Let’s Hear It For The Boys

I said I wanted to highlight the efforts of the individuals I see on a daily basis. If I were asked to pick one person who stood out, I don’t believe I would be able to do it. They are all incredibly amazing in their own way. There is however, one group that stands out to me and those are my young/early adult males. When I was a young therapist I recall stating that the young adult male was my least preferred client because they “knew everything” or were the most uncooperative. I can say today half of my clients are males between the ages of 25-40. I am constantly amazed by their desire to make changes in their lives and by their willingness to step out of their comfort zone and put their trust in me.

These men come in for a variety of reasons; post trauma recovery, anger management, relationship counseling, career coaching. Regardless the reason, the motivation is within all of them.

They sit in my office comfortably distanced from me on the opposite side of my desk, hoping the barriers of my tablet and laptop will protect them from emotional vulunerability. It doesn’t. I anxiously await the day when they are able to come in and sit on the rich dark brown leather loveseat and relax. One day. Their pens and notebooks are in hand waiting for a task, because we can’t possibly just sit and talk about stuff. I especially appreciate the ones who talk nearly the entire time even though their first sentence was, “I don’t share my feelings with people and I won’t do it here.” Okay.

These men have made a choice to try something new. To take a different path. They have stepped out of the box and allowed themselves to be vulnerable and available for change. That is a pretty scary place to be and I can’t help but respect and appreciate it. Hats off to the men seeking to better themselves. I’ve got your back.

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Agree to Disagree

Recently I have been doing more work with couples, which I am growing to enjoy with each couple I meet. It is fascinating to see two individuals who are seemingly so different, work to co-exist in a relationship that demands compromise. Unfortunately, when you are dealing with two personalities and also two genders; there is likely to be some conflict. Science has already proven to us that the male and female brains have differences that affect how we see, interpret, and react to things. Then mix in the different temperaments, which also influence behaviors.

Differences and conflict in and of themself are not bad things. They often makes us think a little and once in a blue moon we might even consider the other parties perspective. The challenge comes when there is no willingness to even accept that a different approach is possible. With this type of attitude, one party in the relationship is bound to feel dismissed and devalued.

I am often asked, “so am I supposed to just say I am wrong when I don’t feel I am wrong?” Not exactly, but how about simply saying, “I hear you” or “So this made you feel…” or even “I see where you may have thought that”. That gesture alone will at least make the other person feel validated. And isn’t that what we want? Okay so some of us want to be right, but most of us just want to be heard and validated.

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Ten Words or Less

I am so used to teaching parents that when implementing discipline there is no need for much dialogue. If the rules, and consequences for breaking the rules, was preestablished then there is no need for debate. I tell them 10 words or less, to ensure the child is listening and processing. I give similar advice to adults when verbal communication becomes ineffective. I recently worked with a client who wanted to repair a relationship, but knew a discussion would lead to fighting. I simply said, “what would happen if you just gave them a hug?” The response was, “well they would probably hug back”. How about we give that a try. Sometimes less is better. Just like some blogposts. It is okay to be brief and still make a point. I’m learning.

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Feel the Pain

To-Feel-The-Pain

I have experienced my share of loss over the years and I have learned that no matter what it is I have lost, the process of dealing with it seems to be the same. There was initially a sense of pain and hurt, then came the journey to normalcy and finally a period of reflection on the message or lesson learned.

Loss can be a result of something minor like a piece of jewelry or something with a greater impact, such as a loss of a family member or friend. As I reflect on things I have lost, my mind goes from losing my smartphone to a job to both my grandmother and mother. The degree to which these losses impacted me varied greatly, but the process used in dealing with them seemed too similar. Whether the loss was something I anticipated, was the fault of my carelessness, or was completely out of my control seemed to have little influence on how I dealt with it.

What was your first reaction when you experienced a loss of something or someone? It is different for everyone, but did it sound something like this: What? Why? Why me? Why now? Why like this? What did I do wrong? What am I going to do now?

It may have looked like this: crying, staring blankly, cussing, praying, cleaning, eating, not eating, sleeping, not sleeping.

And you may have felt something like this: anger, sadness, confusion, overwhelm, withdrawal.

This is the pain, the hurt. This is when your head throbs and your stomach aches and your chest is pounding and you can’t breathe…

Let’s sit with that for just a moment…

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When I Hear Music…

…it makes me dance!

When attempting to communicate our wants, needs, desires, and feelings we are sometimes at a loss for words. As a result, we often turn to the talented singers and song writers to help put words to our feelings. We can pull out our ipods, log in to itunes, search youtube, or simply turn on the radio and find a song that expresses exactly what we are feeling at that moment. I have found that this is a great way to connect with others, especially to teens. They live and breathe music. I often will ask them to name a song that expresses how they feel. I will then look it up and print out the lyrics. Whoa, if you only could see what I see. These kids are hurting and doing it silently and they aren’t the only ones.

I absolutely love music of all genres and as a result, I have so many that are dear to me. I could not possibly select a favorite. However, the following are a few that make my heart sing (or cry).

Beautiful (Christina Aguilera) – Having worked with children for nearly 17 years, I believe every child should listen to this song daily from age 5 to 12. We have got to stop tearing our children down and work harder to build them up.

I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor) – It seems like this song has a greater impact to our middle age women. By about age 40, we have all experienced something that we felt we could not overcome, but somehow we survived.

Forget You (Cee-Lo) – Now I have to first say I am not a fan of the original title. I strongly believe “forget you” works perfectly. So this song is for the guys, but not solely. I mean falling in love and losing that love to someone else is tough, but how uplifting is it to be able to say, “forget you, oo oo ooo!” I love it.

Earth Song (Michael Jackson) – Gotta have a song for the world, right? This song, especially with the video, is so powerful and speak volumes to what we as human beings have done to each other and our environment. Shame on us! Listening to this song makes me feel compassion!

So what’s your go to song? What does it represent and what does it do for you?

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Calgon Take Me Away

I always pride myself on being a city girl. Loving the excitement of the fast pace, the brightness of the lights, and the busyness of the people surrounding me. It excites me. So naturally, when I need to take myself to a place of calmness I go to Africa (in my mind of course). I imagine a place that is warm, no hot!!! I imagine a place where animals are moving about slowly. A place where the air is still and quiet.

It is odd to me that this is the type of place I think of given I am not an outdoors kind of person and I am not fond of critters. But that is the beauty of the imagination. I can leave out the creepy crawlies and just enjoy the stillness. How peaceful it is, even if just for a moment.

Where would you imagine going to let your mind relax, even if just for a moment?

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Why We Write

In my daily life coaching practice, I regularly recommend that my clients write. Sometimes the writing is with a specific purpose and other times it is simply free association of whatever comes to mind. Journaling is an excellent way to release intense emotion in a healthy way and it also provides a tool to help process what is consuming our thoughts. Blogging serves  a similar purpose, the only difference is it is public. So why would I want to publicly display emotions, thoughts, and thought processes? Well, for me it is a way to connect with others with the goal of sharing, supporting, challenging, and encouraging. These are things that motivate us to keep moving forward one day at a time, one choice at a time. In this space I want to celebrate the efforts of the many people I have encountered and offer suggestions for some of the most common issues that have been presented. I also hope to highlight that changes we make no matter how small, to better ourselves. I do recognize expressing your emotions and allowing yourself to be vulnerable can be overwhelming at times and so I want this blog site to be a place to slow down, find clarity, and move forward. That is my ultimate goal.

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