Comparison is something that often comes up everywhere. In school we are given grades, in job evaluations, in reality tv, in fashion. How am I doing in comparison to others? It may not be a conscious thought, it may just be a judgement of what someone else is or isn’t doing. Whether you have lost someone dear to you, are in a relationship, starting a new job, continuing in one for a while, going to the gym. We are all on our own journey. There may be similarities with others on a similar road. And it is still your own individual, unique journey.
For example if I go to the gym to build muscle, I can follow a routine that others have suggested- a friend, a youtube video, a personal trainer. This routine may have different outcomes for someone else because we eat and consume differently, have different body types, are different ages.
What does comparing get me? What does it get you? Perhaps feeling better or worse about myself or my situation. This leaves me in a one up or one down from others. It doesn’t leave room for seeing everyone as whole or even myself as whole. It distances me from others, it puts a wedge in the relationship, even if I haven’t talked to the person.
Stepping stone: If you are interested, notice where you compare yourself to others. Is it in a particular setting? Is there a certain judgement that comes up? Notice how you respond to the comparison and to the other person or situation. Is this something that you want to continue?
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This is a skill that I think is super helpful in life. Often times friends, intimate partners, or family members will have an idea of something. This is usually not said. Then when someone else has a different idea that is often not shared either, tension and arguments can ensue. Take for example coming home. One person may want space to take off their shoes, put their stuff away and take a moment to breath before greeting the other person. The other person comes in wanting the other to drop everything and give them a big hug, acknowledge that they arrived and are happy to see them. This is often not talked about which then can cause disrupts and irritation. You may expect something and have an agreement on your end and the other person wasn’t aware of the agreement. (Another of my favorites is when one person in a couple does something on a regular basis, then they stop and the other person gets upset, “But you always did that.”)
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What if you could make a clear agreement about what you wanted. What if it was actually ok to ask for what you want? The other person has the ability to say no. If it is not said it is not an agreement from both people.
Stepping Stone: (Instead of homework, since some people have a hard time with that word, esp teenagers) Share with someone else what you want and making a clear agreement that you both agree to. Do not agree if you don’t really want to, that is a set up for failure and broken agreements which breaks trust.
Example: Hey, I really like when you greet me at the door when I come home. What do you think about that?
Or: Hey I noticed that you push me away when I come up to say hi when you first come home, do you want some space before I say hi?
Work more on agreements with me for couples, family, or group therapy at my Portland office. Contact me to set up an appointment.
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I think our general culture here in the US tends to be get stuff done, go go go, be productive. With that mindset, it doesn’t really leave time for sitting and resting and rejuvenating the self. It can be labeled “lazy” or “selfish” to “do nothing.” The idea of sitting, resting, laying down in the shade/sun, reading a book as “doing nothing” is so connected to how the culture views certain activities.
This is something that comes up especially with parents. For a lot of couples, between work and kids, there is not a lot of extra time for the couple let alone yourself. Yet it makes such a difference. Even if it is five minutes. I see it as recharging that internal battery.
How Relaxing is Important in Couples Therapy
I am married and am used to my spouse and their energy and movement. A friend has been staying with us for several months now and I noticed today, Sun, that when both my friend and spouse left, that I hadn’t been home alone for at least two weeks. Maybe it is having a different energy in the home. Maybe it is just having silence, knowing that I am here alone. And I also realized that it is something that I want to enjoy more regularly. And I don’t necessarily need the whole day, I just want to have my space, my time, with no one around.
Side note: I often tell the couples that come to see me as coaching or therapy clients to go on a date and not talk about the kids, money or their relationship. Go out and talk about topics that aren’t “business” related. Here is a link to first date questions.
If you want to continue the exploration: Take a moment to think about what activities you consider to be productive vs unproductive. Where did these ideas of what is and isn’t productive come from? How do you take care of yourself? Make a list of self care activities. And determine what you want to do and by when for your next you time.
Contact me today to make an appointment for Portland area couples therapy.
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Lesson 2: Jump into the mess
Dogs jump right in. Typically speaking, dogs don’t shy away from mud. They love to play. They aren’t worried that they will get messy and that you won’t love them anymore. They play and get messy solely for having fun.
What if you/I/we weren’t so worried about getting dirty. About literally getting muddy or even messy in terms of showing emotion or sharing what is going through your mind.
Challenge: Play with getting messy. 1) Literally go out and play in the mud/dirt/puddles. 2) Get messy with sharing emotions and what stories you are making up. You may want to start with someone that you trust, let them know you are going to get messy.
Side note: Notice that dogs don’t create meaning or story around something that happened. Something happens, then they are there again fully. Unless the dog has been trained otherwise.
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Anger Management Tips Learned from Man’s Best Friend
I was talking to someone recently about how much dogs can teach us and what they can show us about anger management.
How to express anger. I think the American culture has an idea that feeling anger is either stewing or full on rage. What if anger is a boundary issue? Ie: “Don’t step on my tail!” when you step on a dog’s tail, typically the dog will bark or growl or yelp, jump up and move, and then come back and want to be pet.
What if anger was that easy to express as humans? Express and come back to connection. Let the other person know, “I don’t like that.” It doesn’t mean you bite the person’s hand off (say things that you don’t mean or intentionally say to hurt the other person). It also doesn’t mean that you sulk for hours or days.
Challenge: Play with noticing what are your boundaries. And how can you express in an easy, friendly way?
Contact me today to make an appointment for anger management counseling in the Portland area.
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Do you notice your energy drop? Maybe you have a hard time gathering your energy? Perhaps when you are with a certain person, you lose interest?
A fun trick is to notice where your energy is. Do you notice it outside of you or directed internally? Often we can feel drained when we leave our attention out or in for an extended period of time.
Do an exercise with me right now. Look at something that is further away- the wall, a tree, a person. Now bring your attention half way between that and where you are. Now bring your attention to your body. you can place it on your body as a whole or a part of your body. It can be a physical sensation- your feet on the ground, your bottom in the chair or a body sensation- butterflies in the stomach, pressure on your chest.
Challenge: notice when your energy drops, now notice where is your attention directed. If it is in, place it outside of yourself. And vice versa.
Photo curtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Something that I think comes up somewhat often with the couples I see in couples therapy and coaching as well as my own life is having different perspectives of what quality time looks like.
Are you in a couple? Do you want argue over things to do together? Or even time that you spend together? Does one of you want more time than the other?
Quality time looks different to different people and if you don’t actually know what the other thinks is “quality time” than you may be arguing over the time you have together. If this comes up with your spouse, partner, girl/boyfriend, have a conversation about it. You may find out that one thinks quality time is going to a movie, sitting on opposite or the same side of the couch reading, looking longingly into each others eyes, having the other person’s full undivided attention, doing a project together, eating dinner with or without the tv on, sitting and talking. What kind of attention do you each want for your quality time and if you have what seem like contrasting ideas, how can it become a both/and vs an either/or?
Challenge: have the conversation and see if you are on the same page.
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Often times couples have different needs around alone time and socializing time. When people have wants that aren’t expressed, arguments can ensue. Especially if one person wants the other to be a mind reader.
What your expectations are is an important conversation to have, especially with socializing holidays coming up. Check in with each other before you are at the bbq or party. What are your expectations of how long you will be there, how social you each will be, if you want to spend time together or be off on your own talking with people, if someone needs space what will they do (leave, take a walk, go read a book somewhere).
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Life Coaching Can Help You Explore How Others Perceive You
This has come up a lot in the last week or two. We live in community, in relationship vs being our own island. We can have a view of ourself and rely on our own sense of self AND people also affect us, they have views of us which may or may not match up to how we view ourselves.
How can we have a sense of self and also be open to other’s views of us? If I think I show up in a certain way and I hear otherwise from someone else, I can then explore that for myself. I can ask if it rings true, wonder where they are coming from, what do they see that demonstrates that idea. And then land on if it rings true for me and adjust myself as necessary. Or it may not ring true and then I can continue showing up as I show up. When you have multiple people giving that feedback, it may be time to explore deeper with life coaching.
I think it is good to remember that we are not stagnant beings. We are full of movement and change. We have the ability to shift perspectives and take someone else’s point of view. We are amazing creatures.
If you want to continue to explore this, check in with someone you trust and ask if they perceive you the same way that you see yourself. Then determine if it matches up with how you see yourself.
If you would like help with deeper exploration of perspectives in your life, contact your Portland area life coach at 503-961-3141.
I have not written in a while, I have been in a bit of a whirlwind and doing the most necessary things.
I had a minor surgery a couple of weeks ago. And I find it so interesting how I have a certain idea of how things “should” go in terms of healing. I hear one thing from a doctor and expect it to be that: have energy in a few days, back to regular activities. Well, it didn’t happen that way. This has been a lesson in being present with what is and also not judging my experience to be wrong, it is what it is. I have been resting and healing slowly, really listening to my body. For example, my head wanted to do many things today and I had planned to move forward with my planned day. I started and noticed I was exhausted and I hadn’t even started. I checked in and noticed how much energy I was putting toward going back and forth deciding if I would do something and when I checked in, I was up for resting. So I cancelled it and rested.
My new mantra is: Healing is not linear. And this is true to so many things in life. Any process isn’t linear. I think most of us want there to be a set path that we take and follow the steps toward the goal and then we get there. I keep learning, from myself, my clients, friends and family, that is not so.
My homework for myself and if you wish to participate is to remind myself/yourself that life isn’t linear; healing, goals, growth aren’t linear. And it isn’t right or wrong, it just is. How can we accept, listen to our bodies of what wants to happen and allow. Enjoy your journey.