they must achieve to feel worthy and worthwhile which is resulting in increased daily stress and anxiety.

For many years many people believed the answer could be found in prescription medications for anxiety and depression and the pharmaceutical companies prospered.   Now I believe people are starting to realize that perhaps the drug’s sides effects at not worth it and attempting a more holistic route seems logical.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying anything against mindfulness and meditation.   In fact, I have found great personal benefit to it and have recently incorporated formal practice of mindfulness into my weekly routine.  Prayer has already been in my daily routine for sometime and I consider prayer a type of meditation.   What I find interesting is how people are paying a lot of money to attending mindful and meditation workshops when these are not difficult practices to learn on your own.   I think buying a inexpensive mindfulness cd by Jon Kabat-Zinn is a better option for incorporating natural ways to de-stress.    I just wanted to point out although you may be helping the industry of meditation prosper more when you buy a cd on meditation or mindfulness or any of the new apps out there, there are also inexpensive ways for you to learn a very beneficial practice.  Try the less expensive methods first so that your bank account doesn’t suffer.   After all most of us know how stressful financial problems can be!

Living With Grief

Living With Grief

I’m sure many of you have heard of the five stages of grief which was discovered and researched by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
1 – Denial.
2 – Anger.
3 – Bargaining.
4 – Depression.
5 – Acceptance.

Well this research was originally done on dying patients dealing wit their own impending death.  These are actually stages of dying but some similar emotions are experienced when someone copes with the loss of a loved one.

Lots have been written about this over the years.  But another topic that I would add to the discussion is additional things to be aware of when you are coping with a loss.

Coping with death is vital to you mental health and to the significant relationships in your life. The best way to work through your grief is allow yourself feel the feelings and be aware of attempts to numb feelings.

Most of us engage in behaviors (consciously or not) that help us numb our feelings to take the edge off of pointy and sharp feelings like pain, vulnerability and discomfort. We do this by eating (too much or unhealthy foods), drinking, spending sprees, gambling, saving the world, incessant gossiping, perfectionism and 60-hour work weeks.   To grief well we need to learn to lean into the discomfort of hard emotions.   -Adapted from Brené Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection

Here’s a nice short list of some ways to help yourself cope with a loss.

  • Take care of your health.  Maintain regular medical check ups with your family doctor and be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest.  Be aware of the danger of developing a dependence on medication or alcohol to deal with your grief.  Or for that respect doing anything excessively even if it appears to be a “good” thing can escalate into a problem in your life.
  • Seek out caring people.  Find relatives and close friends who can understand your feelings of loss.  Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.

       Online Support : dailystrength.org

onlinegriefsupport.com

       To find a local support group:

griefshare.org

  • Express your feelings.  Tell others that you can trust how you are feeling; it will help you to work through the grieving process.  Often time once you express your feelings you will find you are not alone and being alone in any negative feeling is what makes dealing with that feeling difficult.
  • Accept that life is for the living.  It takes effort to begin to live again in the present and not dwell in the past.
  • Postpone major life changes.  Try to hold off on making any major changes, such as moving, marrying, or remarrying, changing jobs or having another child.   You should give yourself time to adjust to your loss.
  • Be patient.  It can take months or even years to absorb a major loss and accept you are changed as a result of that loss.
  • Seek outside help when necessary.  If your grief seems like it is too much to bear, seek professional assistance to help work through your grief.   It’s a sign of strength to seek help not weakness.

 

Cultivating Calmness and Stillness

Cultivating calmness and stillness

I’m reading a good book suggested by one of my clients called The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown.

The book’s premise is about how to cultivate Wholeheated Living and in order to cultivate this you must also be cultivating calmness and stillness.  I wanted to briefly speak about this part of her book how a simple decision to incorporate these concepts helped me this week.  But first let me back up a bit and add a bit of context.

This year I am focusing more on being intentional and mindful, theses are my words for the year.  Part of this effort is to throw off our culture’s concept that busyness and exhaustion is good and valuable.  Our culture thinks this way because many of us gain our self-worth from our accomplishments.  I have been working for years to rid myself of this ingrained-from-childhood concept. I have been at work to firmly plant my identify in who God says I am and not what our culture tries to say about me.   I found that attempting to build my identity upon accomplishments or acquisitions felt like shifting sand under my feet; no stability was to be found.  I say that I have been working for years on this because this re-creating and replanting of my identify is not something that can be done just once and it’s accomplished for the rest of my life, it’s an ever-evolving process as I age and face new challenges.  Brown’s book goes right along with many things I have been personally working on.

In one chapter she addresses calmness and stillness.

Brown defines calm as “creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity.” She went on to write that practicing calm means feeling your feelings without reacting to heightened emotions like fear and anger.

I would like to add that I think we can and sometimes should react to fear and anger but the key is not allow our outward actions be dominated by those emotions to the extent that we make rash decisions that hurt ourselves or others.

This is NOT an easy feat in the least!

I have realized in my upbringing I learned a bad habit that went something like this: when bad things happen I should take it seriously and thus my outward reaction should reflect that.  I’m sure you can imagine that way of reacting has not always worked in my favor.  When I became a parent and some crisis was occurring I leaned quickly if I reacted strongly so did my kids, which meant everyone was more freaked out that they needed to be. Medical emergencies could spell traumatic experiences if I did not change how I reacted to bad situations. So I have had to change that!

This week I realized I am doing much better at cultivating calmness in my life.   Here’s a short story for example: Our dog loves to sneak out of the yard and run crazy around the neighborhood whenever she can escape the back yard.   I have never been able to catch her without someone helping me coax her back to the house.   She runs fast and become so hyper she just doesn’t listen to anyone.   This week our dog got out of the yard after a nasty hailstorm dislodged the lock on our fence’s gate.   So as my kids and I were getting ready to leave the house, the kids went go to get in the car and I went to call the dog in from the back yard at our patio door, assuming she was still in the back yard.   My oldest child walks out into our driveway and sees our dog is across the street in the neighbors yard happily smelling the exotic “other yard” scents.  Frantically my oldest child yells “SHE’S ACROSS THE STREET!”  My usual response has been to run and yell the dog’s name, asking for her to come to me.  I knew walking out of the house that this was a crisis, we could lose our beloved dog if she kept running or she could get run over by a car (which almost happened a few months ago) but I also knew in that moment I must change my reaction to this crisis to manage it.   This time I coolly set my purse down, told my kids “stay calm” and I walked out to my drive way, scanned to ensure no cars were coming down the street and patted my knees, calling our dog. Our sweet and crazy mutt picked her head up and ran straight to me!  First time ever!    We were all more than a big shocked that it worked and our little crisis was diverted.

Over many years I have realized that being calm on the outside while still reacting to the crisis at hand gives me more time to make wise decisions.   I can still react to these serious situations without displaying to the world that I don’t care.  I think I initially rejected this reaction because I assumed calm people in a crisis didn’t really care that much.

I must to give credit where credit is due: a large part of my calmness comes from God.   I have an overriding peace from Him that helps me stay calmer in these situations.  I’m not saying I’m perfect at doing this 100% of the time.  If I don’t get enough rest and I’m under too much stress I have been known to revert to my old ways of reacting.  So I know sleep, managing my stress and having daily time with my creator is crucial to having calmness and stillness in my life.

So my question to you is: How can you create more calmness and stillness in your life?  It’s crucial to your health and well-being!