Self-Care Tips for When You’re Going Through a Divorce

Self-Care Tips for When You’re Going Through a Divorce

Self-Care Tips for When You're Going Through a Divorce

Take Care

The nature of the relationship between divorcing couples tends to fall anywhere on the range from amicable to highly contentious, but regardless of the dynamic, going through divorce is never easy. Self-care and social support are critically important areas for divorcing spouses to focus their attention on as they navigate such a challenging time. 

As a therapist and breakup recovery coach, I like to walk my clients through the process of building self-care routines that can help aid in the recovery and healing process after a breakup or divorce.

Creating a List of Self-Care Activities

In my work with breakup recovery clients, I like to encourage you to create a list of self-care activities (I also like to call these “feel good” activities) that are diverse enough that you are able to engage in at least one activity from that list every single day. 

The reason why it’s important to have a diverse list is so that you can set yourself up for self-care success. It’s so easy to push off self-care when you’re going through a divorce, especially if you have a family. But it’s imperative that you remember to set aside time for yourself. 

I ask that clients are thoughtful about including activities that are in-home and some that take place out of the home; ones that are free and others that cost money; some that are outside and some that take place indoors; activities that require other peoples’ involvement and others that are solo activities, and so on. 

It might sound impossible to engage in self-care on a daily basis, but when you make a self-care list that is as diverse as possible, you are able to come up with activities that are appropriate regardless of the time of day or how much free time is available. 

For example, activities such as taking a long shower or watching a TV show can be done from the comfort of your home. Actions such as listening to music by your favorite artist or engaging in breathing exercises can occur at work. Going on a trip or out to dinner with friends require more planning and money than some other activities, but might still be appropriate for your self-care list. 

Anything that brings you joy and makes you feel good belongs on this list. 

[For more on creating a self-care plan, see: A Self-Care Plan to Cultivate Calm]

Establishing & Building Your Social Support

Social support is extremely important when going through any challenging experience, including divorce. Seeking support from friends, family, and/or a therapist are all good options, as is joining online support groups for people experiencing divorce. 

While you may find that you’ve lost some friends due to people taking sides or maybe you’ve lost touch with friends during your marriage and find you don’t have as many as you’d like, focusing on maintaining and rebuilding important relationships is a great way to ensure you have the support necessary to navigate and recover from a divorce.

Your support system can help you maintain your self-care activities, check-in and offer support when you are experiencing a more difficult day, offer encouragement, offer distraction, and help you work through your healing journey.

If now is the time when you are realizing that your friendships could use a little growth work of their own, check out these articles for tips on building healthy relationships:
The Importance of Healthy Friendships 
Feeling Lonely? How to Find True Friendship in a Frantic World.

Practicing Self-Care for Big Emotions

Big emotions are bound to spike during the divorce process and that can make it difficult to communicate effectively. Some divorce methods, such as Collaborative Divorce, have a mental health professional involved to help address these kinds of situations in the moment, but in other situations, you may feel more alone in terms of managing your emotions. 

Remember, divorce is a process and while there may be an urgency felt to settle the issues as quickly as possible, you are better off taking time to cool down and revisit the contentious issue, rather than making decisions while emotions are ramped up. 

Self-soothing is extremely important when it comes to managing emotions. Self-talk, such as telling yourself that this difficult period will pass or that you’ve been through other hard times and survived, can be extremely helpful, as are breathing exercises, such as inhaling through your nose, pausing for a few seconds, and slowly exhaling through your mouth. 

These are self-care activities you can engage in on the spot or immediately after divorce-related conversations or milestones.  

Feeling big emotions is part of being human, and it's important that you allow yourself the space to work through them. Emotional Self Care When Your Life is Falling Apart and It's Okay to Cry: How to Handle Big Emotions each share how to work through these big emotions while supporting yourself. 

"I have tried counseling for about a decade with various counselors and have never been able to connect or grow with them. [My Growing Self Coach] has connected with me genuinely and helped me grow more in two meetings then several counselors have done in a decade.”

— Coaching Client

Managing Anxiety Around Rebuilding Your Life

Anxiety about the unknown surrounding life post-divorce is completely normal. People tend to try to eliminate the “bad” emotions as quickly as possible because they can feel so uncomfortable, but they are absolutely normal responses, and the sooner we allow ourselves to acknowledge them and even indulge them, the sooner we’re able to move through them. 

Self-talk can really make or break things and you have a huge amount of power during this process by choosing what kinds of thoughts you’d like to feed yourself. The anxiety-ridden thoughts are probably going to come to mind more easily, so it can be helpful to create a list of positive changes that are occurring as a result of the divorce so you can revisit that list when you feel bogged down by the anxiety.

I am a firm believer that crisis points often lead to opportunity and that nothing is 100% good or 100% bad, so when you feel ready, as strange as it might sound, I encourage you to contemplate the silver lining and the new opportunities that could come your way as a result of the divorce and capture that list in the notepad in your phone so you can continue to add it it as new ideas come to mind. 

Working Through Divorce Stages of Grief

When going through a divorce, it can feel like everything is falling apart. Rest assured, this feeling is not permanent, but there is validity to it. Navigating the Post-Divorce Stages of Grief can feel really scary, unstable, and uncertain. I strongly encourage you to treat this end of the relationship as a death because when we allow ourselves to frame our experience in that way, we also tend to be more gentle on ourselves and give ourselves permission to grieve in many of the ways we would if we suffered an actual death. The reality is, the end of a marriage is a death, and it’s okay if you are struggling to take care of yourself. 

The best course of action is to do one small self-care activity each day and not think too far ahead because the recovery process can feel too daunting. If that means that today you were able to get up and take a shower but not muster much else, that’s okay. Acknowledge small efforts to yourself and you will find that the efforts eventually build and build until you’ve developed a new normal. 

Perhaps most importantly, don't be afraid to reach out for help. Friends and family are often waiting in the wings to step in and help, but might not know that you’re suffering unless you communicate that to them. Likewise, therapists are always available to help support you during these difficult times, so reach out!

If you are going through a divorce or breakup, I recommend the book, How to Survive the Loss of a Love to help you on your healing journey. 

Warmly,
Dr. Rachel

Dr. Rachel Merlin, DMFT, LMFT, M.S.Ed.

Dr. Rachel Merlin is a relationship coach and marriage and family therapist who assists couples and individuals in transforming their lives by creating more satisfying relationships.

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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Toxic Shame

Toxic Shame

Toxic Shame

Healing Toxic Shame

What is toxic shame? Shame is a normal emotion that many of us feel from time to time but don’t often recognize. Most of us will experience shame in our lifetime and it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong or “bad” about us. Usually, it feels like wanting to hide, trying to camouflage or blend in, and feeling bad or worthless. Shame can be really informational about our experience and how we react to certain events or people. Toxic shame on the other hand is taking these feelings and expanding on them. When there is an interference in your normal life due to feelings of shame, it can be an indicator of toxic shame. 

If you are reading this and it’s resonating with you, you are not alone. As a Colorado therapist and online life coach, I work with clients around feelings of shame and establishing a healthy relationship with their emotions, life events, and people. If feelings of shame are impacting your life, causing unhappiness, distraught, or the inability to fully live your life, go to work, or interact with others – then you may be experiencing toxic shame. 

In this article, I hope to shine some light on toxic shame, what it looks like and how you can begin to heal if you are experiencing toxic shame in your own life. If you know someone who might benefit from reading this, please feel free to share this content with them. We all struggle with shame from time to time, if it’s causing you or a loved one to live a life of hurt and loneliness – it may be time to reach out for help. 

Signs of Toxic Shame

When shame crosses the line into toxic or unhealthy territory, it can look like:

  • Obsessing over your mistakes to the point of interfering with sleep/work/relationships
  • More often than not, feeling worthless, hopeless, ruined, or bad
  • Feeling as though you deserve bad things to happen to you or that you don’t deserve good things
  • Saying sorry repeatedly for things
  • Feeling as though you need to overextend yourself to make others like you
  • Basing major life decisions on the feelings of shame (for example, passing on a promotion because you don’t think you’re “good enough” even when you’re aptly qualified.)

Do you relate to any of the above? It’s okay if you do, it doesn’t mean that there’s no way out. In fact, there is a way out – and there is a happier, healthier you on the other side of toxic shame. Working through and healing from toxic shame is a process, but with time and a good support system you can start to see changes take hold!

When beginning this healing process, I like to discuss the difference with my therapy clients between normal shame and toxic shame – it can be helpful to better understand how shame shows up in your life, why it shows up, and how to work through it if you can first determine what’s toxic versus what isn’t.

Where Does Toxic Shame Come From?

If you experience shame, congratulations, you’re human! We all experience it from time to time. There’s not one cut and dry answer for why toxic shame exists. Focusing into these feelings can be insightful into the potential reasoning. Although figuring out the reasoning could be relieving and informative, I want to mention that it’s okay if you don’t know. What matters is that this is something that resonates and affects your life, regardless of the “why” behind it.

"I have tried counseling for about a decade with various counselors and have never been able to connect or grow with them. [My Growing Self Coach] has connected with me genuinely and helped me grow more in two meetings then several counselors have done in a decade.”

— Coaching Client

How Do I Stop Experiencing Toxic Shame?

Toxic shame thrives in avoidance, ignorance, and secrecy, and it wants to keep you isolated. By illuminating our feelings and giving them attention, we can start to protect ourselves from feelings of toxic shame. 

It can be painful in the beginning to show up for yourself in this way. If you have been experiencing toxic shame for sometime, you might feel like the darker blanket of avoidance is more comforting than the unfamiliar air of illumination, but if you sit in the sun for just a little bit you’ll start to feel the warmth of bringing to light toxic shame and working through the experiences that hold you back. 

If you want to make lasting changes in your relationships, workplace, and personal life – the first step is going to be identifying your toxic shame triggers and developing techniques to help you heal. 

Here’s a list of other things you can try when experiencing toxic shame:

  • Identify your triggers (think about emotional states, people, places, or events that increase your shame)
  • Create alternative thoughts or coping techniques
  • Talk with a therapist or coach about your shame
  • Confide in your friends and family about your experiences with shame (it’s likely they’ve had similar experiences!)
  • Find a mantra that you can tell yourself in times of shame

Is there a Treatment for Toxic Shame?

Unfortunately there isn’t a magic shame pill or “Stop it!” button to help us from experiencing toxic shame. I believe that if you’ve already identified that toxic shame is something you struggle with, you’re already on your way to healing. Self compassion is a useful tool to help combat toxic shame.

If you aren’t familiar with self compassion, I encourage you to reach out to a friend, loved one, or support group that can help encourage you on this journey. Many times when we are stuck in an unhealthy place – it’s hard to see the good or light that may be part of us or surrounding us – having someone or a group of people who can help call out the good and lovely in you can be very helpful. 

Here are a couple ways to practice self compassion:

  • Accept that the moment is painful or uncomfortable
  • Respond kindly and gently to yourself
  • Honor your feelings
  • Remember that imperfection is part of being human

For more information of self compassion and tips for practicing self compassion in your daily rituals see:
Mindful Self Compassion
How to Practice Self-Love
Emotional Self Care When Your Life is Falling Apart

Getting Help for Toxic Shame

Sometimes it’s difficult to face toxic shame alone, and you shouldn’t have to. Working with a trained professional, whether a coach or counselor, can help you navigate toxic shame, vulnerability, and self compassion. When working through toxic shame, you may experience other emotions that come up – anger, hurt, unforgiveness, feeling unworthy, overwhelmed, or sad all the time. I want to remind you that there is good for you, there is happiness, and you can feel confident and worthy once again. It just takes time. 

 

Wishing you warmth and healing, 
Megan Brice

 

Denver Career Coach Online Career Counselor Therapist in Broomfield Online Therapy

Megan Brice, M.S., LPCC is a career counselor, life coach and therapist who creates a warm environment for you to explore the depths of who you are, so you can grow. She challenges, encourages, and empowers you to embrace transition in order to create future fulfillment.

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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Attachment Styles: Relationship Help

Attachment Styles: Relationship Help

Attachment Styles: Relationship Help

What's the Deal with Attachment Styles?

Do you ever wonder why you “overreact” when your partner doesn’t text you on the way home? Or do you feel unable to commit or truly connect in a relationship? These are very common (and yet stressful!) experiences that relate to your attachment style. 

In a nutshell, your attachment style describes the way you experience relationships. It describes how you feel about intimacy, dependence, trust, and how you get your needs met in relationships. Your particular style of relating to others was formed during your early experiences with your parents or caregivers. 

Before you feel that you may be doomed, let me step back and explain a little more. Everyone has an attachment style (you can find out what yours is here: Attachment Style Quiz), because we all need to be dependent on and attached to others. From birth, we have to depend on other people in order to survive. We rely on our parents for food, comfort and emotional regulation. Based on these experiences, we form an “internal working model” of the world: an understanding of the way the world works and how we get our needs met. 

Even our nervous systems develop based on the environment we were raised in. Predictability calms our nervous systems, while instability causes us to be on high alert. If our parents were inconsistent or unresponsive, our nervous system accommodats by learning to be more sensitive, or sometimes less sensitive, to relational dynamics. All of these factors influence the way you think about yourself and relationships.

What Are The 4 Different Attachment Styles?

The 4 attachment styles are Secure, Avoidant, Anxious, and Disorganized. Here are a few general qualities of each style:

Secure Attachment 

  • You are able to reach out and ask for what you need
  • You generally feel calm when needs are met
  • When you are not with your partner, you miss them but you feel ok

Avoidant Attachment

  • You are afraid of being overwhelmed and losing independence
  • You find it hard to depend on romantic partners
  • You don’t enjoy the feeling that others are depending on you

Anxious Attachment

  • You tend to obsess over relationships
  • You tend to second guess and over-analyze
  • You tend to attach quickly to others

Disorganized Attachment

  • You grew up with a history of trauma or very chaotic caregiving
  • You feel that the people you trust are going to hurt you, because that is what you experienced most as a child
  • You feel drawn to relationships, and yet tend to reject others and/or feel rejected

Grow, Together.

Before we sought help from you, I was at a point in my relationship that I had really given up on hope... you have changed our lives.

— Couples Counseling Client

Is Your Attachment Style Getting In The Way Of Real Happiness?

Attachment styles impact the way we view the world. If we struggle with viewing the world as unsafe, people as untrustworthy, or ourselves as fundamentally flawed, we will probably not be as happy. We will most likely feel more depressed, anxious, and sad. 

Unfortunately, sometimes our attachment styles can trap us in self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe that people are untrustworthy, you may be on the lookout for areas where people will let you down or may avoid reaching out for help, reinforcing the idea that you have to do life alone. 

Additionally, insecure attachment styles have been linked to a variety of mental health disorders, and even physical health outcomes.

Are Attachment Styles Unhealthy In Relationships?

For better or worse, our attachment needs are activated in intimate relationships. Do you ever wonder why you “overreact” when your partner doesn’t text you on the way home? It could be because this activates your fear of abandonment because you learned as a child that people couldn’t be relied on to take care of you. 

Or do you feel unable to commit or truly engage in a relationship? It could be because of a more avoidant attachment style, a need to keep people at arm’s length to keep yourself emotionally safe. 

Differences in attachment styles can cause anxiety and stress, because you and your partner have different ways of looking at the world and different attachment needs. 

Insecure attachment styles can become unhealthy when you are unaware of your needs and get into a negative spiral with your partner. This often happens with couples, and it is important to recognize the negative spirals and how your attachment styles may be contributing to the ways you are hurting each other. 

Key Indicators That You May Have An Unhealthy Attachment Style

If you think you may have an insecure attachment style, here are some things to think about:

  1. Notice the patterns in your relationships. Do you tend to attach quickly, end things with people who care about you, or feel incredibly anxious in relationships? Usually, we can see our attachment style when we look at patterns in our relationships.
  2. Notice how you feel about intimacy or being close to someone.
  3. Notice your reactions when someone feels distant from you.

What To Do If You Have An Unhealthy Attachment Style

Thankfully, our negative early experiences of attachment do not mean that we are doomed to insecure attachment! Humans are incredibly resilient and can grow over time. If you have an insecure attachment style, there are a few things you can do: 

  1. Become aware of your attachment style. How do you think about your painful experiences as a child? Do you dismiss them or feel overwhelmed by them? It is important to acknowledge the things that impact you. If you don’t, these painful experiences will continue to cause pain and impact you without your awareness. Your emotions are important and give you information about what is important to you. You can learn more by reading about attachment or working with a therapist.
  2. Build secure relationships. Secure relationships take work, especially if you naturally have an insecure attachment style. However, you can grow into secure attachment if you are with a partner who is willing and able to work with you. Securely attached relationship skills can be practiced. Here are a few things that you can do:
  • Communicate your needs without blaming or assuming
  • Expect to be treated well
  • Be responsive to your partner's emotional needs
  • Choose to be vulnerable with your emotions and fears (especially if you are avoidant)

Finally, please know that this topic is difficult. Because it strikes at the core of who we are and opens up memories that we sometimes hide, talking about our attachment styles and experiences can cause a lot of pain or confusion. If you find that this topic causes pain, it may be helpful to reach out to a therapist or coach to process. A trained therapist or coach can help you see the way attachment styles play out in your relationships, help you process and integrate your experiences, and help you make sense of the patterns in your life. Being aware of your attachment style can help you live life more intentionally and fully. 

With hope for your journey and growth,

Ashlyn 

P.S. I wanted to provide you with some additional resources in case you would like to read up on your attachment style further:

What is your attachment style? Take the quiz here: Attachment Style Quiz

Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson

Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin

Dr. Rachel Merlin, DMFT, LMFT, M.S.Ed.

Ashlyn King, M.S., MFTC helps her clients navigate challenges related to relationships, family, parenting, painful life experiences, and loss. She can help you find your inner strength and move forward towards your goal of personal growth, partnership, and healing.

Real Help For Your Relationship

Lots of couples go through challenging times, but the ones who turn "rough-patches" into "growth moments" can come out the other side stronger and happier than ever before.

 

Working with an expert couples counselor can help you create understanding, empathy and open communication that felt impossible before.

 

Start your journey of growth together by scheduling a free consultation.

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Healing Your Relationship After An Emotional Affair

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Becoming a Better Listener

Becoming a Better Listener

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Personal Growth: The Greatest Gift

In this season of gift giving, it can be easy to forget what our loved ones really want: Our unconditional love, trust, kindness, appreciation, attention, time, understanding, empathy, respect, emotional safety, and cherishing. However, we can't give those to others without prioritizing our own wellness. On this episode of the podcast, learn the personal growth strategies that will help you grow into your best self, and also become a true blessing in the lives of others.

The Importance of Healthy Friendships

The Importance of Healthy Friendships

The Importance of Healthy Friendships

Invest in Healthy Friendships

The FRIENDSHIP CONNECTION: It’s more apparent than ever how fundamentally important our healthy friendships are to our wellbeing. As a Denver therapist and online life coach, I often speak with my online therapy clients about how empty and meaningless life can feel when they don’t have supportive friends and family with whom to share their journey, celebrate their success, and turn to for comfort and guidance in difficult times. 

Is this true for you, too? If so, developing friendships and creating a supportive, solid friendship network may be an important goal on your overall journey of creating the life you want. But even if the desire for stronger friendships exists, it can be hard to build genuinely healthy friendships — especially as an adult. Why is it so much harder to develop close friendships as an adult? The obvious answer is “because, time.” But here's a new idea: Most 30+ adults simply don't prioritize their friendships the same way they did during simpler times of life.

Let's be real: Many busy, successful professionals to put their cultivation of healthy friendships on the back burner and prioritize everything else instead. When you are juggling kids, a job, a spouse, and a house, it can feel like an indulgence to just “hang out” with friends (either virtually, or in-person). However, what emerging research into evolutionary biology, neuroscience and mental health is uncovering is that prioritizing your healthy friendships, even if it just feels like hanging out, is actually one of the single most important, impactful things you can do with your time and energy.

Fun fact: The non-productive, non-goal oriented time we spend messing around, doing nothing in particular, and simply being together with friends has — wait for it — about the same impact on your health as does quitting smoking cigarettes. But that's just the start of the avalanche of positive consequences of cultivating healthy friendships. Having friends and being a friend is actually one of the most important things you can do, if your goal is to be a happy, healthy human.

So if you, too, have bought into the idea that “it's harder to make close friends as an adult” consider this new idea: The biggest obstacle to adult friendships is lack of conscious understanding of the importance of friends. Once you get that, then it gets easier to become committed to putting the time and energy into building positive relationships. (And friendships will follow). 

Why is Healthy Friendship Important? 

Step one is building the understanding of why healthy friendships are so vital. Consider the opposite of friendship: Disconnection. When we’re disconnected from our friends and loved ones it takes a toll, mentally, emotionally, and even physically. We know from research into biology and neuro-science that healthy friendships are a core component of not just enjoying life and feeling subjectively happier, but even having a biological impact on the way our bodies function. 

Scientific facts about friendship indicate that, across the board, people who invest in their friendships experience benefits in many parts of their lives that seem unrelated. There is a measurable connection between friendship and health. For example, people who report having stronger, healthier friendships live longer, have increased immunity to disease, and are often buffered from the chronic stressors that are known to impair your health and wellness.

When we invest in healthy relationships and strong friendships, we are doing just as much to improve our health as we are by exercising, eating well, and yes, even quitting smoking. When you build relationships, you’re preventing health problems — even if it just feels like you’re hanging out and enjoying yourself. (Bonus points for exercising with your friends!)

The Role of Friends in Our Life

We often think of friends as a source of enjoyment, but the truth is that the role of healthy friendships goes much deeper. For example, in supportive, intimate friendships we find a sense of belonging. We also have people we can turn to in moments of hardship and personal stress, or when you're grieving a loss. While your friends may not be able to do anything to “fix” the situation, the experience of sharing your story with someone who cares may in itself be healing.

Having emotionally supportive people to turn to (whether or not you're actually talking about “it”) has a measurable impact on our stress levels, both physiological stress and the stress we're aware of. There is a very well established connection between chronic stress and chronic health issues. If you want to improve your health, it may be more impactful for you to spend an hour a day strengthening your positive friendships than hitting the gym by yourself. Consider it!

Friends and Mental Health

Having healthy friendships is also strongly associated with mental health, as well as physical health. People who feel isolated or lonely are more vulnerable to feelings of depression and anxiety. But even more importantly, having relationships with people who are invested in their own personal growth and mental health can be enormously inspiring for you to take steps to cultivate your own. 

Aside from the chance to talk to friends, which is an emotional buffer in itself, getting out of your comfort zone and opening up to friends increases the chance that you’ll wind up working on yourself. For example, having a good friend tell you that they, personally have found a good therapist and are enjoying therapy makes it much more likely that you will feel comfortable in seeking out your own life coach or therapist online or in person. Being connected to other people who are on a journey of personal growth and self-development lifts you up, too. 

In contrast, if you are close friends with someone who is NOT investing in their own wellness, and who is in the grips of depression or anxiety, it will bemore likely that you yourself will feel worse instead of better. 

So in addition to seeking out healthy friendships with people who are actively on a quest of self-improvement, by taking an active role in your own personal growth and self-development it will also lift your friends up too. You will become a source of inspiration and a role model for people in your friend group who may be struggling. Investing in yourself lifts everyone around you! 

How to Cultivate Relationships & Be a Good Friend

It can be difficult for busy adults to find the time and energy to create new friendships or invest in your existing friendships in order to make them stronger. A fundamental piece of healthy friendships is a cooperative, reciprocal generosity of mutual caring and support. Making new friends and investing in your old friends is definitely a commitment of time and energy. However, it’s a worthy investment that has the power to build and strengthen many aspects of your life as well as theirs. 

Having a good relationship with a friend requires mutual generosity, but cultivating a genuinely supportive social network may also involve recognizing that some of your friendships are not positive and need to be released. There are such things as unhealthy friendships, and if you’ve been in a relationship with a selfish person or someone who’s mental health issues are preventing them from being a good friend to you, it may be time to set some healthy boundaries for yourself. Your focusing on building positive relationships and your own mental and emotional wellness may, longer-term, inspire them to do the same.

Understanding Healthy Friendships, With Lydia Denworth

To support YOU in your understanding of the importance of healthy friendships, and to deepen you understanding of what it really takes to build supportive relationships in your life, I’ve invited science journalist and author Lydia Denworth to speak with me about her new book, “Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond.”  (Learn more about Lyda and her work at LydaDenworth.com

She shares what her painstaking research has uncovered about why friendships are so important to us, the risks of neglecting your friendships, the impact of friendships on children and adolescents, and — perhaps most importantly — concrete strategies for how to build and nurture your friendships during social distancing.

Specifically, we’re discussing:

  • The impact of friendship on your brain and your body
  • How friendships develop
  • The importance of showing up
  • Why we need our friends in good times and in bad
  • How to help your kids develop healthy friendships
  • How to develop healthy friendships as an adult

Listen to our conversation, to learn about the importance of healthy friendship and how to build strong friendship connections.

xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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The Importance of Healthy Friendships

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She's the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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Radical Acceptance: How to Cope in Uncertain Times

Radical Acceptance: How to Cope in Uncertain Times

Radical Acceptance: How to Cope in Uncertain Times

Radical Acceptance

Unprecedented: Crisis.

This word captures the magnitude of the impact of the COVID19 health crisis has had on every area of our lives. The impact is both intensely personal and at the same time being experienced by our entire global human community. 

For many of us, worries about the immediate and long-term future have reached a tipping point, with fear of the unknown threatening to overwhelm our ability to manage it. For those who have previously struggled with anxiety and depression, the sense of overwhelm is compounded.

Unprecedented: Fear, Anxiety, and Uncertainty. 

Having unlimited amounts of time socially isolated, without our usual routines has been unsettling. Economic uncertainty is a threat to our livelihood. Our instinctive response to a threat is to become hyper-vigilant; a stress-based state of readiness. Many of us have taken heed of the safety precautions necessary to stay safe while out in the world, such as wearing face masks, social distancing, and washing our hands. 

However, this constant physiological state of stress is counterproductive to maintaining a strong immune system. Studies have shown that stress impacts our immune system negatively, due to the release of stress hormones which take a toll on our bodies.

In order to truly maintain our health, we are encouraged to look within; to learn more about how to create wellness in our inner world—our true selves.

Unprecedented: Opportunity. 

As uncomfortable and disrupting as it is, this crisis has presented us with an unprecedented opportunity to slow down, and to connect with our selves in a way that may not have been possible while we were engaged in our busy daily lives. We have an opportunity to become mindful – to consider where we are, how we got here—and if desired— make adjustments or start over.

Research over the past several decades validates both the short and long term benefits of mindfulness in shoring up our immune system. As you learn to regulate your emotions and develop mindfulness, you will also be providing a boost to your immune system. 

Radical Acceptance and Mindfulness are two practices that can be cultivated to reduce stress to our immune systems and ground our selves in a more beneficial psychological mindset—offering an unparalleled opportunity for development of personal stability. 

Simply understood, radical acceptance means we acknowledge that things are “as they are.” This is a first step, not the end game. It is simply an acknowledgment of the reality of what has happened or what is currently happening, both outside and inside of us. 

Radical Acceptance

Let me emphasize: Radical acceptance is not the same as “agreeing with” or passively allowing unacceptable situations or behaviors from others. It simply means you fully face reality “as it is” so you can see clearly without distortions and take appropriate action as necessary.

Once we accept reality as it is, we can then consider if and how we’d like to change it.  Rather than judging what is happening, and spending energy on objecting and telling stories about it; we acknowledge  “OK, this is happening.” Then we ask, “Now, how do I want to handle it?”

How does this help us? Objecting to reality actually intensifies our emotional reaction and clouds our ability to think clearly and make the best decisions. Caveat: Developing Radical Acceptance is not necessarily easy. Change rarely is. Adapting our patterns of behavior requires focused attention and effort, but it is within our control and the benefits are immediately realized.

Consider the following scenario, which demonstrates two approaches to a circumstance

Let’s imagine a typical situation befalls two women; I’ll call them Maggie and Sarah. They get into a traffic accident while driving on the highway. 

After the initial shock, Maggie becomes angry because she believes the accident was caused by Sarah’s error. This causes her to get out of her car and confront Sarah, putting herself in danger. She then calls her husband and spends time and energy retelling what happened and defending herself – forgetting that she needs to call the insurance company to report the accident. 

Maggie is stuck in a mental loop. Maggie is adding suffering to what is an unfortunate circumstance. She also misses the opportunity to feel gratitude for the fact that she was not harmed. She is making a bad situation worse by objecting to the reality of the situation. 

However, Sarah is more mindful. Rather than objecting to reality, Sarah moves more quickly from shock to accepting what is — which is that she has been in an accident. She doesn’t focus on whose fault it was; she knows insurance will handle that. Instead, she focuses on the here and now, and is grateful that both she and the other driver appear to be unharmed. Because she is less emotional, Sarah can see things from a wider perspective. She was shaken from the accident but remains in control of her emotions, she is not rejecting or judging reality. When Maggie approaches her, she remains in her car and keeps her cool. She avoids a potentially heated exchange. She has the where-with-all to call her insurance company and the police from the safety of her car. 

This example illustrates in a simple way how radical acceptance allows us to face reality as it is, and make the best decisions we can. Neither woman was able to change the reality of the situation. They were both in a car accident. However, the event was much more draining for Maggie, and impacted her well being more negatively.  This is an example of how radical acceptance can help us to reduce our suffering. 

Radical acceptance is well expressed in this well-known excerpt from The Serenity Prayer (Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Applying Radical Acceptance to the Moment

If there is one thing this global pandemic has made abundantly clear, it is that no matter how well we plan (and yes we should plan) there are many things out of our immediate control. In light of this fact, we can use radical acceptance to discern what it is we do have control over within our circumstances, and how to make best use of our energy toward the well being of others and our selves.  

Here are some practical tips for how to apply radical acceptance to the moment:

Ground yourself in the present moment. – Often, much of our anxiety is based on fear of the future. When anxiety threatens to overwhelm you, try focusing your attention on what is coming through your 5 senses: What do you see, what do you hear, what are you feeling in your body, do you have a taste in your mouth, can you smell anything. Breathe into these sensations. Doing this for one or two minutes will significantly reduce your anxiety and allow you to solve problems with more clarity.

Move your body – Check in with how your body feels; do you feel tightness in your chest? Is your breathing rapid, or shallow? Do you feel tension in your neck? Once you have determined that these bodily sensations are not related to sickness, try stretching, going for a walk nearby, or put on some music and dance around the living room, joy in movement is a great stress reliever!

Limit media exposure of the news – While it is important to stay aware of the most recent updates, try to limit your intake to that which is actionable, and will actually make a difference to your day-to-day functioning. Once you have the information you need, turn off the news, and seek other forms of relaxation and entertainment. Perhaps finally binge-watching that TV show you have never had time for, or maybe find a good comedy special. Laughter is the best medicine!

Develop mindfulness – Mindfulness means paying attention to what is happening inside of you and outside of you, in the present moment, without judgment.  Mindfulness is not necessarily quieting your mind, although that may happen as you cultivate this practice. Rather, mindfulness lets us widen our view of any given moment, so that we see ourselves within what is happening. This small shift in perception can help us avoid getting absorbed in thought and anxiety. It’s like putting a wedge between you and your thoughts and emotions, which allows you to realize that you are NOT your thoughts or emotions. With practice, you come to see that your awareness is constant, it is the thoughts and emotions that come and go. This space is where the magic happens and where freedom from the grip of anxiety may be possible.

The ground we gain by tending to our internal experience will serve us both now and all the days of our lives. In a life full of uncertainty and the inevitability of change, the ability to ground and regulate ourselves in our Self is an opportunity to become familiar with a truly constant and stable place. 

Developing these mindfulness practices requires practice. Working with a life coach or individual therapist can help facilitate the development of these skills. The best part is, when we are better able to cope our selves, we help others we are in contact with to become more grounded as well.

Warm Wishes, 
Roseann Pascale, M.S., LMFT

Online marriage counseling new york florida online couples therapist

Roseann Pascale, M.A., LMFT is an empathetic and intuitive couples counselor, therapist and coach. Through authentic connection and a down to earth demeanor, Roseann can guide you in developing clarity and cultivating well-being. Using the practices of mindfulness and values-driven action, she helps individuals and couples overcome their challenges and create fulfillment in all aspects of life.

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Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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