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forgive

How To Forgive

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“How do I forgive? How can I let go? When will this feeling go away? How do I get over this?”

These are phrases I hear daily. These are phrases I’ve asked my own therapist.

The best advice I was given is to find compassion for the person or the behavior as well as for myself. I had no idea what this looked like. I wasn’t even really open to the idea at first. It seemed that if I was compassionate, I would be excusing the person and the behavior. It took me years, if not decades, to allow that compassion to slowly become more present in my life and feel it make a home in my heart. It was DEFINITELY not an easy process.

The more compassion grew inside of me, I finally understood why it is so important. I thought of all the years I spent (perhaps wasted) in anger, fear, and anxiety that hurt me much more than it hurt anyone else.

Be open to compassion. If not for someone else, at least for yourself.

When you are compassionate with yourself, you model for others how to treat you. When you are compassionate with others, you invite them to be compassionate with you.

You deserve it. You are worth it.

love

Love Loves Love

Love loves love.
Period.
End of story.
Love yourself.
Even the things you wish were different.
Love others.
Even when you disagree.
Allow there to be enough space for differences to reside.
We are where we are in this moment.
Love does not force.
Love respects.
Model the Love you want from others, to others.
Not because it’s a lesson you’re trying to teach, because it’s the person you ARE. Compassionate. Loving. Kind.
AND have excellent boundaries for yourself.
This is Self-Love.
Know when enough is enough before it’s too much.
Learn from experience.
Be clear about your wants and needs.
You’ll see who can respect your boundaries and who can’t.
And that gives you more information to make appropriate decisions for yourself.
To love and respect yourself and your own boundaries.
Let’s face it. If you don’t respect your own boundaries, how can you expect others to respect them?
Love loves love.
Period.
the subtle art of not giving a fuck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

The title of this book caught my attention recently while I was at the airport. Working with many people who have anxiety or feel stressed out I thought it could be an interesting read. I like things that make us question the status quo and may be a bit provocative. The subtitle drove home my decision to purchase it: “A counterintuitive approach to living a good life.” Even cooler!

I was curious about the author and what his credentials are so I looked on the back cover and discovered he was a well-followed blogger. Hmmm… Not your typical (potentially dry) self-help PhD? Not surprising with a title like this. My graduate studies had taught me to be leary about non-scientific based information, but I’m an out-of-the-box thinker, so I’m usually willing to let things speak for themself. As I read I realized Manson has no specific education or credential as a therapist or in the mental health field. What he does have is his own personal experiences, which he shares freely in the book (which is different than most PhD, self-help authors!). He’s likable and seemingly very open, which is a plus for me. Essentially what I found is a very direct and easy-to-understand and assimilate way to communicate mindfulness (without really talking about mindfulness!). Even cooler!

I have many clients who are not “readers” and I’m always on the lookout for books that may be interesting to the uninterested reader. This book fits the profile. I have recommended it to several people and they *loved* the title and were willing to give it a whirl upon my recommendation.

A few of the premises in the book that caught my attention:

  1. We can never really avoid being in pain and discomfort (he uses the word suffering), so choose what you want to be in discomfort about.
  2. Choose what you want to give a f*ck about rather than giving a f*ck about everything.
  3. Your emotions are there for a very good reason – to give you feedback, to get your attention. So PAY ATTENTION to them!
  4. Make sure you are aligning with your values and priorities. Are the people you surround yourself with people you strive to be like? Are the decisions you are making assisting you in being the best version of yourself?
  5. Failure is to be expected! Welcome it. Learn from it! Perfectionism can keep us from living in reality… I mean really, at what point is “perfection” achieved?! Or are you always telling yourself you’re STILL not good enough.
  6. It’s ok to say “No.” Again, choosing what you do and don’t want to participate in establishes appropriate boundaries.

I found it to be a very enjoyable, humorous, entertaining read, and am glad I read it.

Intrigued?! Give it a whirl for yourself!

 

domino

Domino Stacks in Relationships

Written by Rob Giltner, MAMFT

Have you noticed that you and your partner have arguments about the same thing over and over again? Or perhaps the subject matter in arguments gets changed to something in the past or unrelated to what caused the conflict in the first place? This may be a result of emotional dominos being stacked up within your relationship. 

Emotional dominos are under the surface conflicts that are unresolved.

Usually, these dominos are hidden and only surface during a conflict. Often dominos are related to events of inclusion, affection, and influence. For example, whenever your partner does or says something to you that makes you feel unloved, a small domino appears regardless if it was intentional or not. 

If we do not repair this domino, it grows into a larger one and likely breeds more dominos. These dominos then begin stacking up and leaning on each other, and small moments in your relationship can knock them over and cause conflict. 

One such small moment, for example, could be your partner not sitting next to you on the couch. This action knocks all those other dominos down and the event of not sitting on the couch turns into something more emotionally intense than originally warranted. 

The tricky part about dealing with dominos, besides them being hidden, is that we feel like we must solve the domino we are presented with now. In this case, it would be sitting next to each other on the couch.

Couples often make the mistake of trying to solve problems too quickly. Even if your partner just agrees to sit next to you on the couch forever, you are still left with the original domino of feeling unloved. In order to heal these past conflicts, your partner and you have to go through all of the dominos one by one to make sense of why they are there in the first place and then empathize with each one. 

A behavior of listening to understand rather than respond or solve is a great first step. Instead of responding defensively or by immediately problem-solving, we should ask our partners to “tell me more.” 

improve your marriage

How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It

marriageYes, you heard that correct! When I (Megan) lived in Austin, TX, I had the privilege to be mentored by author and relationship expert, Dr. Patricia Love. She encouraged me to think outside-the-box when working with couples which is what helps me be one of the “Three-Best Rated Marriage Counselors in Louisville.” You CAN improve any relationship without talking about it and that’s what I teach my clients and the other therapists at Louisville Mindfulness Center every day.

How you show up with others, invites them to show up that way with you. If you are acting as your “Best Adult Self” and setting appropriate boundaries and the other person you want a good (or, even decent) relationship with can’t meet you there, that gives you more information. With that more information, you can decide if being in that relationship works for you or at the very least how much time and energy you want to give to that relationship – especially if there is not a mutual exchange of energy…i.e. you’re doing all the work.

While I couldn’t find the video of Dr. Love on the Oprah show (yep, she’s done that!), I want you to see her YouTube page so you can watch her live!  And here are some other wonderful books Dr. Love has written as well…

love

marriage therapy

relationships

boundaries

Creating Healthy Boundaries

Written by Bridgette Allen, MAMFT

Healthy boundaries keep us safe, both physically and emotionally. They keep us clear about what’s “me” and what’s “not me.” They are rules we make for ourselves that determine just how much others can come into our “space.” And like societal rules, personal boundaries can be looser or more rigid, depending on what the situation requires.  The purpose of boundaries is to keep us feeling safe on the outside as well as the inside.

Healthy Boundaries are:

  • Flexible: we are able to be both close and distant, adaptable to the situation. We are able to let go of destructive relationships and connect with nurturing ones.

  • Safe: we are able to protect ourselves against exploitation from others. We can read cues that someone is selfish or abusive. Also, we are not offensive to others.

  • Connected: we are able to engage in balanced relationships with others and maintain them over time. As conflicts arise, we are able to work through them.

In order to develop healthy boundaries, we must know what we like and don’t, what feels good to us and what feels bad. We must know “who we are” and “who we are not.” Healthy boundaries are developed in childhood when a kid gets the message from caregivers that his/her thoughts and feelings matter. This happens when a parent models healthy boundaries by guiding and correcting a child in a firm, nurturing, and consistent manner. The parent doesn’t use the child to regulate his/her own difficult emotions by beating the child, for example, or by demanding emotional nurturance from the child. When this occurs, a child grows up unable to separate his/her thoughts and feelings from others’.  He/She takes undo responsibility for others’ thoughts and actions, blames others for his/her feelings, or needs to control and manipulate in order to feel safe.

In therapy, we “redraw” our boundaries. We reconnect with our feelings and strengthen the muscle that sets limits and keeps us safe.

“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”
― Brené Brown, Rising Strong

Humility

Written by Jennifer Komis, MAMFT, MDIV

Humility is the willingness to stay teachable regardless of how much we already know.

Have you ever spent time with someone who views her or his self as the best human in the room? Maybe it was a friend, partner, boss, or coworker. How did it feel? How’d the conversation go? Did you enjoy it? Want to talk more to this person or less?

It’s hard NOT to assume we don’t own the truth.

Our experiences shape us to believe and think certain things, sometimes passionately. It’s hard for us NOT to see our version of reality as the right (or only) version of reality. BUT. While it may feel threatening, there’s so much more freedom and opportunity in allowing others to “own truth” too. Think of it as trying on another’s experiences, imagining how their life may have led them to their thoughts, fears, biases, dreams. Think of it as trying on humility.

When we get stuck in the idea that we own the truth, we constrict around that.

People become “good” or “bad” as judged by our inner critic and we fight against them and their ideas from a place of self-protection. We are less apt to seek to understand them. Instead, we seek to protect our truth above all else because we believed the false rumor that doing that somehow protects us. We hunker down, refuse feedback, and struggle to imagine that safety, security, AND multiple truths can coexist.

Instead of trying to be the best human in the room, what if we tried to be the best version of ourselves in the room, in our families, careers, and relationships? What if that was less about proving something and more about listening? What if the deepest strength is really found in compassion, empathy, and humility? How might we experience ourselves and life differently if we trust that?

listening

The Art of Listening

Written by Jennifer Komis, MAMFT, MDIV

The first class I took in therapy school was called The Art of Listening. I thought I had it in the bag. I mean, come on, I’d been listening for AGES (as an eldest child and total feeler). WRONG. Here’s what I learned…

Listening is easy if:

1) You already agree with what’s being said

2) You aren’t emotionally involved in making a separate point or

3) You’ve slept 8 hours, accomplished all of your tasks, have had a great day, and are your very best self (insert sparkly smile here)

Otherwise (which is most of the time), listening is HARD. We want to interrupt and make our point (I do). We want to insert a platitude so we don’t have to sit with the other person’s pain (Shh, shh, everything happens for a reason), we want to interject some kind of suggestion (If you try a, b, and c, I think it would help…), or we want to judge and silence to get it over with (This IS NOT a big deal. Get over it.).

We live in a culture that prizes efficiency, speed, debate, ego, and winning. This is deeply ironic because therapy research seems to say that what we really, deeply want is to feel heard. Things like being right seem to matter far less when we truly slow down, let go of the perceived threat to our worldview, and just hear one another out.

Can you hear it? That’s the voice of someone else. Someone else whose fought her/his own battles trying to put words to them. Someone else who is seeking to protect her/himself in a world that feels overwhelming at times. A person who is hoping to feel heard, seen, and valued, despite their imperfections. Someone else like you.

blame

The Blame Game

Written by Bridgette Allen, MAMFT

Do you play the blame game?

Why are you giving all of your power away?

Finding fault on the outside is a way of relieving uncomfortable emotions you feel on the inside. Personal accountability is tough to swallow sometimes. If we’re accountable for any part in our relationships, including the one we have with ourselves, we are also responsible for making it better.

We may choose not to accept accountability because we have developed very little self awareness and are unable to observe our personal contributions to the challenge. It is also possible to be very self aware, while realizing being accountable will bring about discomfort, so we ignore and continue to project it onto someone or something else. Most of the time we work from somewhere in between these two perspectives.

An important thing to note is that being accountable does not mean you release responsibility of another for their part in the issue, rather you empower yourself by taking control of you.

Areas of personal accountability:

  • Choices
  • Happiness
  • Sexuality
  • Emotions
  • Learning
  • Healing
  • Behavior
  • Self-care
  • Desires/passions
  • Loving
  • Change
  • Emotions
  • Forgiving
  • Success/failure
  • Validation
  • Thoughts
  • Mental/physical illness
  • Motivation
  • Personal care
  • Relationships
  • Progress
  • Fitness/Health
  • Routines/Habits

This list is not inclusive of every area of personal accountability, but it gives us a good idea of the power we have over our own lives, if we take it. Another reason to stop playing this game, is that you will always lose, and especially in relationships. Blaming has the ability to help us escape our emotions, and can become a sort of addiction. So the next time you are tempted to blame, pause, then observe your physical sensations, thoughts and underlying emotions. Notice the discomfort you are experiencing. Soothe yourself and ask yourself how you might be playing a role in it.

couples playbook

The Couples Playbook

Written by Rob Giltner, MAMFT

The process of self-soothing is extremely important.

  • When an individual feels flooded (emotionally overwhelmed) she/he may begin to have over 90bpm and it makes it very difficult to listen to understand, offer empathy, and dialogue. This may then result in stonewalling, criticism, and defensiveness.
  • Antidote to flooding is self-soothing. Being aware that you are flooded and that your partner might be flooded is the first step to avoid causing damage in a relationship.
    • What triggers you and your partner to feel flooded?
    • What ways does your partner soothe?
    • What is something your partner does that soothes you?
  • Couples who soothe are extremely more likely to come back to the argument and discuss the problem in a rational and gentle way leading to a solution.
    • Steps to manage flooding:
      • Being mindful
      • Pause
      • Soothe
      • Ask for a Break (not avoidance)
      • Come back to the problem

The act of accepting bids.

  • Couples have small moments throughout the day that build up and can “make or break” a relationship.
  • Bids are bids for connection.
    • Ex. Come sit with me while I read.
    • Do you love me?
    • Is it cold in here?
    • What do you think of this outift?
    • Look at this meme.
    • That cooking class looks fun.
    • I am so tired.
    • Did you see that?
    • I am fine.
  • Couples need to accept influence to accept the bid.
    • Accepting, understanding, and allowing your partners perspective, feelings, and needs into your decision-making process as a couple.
    • Find the emotion in the bid and turn towards.
  • Managing failed bids.
  • Couples must repair after failed bids because small moments can create lasting scars. Ex. A partner might be feeling lately that her partner is annoyed or frustrated towards her. She offers a bid to connect to feel valued. If her partner is not aware of the bid it has failed and she may be left feeling rejected and not important and that feeling can grow.
    • The Script to repair after failed bids:
      • Understand your partners subject reality. (Both partners have their own subject reality)
      • Communicate your understanding, make meaning of it.
      • Admit some role.
      • Offer empathy.
    • Ask follow up questions:
      • How have I/we been expressing needs for loneliness?
      • How have I/we been expressing needs to be alone?
      • Is there a better way I/we can express needs?
      • Is there a conversation we need to have but have not?
  • Understand the triggers
    • Events related to influence.
    • Events related to acceptance.
    • Events related to affection.
  • Triggers that go unnoticed can grow into emotional wounds that can corrupt relationships.
  • Find the “seeds” (dreams within conflict) to heal wounds.