The Real Struggle of Grief

We simply don't want it to be. We can't accept it. Mostof all we don't want to accept it. When we first received the news of aloved one's death, we rejected the news with such comments as:

  • No, it can't be.

  • Are you sure? Somebody must have made a mistake!

  • How can that be? I just talked with him/her yesterday!

  • Maybe there's been a mix-up in the medical charts. Hospitals can make a mistake!Right?

  • No! No!! No!!! No!!!! NO!!!!!

With every fiber of our being we fight a reality that we can't wrap our minds around. How can someone be present one moment and gone the next? We are like the two tantrumyear old who has been told NO. The angry child throws a temper tantrum with their whole body because they arerejecting a reality that they cannot and will not tolerate. When the news of our loved one is delivered we fight totally a reality that we will not tolerate or cannot be able to accept at that moment...mentally, physically, emotionally, mentally, socially or spiritually. How can it be? It was never meant to be this way!IT ALL SEEMS SO UNFAIR!

That's where the true struggle in grief comes from. We are forced to accept what to us is the unacceptable. Healing comes when we not only accept the facts of the death in our minds but the emotional impact onour hearts. With the support and understanding of compassionate and listening people in our lives, we mourners can start to do that.

Remember that grief is a process that takes time. It is not an event. But most important to remember is that grief  should never be done alone and in silence. Reaching out for help and support in the grief journey is the first step toward healing and hope. 

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Fostering Positive Behaviors in Children

Parents and caregivers who recognize that behavior has a purpose and is typically influenced by other factors can help children construct the essential skills to communicate more effectively. 

When the going gets tough try these out!

1. Boost Good Behavior - Praise your child for correct behavior. “Catch” them doing the right things.

2. Provide Structure and Consistency - Young children need regular schedules and guidelines. Constancy helps provide a safe and predictable environment. 

3. Gather Data - Keep a log of challenging behaviors. When does the behavior occur? What is the child doing before and after it happens? What is going on in the child’s life when the behavior takes place. If you see a pattern, then you can create strategies to address that behavior. 

4. Change the Setting - Remove the child from the immediate setting so a behavior is reduced or eliminated.

5. Offer Options - Give your child options by offering basic choices. To keep things simple, it’s best to give only two options, such as, “Do you want to wear pants or a dress today?” 

8. Avoid Power Struggles - Try to negotiate with your child. An example could be, “I’ll pick up one toy and then you pick up one toy".

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The Depression Lens

Depression is avery real and serious illness that can leave you feeling completely hopeless, helpless, and out of control. Sometimes it can seem like we have put on a new pair of glasses, or lens, and suddenly everything in our past and everything in our future looks different. It's important to remember that looking through a new lens can change everything and we want to be sure we are aware of the lens we are wearing.  

Now, this is not to say that the lense of depression is not real, or that the feelings one has while depressed isn't real, because they are. However, we have to be aware of what we are looking through because otherwise our whole past and future could become clouded with unhelpful or tainted versions of the truth.

If you are the one struggling with depression, it's important to talk to someone that knows and loves you well. Try exploring with them if your feelings are based in facts, or if your facts are being changed to fit your feelings. It can be hard to recognize this yourself, so feel free to also talk to a professional. Depression is a very treatable disease and it all starts by acknowledging that we are seeing and feeling things differently than before.  

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What Not To Say To Your Spouse In 2019

In the spirit of the New Year and resolutions, consider taking time to reflect on ways to be a better partner in word and deed. The tendency may be to tell your partner how he or she could be a better spouse, but first try to lead by example. Below you will find a list of statements or approaches that can be detrimental to a relationship if not addressed. As you go through the list, give yourself kudos for the ones you are already avoiding and use that momentum to rid your speech and conduct of the other items. In all of these, the underlying notion is promoting validation and empathy in the relationship as they are two crucial components to feeling loved. 

  • Avoid using extremes in statements such as “You always, You never, You’re constantly, You’re the worst, You’re the most difficult” etc

  • Now that we’ve touched on that, NEVER threaten divorce or leave if you don’t want it to happen. This erodes the foundational commitment you made in your vow.

  • Eliminate name-calling, expletive slander and intentional putdowns 

  • Abstain from projecting poor behavior or decisions as character flaws 

  • Do not joke about life after this marriage or with another person

  • Avoid telling your spouse they need to stop talking or calm down; instead ask for space or a time out.

Comedian Tim Hawkins provides additional more specific tips for husbands here if needed. 

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Transferable Skills

When considering a job change is an important concept of which to be familiar. Transferrable skills can be a key factor in your resume, cover letter, and interview. What are transferrable skills? Transferrable skills are any skills you have acquired throughout your lifetime. They can be from jobs, classes, projects, parenting, hobbies, or anything that can be transferable and applicable to what you want to do in your next job. If you are applying for a job in your current field it is pretty easy to find skills you have to transfer to a similar job. However if you are changing careers or an entry level job seeker, it is much more difficult. To know what skills to highlight you should first know some about the employer and the specific job you are applying for. The job posting usually gives you a good idea of the skills they are looking for. It also can’t hurt to put skills every employer is looking for like punctuality, working in a team, communication, and leadership skills. Also think of other skills you have and how you can transfer it to what you want to be doing and how you can portray it that way. If you can’t make a skill fit what you want to be doing, leave it out. For example, you’ve spent the last year off of work raising twins. Transferrable skills could include: multi-tasking, patience, time management, and teamwork. 

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How "Stuffing It" Hurts

Conflict is rarely an area of relationships in which anyone becomes comfortable, yet anyone with healthy and growing relationships will tell you that conflict is inevitable. All too often, in the swirl of uncomfortable feelings that surround initiating difficult conversations or voicing another perspective in midst of an already tense interaction, it seems wiser—or at least safer—to self-silence. All sorts of messages begin popping into the mind, justifying why it is better to keep quiet. “He won't understand…I don’t want to start a fight…She’ll be so upset with herself if I tell that she hurt me…” So the emotions get pushed down and ignored. 

But like a beach ball in a pool, feelings can only be pushed down so much before they find another avenue of escape. Emotions that are stuffed down and left undealt with at best inhibit conversations that lead to deeper understanding and connection within the relationship, and at worst stew into resentments that lead to passive aggressive or even aggressive attempts to indirectly communicate dissatisfaction, ultimately causing even greater damage to the relationship. Either way, avoiding the discussion of awkward or distressing feelings and experiences obstructs the free flow of communication, which is the foundation and life-blood of every relationship. 

So as difficult as it may feel, lean in and speak up. It is important to share your thoughts and feelings in close relationships, especially the burdensome ones. If the idea of sharing those feelings is too overwhelming, try scripting out what you want to say. It may also be helpful to see a counseling professional who can help you develop the skills and confidence needed to engage well with your emotions and communicate them effectively. 

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30/60/90 Dating Tip

Are you ready to have a serious relationship? Do you want to stop wasting your time dating for months or years, just for it to end? Get off the dating roller coaster. Start by looking back over your past relationship and decide what you liked and did not like. Formulate that list of wants for your future relationship. Most importantly learn from your past mistakes. 

Once you meet someone, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Do they treat me better than I treat myself? Are they interesting? Do we have common values? Do I want to see that person's face in the morning?

If you answer yes to the majority of these questions, please set up a 30/60/90 date rule. The idea is to be able to talk over ‘red flags’ in a calm respectful way. This means you cannot become defensive when you hear something you do not like and they cannot get defensive when they hear something they do not like. The key is “Calm and Respectful”. If you both cannot handle opening up about flaws in a caring manner then the relationship will not grow. 

So, set a date 30 days after the both of you believe this relationship is going to become exclusive. At the 30 day mark, have a nice dinner. Talk over the issues - calming and respectfully. If this conversation goes well, set another date 30 days out. This is your 60 day date. Again talk about the old issues; did you get better; did they get better. Talk about new issues that might have popped up - Calmly and Respectfully. If this conversation goes well, set another date for 30 days out. This will be your 90 day date. During this date you talk over the previous issues plus any new issues then talk about if you want the relationship to move forward. If you both in agreement, then you have achieved a solid foundation of communication that will get you thru most of what the world throws at you. If not, then you know with your whole heart that you tried and it was not a good fit. 

These dates are to help establish good communication skills that are key to having a healthy relationship. Remember to be Calm and Respectful during your interactions. 

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Children and Emotional Difficulties

Many children face emotional difficulties from time to time. Feelings of anger, loss, sadness and emotional extremes are part of growing up. Disagreements between parents and children might be unavoidable as children struggle from the “terrible twos” through adolescence to create their identities. These are common changes in behavior due to growth and development. Such problems can be more typical in times of change for the family, such as the death of a family member, a new baby, or a move. Usually, these kinds of problems tend to fade on their or with limited visits to a counselor or other mental health professionals as children adjust to the changes in their lives.

On occasion, however, some children may develop intense emotional and behavioral responses to situations in their lives that persevere over time. The recognition that a child’s behavior requires the help of an expert can be frightening to parents who have tried to support their child, or it may be accepted and internalized as a failure by the parent. 

If you are facing any of these issues, seeking private counseling is a good way to start the process of finding out what is going on with your child's emotional health. Also, make sure you are working with the school counselor. Professional school counselors are a great resource as you begin looking into behaviors that the school is observing. Creating a partnership between school and the therapist is vital in helping your child through the tough times as they grow and mature.

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Sticking To It

Goals and resolutions start with good intentions to make a positive change or achieve a dream, but so often, they become a distant memory. As we continue into this new year, what is the plan to make your resolutions goals that actually transcend?  

Here a few things to consider. Are you setting yourself up for success or biting off more? Is your goal specific enough for you to measure? Do you have small steps planned to achieve the bigger picture.

 Your goal should be SMART! 

  • Specific

  • Measurable 

  • Attainable 

  • Relevant

  • Time specific 

Last but certainly not least, who/what are you doing this for? People are more likely to see something through when they are genuinely motivated. 

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Self-Care

Have you ever found yourself in situations in life where things just don't seem to be going your way? Perhaps you are in a relationship that is more draining than anything. Or, your job could make you feel like a robot who just shows up day after day, not really emotionally or mentally invested. Sometimes we even have friends or acquaintances in our lives that seem to be energy vampires; they are more adept at taking than giving. Why is it that if we have situations like these in our lives we just put up with them? What is it about our conditioning that keeps us from saying "Yes!" to happiness, joy, and thriving? Perhaps we grew up in families, cultures, or societies that value selflessness and putting others first. To be sure, giving and care for others are honorable and valuable qualities in human beings. It is these qualities that allow us to have empathy and connect deeply with others. However, a recent conversation with a client of mine revealed the following wisdom: If we don't take care of ourselves first, and cultivate a healthy and loving relationship with our Self, then we have no Self from which to give and care for others. "In the event that our cabin loses pressure, an oxygen mask will fall down from above you. Secure your mask first and then assist others". So, how can we begin to cultivate this loving relationship with our Selves? How can we shift our paradigm to one that is inclusive and understanding of the importance of taking care of Us? Following are some guidelines that can serve as gentle reminders to move us onto the path of taking care of Self.   


1 - If it feels wrong, don't do it. 
2 - Say "exactly" what you mean.
3 - Don't be a people pleaser.
4 - Trust your instincts.
5 - Never speak badly about yourself.
6 - Never give up on your dreams.
7 - Don't be afraid to say "no".
8 - Don't be afraid to say "yes".
9 - Be kind to yourself.
10 - Let go of what you can't control.
11 - Stay away from drama and negativity.
12 - Love.
(source livelovefruit.com)

These things sound so simple, but you may find that as you go about working on these for yourself, it feels easier and more natural to extend these principles to others. As with many things in life, just keep at it. Practice makes possible.  Sowhat do you think? Ready to put on your oxygen mask?

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