Posts tagged Relationships
When using ultimatums Backfires
When ultimatums backfires

“If he doesn’t propose by Valentine’s Day, I’m leaving!”

“If you talk to her one more time, this relationship is over!”

“If you don’t come to therapy with me, I’ll know you don’t care, and so I’ll have no choice but to move out.”

As a therapist my role is not to give advice. I help my clients come to their own decision about where they want to go in their relationships and I like to think of therapy as a road trip where the client is in the driver seat, and I’m in the passenger seat with the map. They tell me where they want to go and I hear their input and direct them using the best route.

I undoubtedly get direct questions though when people are unsatisfied with their relationships like, “do you think I should give him (or her) an ultimatum?” and while I do my best to avoid giving my direct opinion, there are definitely times when I want to give a straight answer – no (but it depends).

It depends on the status and history of your relationship. It depends on what behavior you are looking to diminish by giving said ultimatum. It depends on how destructive said behavior is. Ultimately it really depends on your willingness to follow through with your end of the ultimatum, and that’s where, if it’s not carried out right, it can truly backfire.

If you’re in an unhealthy relationship where you just aren’t being treated the way you deserve, there really isn’t any reason to wait until your partner disrespects you one more time in order to force you to leave. Instead, check in with what’s going right, and with what’s causing you to have one foot out the door. Compare the pro and con lists; are the cons things that go against your values? Is there forward movement in repairing those issues?

Giving a blanket ultimatum and threatening to leave the relationship when things get tough doesn’t elicit trust or confidence. Some people threaten to leave over minor things just to get their partner’s attention, and this is really unhealthy due to the insecurity it elicits.

In many cases, having a true heart to heart conversation with your partner can be much more impactful than giving an ultimatum.

There are cases in which you can be totally invested in the relationship, and just not feeling the same from your partner, and so giving an ultimatum for them to work towards repairing a huge point of contention in your relationship as a last and final effort on your part can be beneficial. With that said, be prepared to follow through with your end of the ultimatum.

If you’re serious about getting over the hump and having your partner on the same page, and express this with an ultimatum it should be time sensitive and something you’ve truly thought out. Make your expectations clear and measurable, and do so in a respectable way – a conversation in which you’re clear headed and able to speak without letting your emotions take over is best.

Follow through. If you are considering an ultimatum, think about what it will be like to follow through. What will that mean for you and the status of your relationship? If you’re threatening to leave, do you have a place to go? Make plans ahead of time so that you are able to follow through in a reasonable amount of time.

Without follow through an ultimatum is useless, so consider other ways to repair the damage in your relationship before heading in that direction. Think about your goal, and reflect on other options. Counseling is a great option when things become stagnant in your personal life. Having a neutral party to help you to move in the right direction and provide that roadmap you need, can be extremely valuable. If it’s something you’re considering, I’d love to hear from you, and help you find a therapist that’s right for you (909) 226-6124

Coping with Grief & Loss
grief and loss after divorce

A large part of my job is hearing of the struggles and losses of others and helping them heal and overcome those losses. Part of that healing comes from understanding what is normal and to be expected in certain situations.

I feel as though I am personally in a season of loss, and haven’t gone more than a few weeks without hearing of someone I care about losing a loved one. Grief is thick and strong and whether it is grief that comes from the loss of a relationship, or the loss of someone to illness or tragedy, it has varying shades, and the stages are the same.

I have been asked how I can help others if I haven’t experienced the situations that they are going through, and my answer is always the same: no two people experience the same thing in the same way, however I have experienced the emotions that come along with the different situations that I help others through.

I know sadness, loss, pain, and grief, and I also know joy, love, happiness, and connection. The other answer I typically give when posed with this question is: You don’t see cancer doctor because they’ve also had cancer, but you see them because they understand the science and steps that will help you heal.

No one can know exactly what a loss may look and feel like for you, however there are 5 common stages of grief that have been outlined and studied by Swiss Psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross that are well known and used by many helpers and healers and understanding where you are in terms of these stages helps normalize the situation and know what to expect. The common acronym for the 5 stages is, DABDA:

1.     Denial: in the face of a loss, the first reaction is denial that this could possibly happen. Denial is, “this isn’t happening,” “this can’t be happening,” “there must be some sort of misunderstanding or mistake,” “we can fix this.” It usually lasts only a short time, because it is difficult to deny the outward indications of what is happening.

2.     Anger: when denial no longer works, many people move to anger. Anger is, “Why would she be in that spot at that time, doesn’t’ she know how dangerous it is!?” “I can’t stand him anyway,” “I can’t believe God let this happen!” “How could I have let this happen? I can’t even look at myself right now.” People become angry at the person they’ve lost, others involved for causing the loss, or themselves for not doing something to prevent the loss.

3.     Bargaining: in this stage people sometimes bargain with God, or themselves in order to reverse the loss or impending loss. Bargaining is, “please God, just bring them back, and I swear I’ll live a better lifestyle,” “If I could just have one more moment with that person, I know I can save them, and our relationship,” This is seen more in situations that are less severe such as the loss of a job, but can occur in all types of losses.

4.     Depression: in this stage, the person experiences depression, and may stop doing daily activities. They may refuse to leave the house or have visitors and have much less energy. It’s also common for people in this stage to question life and the reason for moving forward if they too are going to die someday, or be met with the loss of another job, romantic relationship, or friendship.

5.     Acceptance: in this final stage, the person comes to accept the loss, and begins to make peace and resolves to move forward and find ways to commemorate their time with a person they’ve lost. Acceptance is, “this is happening, and my relationship is over, but I will move forward and look for what I truly want in my next relationship,” “although I’ve lost my mom, her legacy will love on in me, and I will teach my own children the lessons she taught me.”

Although these stages are presented in a logical order, it’s common for you to go back and forth between the stages. There is no set length for each stage, however if you are in the depression stage for longer than 2 months after the loss of a loved one and feel as though you are unable to get out of that sadness, have difficulty sleeping, and experience weight loss and low energy, this is a sign of Major Depression and you should seek the help of a therapist, psychiatrist, or consult your physician.

Depression symptoms after divorce, break-up, or losing a job that are lasting longer than one month can also be cause for concern, and the same advice applies.

It’s not possible to remove the various trials, peaks and valleys from our lives, but it is possible to find better ways to cope. If you are having difficulty coping with a recent loss, I’m here to help point you in the right direction and you can contact me at (909)226-6124 for a free phone consultation and we can talk about ways you start to feel better and pull yourself out of grief. 

5 Things to stop doing in 2016 To improve your relationship
improve your relationship

Out with the old and in with the new? While most people love to use the New Year to mark the start of new habits, here are 5 things you should give up in order to create a happier, healthier relationship in 2016:

1.     Stop sweating the small stuff. Before you pick a fight with your partner about the laundry, unmade bed, or what to eat for dinner, ask yourself – in the grand scheme of my relationship how much does this really matter? Will you be worried about it 1, 3, or even 6 months from now? If the answer is no, let it go, or at best, check your approach.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t voice your opinion or make requests from your partner about things that are important to you. Most bigger arguments aren’t really about what’s happening on the surface, and so if you are feeling your claws coming out over something benign, it may be time to check in with yourself and consider other resentments you may be holding on to.

When there’s something bigger that needs to be discussed, schedule a separate time to do so when you aren’t feeling overcome by emotion and can have a productive conversation about what’s really bothering you. If there are trust issues or there’s been infidelity in the relationship, then it’s time to tackle those issues head on.

2.     Stop trying to get everything you need out of your one relationship. We live in a culture where our romantic partner is supposed to be our best friend, greatest confidant, our lover, our ally in parenting, and everything in-between. While all of those roles are fantastic, the image of having them all checked off of the list may contribute to lower satisfaction and disappointment.

When you ask your partner to be all things to you, it sends the message that they are the end-all, be-all in your world. They should definitely be at the top of the priority list for you, however you just can’t get everything you need from one person. Having a healthy set of friendships outside your marriage where you can be authentic, share and receive advice, and gain perspective is just as important.

3.     Stop saying maybe when you really mean no. This just sets your partner up for disappointment, and while you may be trying to let them down easily, it’s much more important to be yourself. Showing up genuinely in your relationship is the surest way to have a healthy and intimate relationship.   

4.     Stop going to bed with your phone. Make the bedroom a cell-phone free zone, and limit other screen time before bed. Those moments before bed when you unwind from a long day can best be spent talking, laughing, and sharing your thoughts with your partner, and this can do wonders for improving your relationship.

5.     Stop trying to change your partner. If changes need to be made, you can make requests, but for the most part, people are who they are, and unless they are committed to making changes for themselves, things will likely remain the same.

If there are character traits that bother you it may be time to look at the reasons they are urking you. Chances are those traits were there when you first entered the relationship but you looked past them. Moving forward in a relationship with the intention of breaking someone else’s habit is wasted time and energy and will likely leave you disappointed. Learn to embrace your partner’s flaws and instead look at what changes you can make in terms of your reactions and responses to the things that bug you.

I’m wishing you an amazing 2016, and if you could use some support in dropping some of the habits that are keeping you frustrated in your relationship I’d love to help. You can call me at (909) 226-6124 for a fee phone consultation where we’ll talk about how your relationship can improve in the New Year. 

Same-Sex Friendships: Why they’re important, and how to make them
friendship after divorce

Remember when you were a kid and you and your BFF rode bikes together, went back and forth from each other’s houses, stayed up way too late laughing at nothing and everything all at the same time?

Moving into adulthood means you won’t likely be spending the night over at your same-sex bestie’s house every other weekend, but it doesn’t have to mean that the benefits of a close relationship like that have to change.

If you aren’t still in touch with your childhood best friend, you aren’t alone. Life gets busy. Work, family, and other obligations often get in the way, and high school and childhood friends often drift away.

It can sometimes be difficult to replace those relationships, but having a same-sex friend that you are able to share things with is so beneficial. When your friend is the same gender, you not only have the same anatomy, but you have the ability to share things that you may not with a romantic partner, or friend of the opposite sex.

There is typically no question of attraction between same-sex friends, (unless of course, one party is not forth-coming with their sexual preference) and so that diminishes some pressure in establishing a deep relationship that can be potentially threatening to a romantic partner.  

In case you haven’t heard, laughter is one of life’s best medicines and truly does have so many scientifically proven health benefits. In addition to sharing a laugh with a close friend, friendships are where we can go to gain strength, encouragement, and understanding.

No matter what you’re going through in life, it’s always better when it’s shared with a friend. Celebrating the highs, and getting encouragement through the lows is so important. But why can they sometimes feel so hard to make, or maintain once you reach adulthood?

The playing field tends to shrink once high school friends drift away for school, employment, and other opportunities. After college, the opportunity to join sororities and clubs is no longer right in front of you and so it can be challenging to find same sex friends who share common interests. 

Depending on the size of the company you work for, and your ability to interact, it can be challenging to cultivate those necessary relationships in the workplace.  Age ranges can differ greatly in the workplace among coworkers, and some places create a culture of competition, which doesn’t always elicit camaraderie.  

Friendships are unique in that they are something we seek out, and are responsible for maintaining. If you’ve found yourself in a place where you can use a few more same sex friendships, then it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and find ways to connect.

Places like meetup.com, and other community-based listing sites can be excellent avenues to find groups of people with common interests. There are literally thousands of groups out there that are gender specific with members truly looking to connect with people that share their interests. There are mommy groups, singles groups, divorcé groups, and couples groups, so regardless of your relationship status there is a group for you.

Community involvement and volunteerism can also open doors to meet others who value altruism and similar causes. Joining an adult sports league, running, hiking, or biking group incorporates fitness and connection. It takes some effort and strength to put yourself out there, but the connections you can make are worth it. 

We also live in an age where our friendships can be virtual. Looking for Facebook or other social media groups where others share similar interests can be an excellent way to “meet,” and once you find people who you’d like to share a more personal connection with, connecting via Skype or facetime can connect you with someone across the country or globe that you really hit it off with. It may not seem the same as sitting across from a friend at a coffee shop, but I’ve shared many cups of coffee with awesome people via a Google Hangout, and felt even more connected (don’t knock it till you try it!).

The avenues for connection are great, and the Internet makes searching so simple, so don’t let your location or place in life be an excuse not to cultivate great friendships. Friendships help us become better versions of ourselves; they make us more successful, and generate happiness.

If lack of connection in your life has you feeling ho-hum, and you just aren’t looking forward to the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, I want to help. I’ve created an awesome tool call the 14-day Mindset Boost to help you shift your mindset in preparation for the holidays. You can get it here, for free. You’ll get a nifty little calendar with a small exercise each day to help you shift into a more positive mindset, and prepare you to truly enjoy and connect with those around you. I hope you’ll take advantage of it! 

Enjoying the Holidays In spite of your relationship Status

In an attempt to get away from the traditional “Surviving the Holidays” guide, I don’t want to talk about “surviving” something that is meant to be amazing, but instead I want to share ways to have a kick-ass holiday, in spite of your relationship status.

You may be sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table as a single, or with a partner that you’re barely holding on to, but in either case, you can have a rockin’ holiday, and I want to give you some tips to go about doing so.

It all starts with mindset. This is key to so much in our lives. The things we tell ourselves about what is to come, or what is, has the power to take over and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you’re stuck in loathing the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, and your mind is filled with thoughts of dodging questions about your relationship status, that’s likely what you will experience.

While I admit, sitting at a table filled with couples can remind you of your singleness, but being prepared beforehand, and focusing on your mindset can do wonders for your mood and how you interact with family and friends when they ask you yet again, if you’re ready to get back out there.

From the time of this publication until Turkey Day, you have 2 weeks and 2 days to get your mind right and prepared to have more than just a ho-hum holiday.

Start with gratitude. There are small moments in each day that we can be thankful for. This time of year gets people into posting things on social media about what they are thankful for daily. This is a great exercise, but if you aren’t into the whole social media thing, just do it for yourself. Get a little notebook and keep it by your bedside, or use the note app on your phone and jot down/type at least one thing you are thankful for each day.

Is there something that your relationship status has brought you that you can be thankful for? Looking for the silver lining in crappy situations can be powerful. Maybe you and your partner are going through a rough patch in your relationship, but it’s caused you to think more deeply about your relationship, and who you want to be as a partner. Introspection and growth are amazing things, and we sometimes need a difficult situation to kick us in the gut to help us realize it’s something we need. This is something to be thankful for, and something you can write down in your notes.

Check your limiting beliefs and that tape that plays on repeat in your head. What is it that you tell yourself about yourself? What do you tell yourself about your relationship? Are you constantly repeating over and over that you’re a horrible person for causing a break-up, or the difficult path you and your partner are on right now?

You might be saying these things to yourself and not even realize you’re doing it. Take some time out to listen to the messages you’re giving yourself, and what happens right before that, to evoke those messages.

Let me give you a personal example: I’m a person that has had a tendency to run a few minutes late to events and non-work stuff, and by a few I mean 5-15 depending on the day. It’s not something I’m proud of, but something I’m definitely working on. I noticed that I was typically showing up to wherever I needed to be, frazzled and unexcited. Getting out of the house can be a chore with a 1 year-old in tow.

When I sat down and really started thinking about my mindset and the things I was telling myself, I heard things like, “you’re never on time!” “OMG get your act together already!” “If you just would’ve gotten off the couch 10 minutes sooner, you wouldn’t be in such a rush!” and other expletives that I won’t share here. But it’s no wonder why, when I arrived to my destination that I didn’t have energy or excitement about whatever it was that I was about to do. I was spending the entire car ride mentally tearing myself apart.

After dissecting these thoughts, I came to the conclusion that I needed to change the tape that I was playing in my head when I am running late. Instead of negative thoughts, I’ve replaced them with loving affirmations. I say things like, “you are awesome,” “this event is going to be great,” and reminders about why I signed up for said event, and things that just evoke happiness. You can fill in your blank with anything positive that you see fit. But I can attest to the fact that positivity is powerful, and being kind to yourself has the ability to change a future event from something you drag your feet to, to something amazing.

As for that baby-shower I helped host over the weekend, I totally rocked it, and it was because of my mindset. I arrived with energy, eagerness to work the crowd, and I was ready to pour out all the love I had for my friend and her new baby.

I won’t pretend this is easy. Changing automatic thoughts can take weeks, months, and even years. Sometimes there are deeper-rooted issues that keep you stuck in those mindsets, but if you take the time to listen and figure out what those issues are, then you can begin working towards clearing them up.

Once you identify the negative things you’re telling yourself, it’s time to pick some new things you’d like to say instead. Write them down, and read them to yourself when you wake up, before you go to bed, and any other time you get a moment. This will help you to memorize them and recall them when you’re in that negative situation, and by the time you pull up to your parent’s house on Thanksgiving, you will be able to recite them and remind yourself of how awesome you are, and of the positive things you have to look forward to while sitting at the dinner table.

While you might not be able to change what’s happening with your partner in time for Thanksgiving, you can mentally prepare yourself for family asking about when they’ll be hearing the pitter-patter of little feet. Anticipating those types of questions that typically make you cringe, and identifying the messages you tell yourself as a result of those questions will make a world of difference.

If you know Aunt Agnes is going to ask you why you’re still not married, and you know that will in-turn cause you to over-eat, ever-drink, or over-indulge in self loathing for the remainder of the night, nip that pattern in the bud. Show up having done some work around this, and prepare a new plan of action, a new affirmation, and a new state of being so that question will just roll off your back, and you can change to subject and point out all of the fabulous things you’re doing with your life these days a result of being single.

Watching your newly married cousin and her husband play footsie under the table can have you wishing for better days with your spouse, but if you meet that head-on with a plan to focus on what the holiday is all about – a favorite dish, tradition, or a laugh you’re looking forward to having with your cousin who’s in from out of state, your mindset can help keep you thankful, and looking forward to the next family gathering. A relationship issue may be all consuming, but if you take a minute to step outside and look around, you will see that you are more than your relationship, and there truly are things to be thankful for if you just give them a chance.

If you want a little kick in the butt to get you motivated to change your mindset in preparation for the holiday season, you can click here to get my 14-Day Mindset Boost Calendar, where you’ll find a small exercise each day to help you clear the clutter, and get you prepared to truly enjoy your holiday.