Gratitude for the Small Things Grows Your Relationship

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Do you give your loved one credit for when he or she “tries” to show their love or caring? Gratitude for these small steps can create a beautiful chain of more happiness and connection in your relationship.

Maybe it is not exactly what you had hoped for but it is a try or an effort toward what you do want. It is easy to get into a state of wanting it exactly the way you want it and standing firm that you will not be content unless it is that way. I am not saying you should give up on what you want or need, but that you should consider the “process” of getting where you want to be in your relationship.

Some Things to Consider as Loved Ones “Try” to Show Their Love and Caring:

  1. It does not have to be perfect. When you expect perfection and your sweetheart comes up short, it is a set up for dis-contentment or unhappiness. Maybe you want or hope for more. And that can come. But in the moment you can acknowledge the try or effort toward what you wanted or hoped for. Maybe you want a sharing of chores in the household. Your husband chooses to help with dishes one night. It may not be all you want, but it is a start. 
  2. Search for the parts in the try that feel good to you. Be mindful of what is being done or offered to you. It is Valentines Day and your husband brings you chocolates home. You like chocolate but you had hoped for something new and different. You can still enjoy the chocolates, savoring each piece knowing your spouse was thinking of what he knew you liked and was trying to please you. 
  3. Let your loved one know you appreciate what they did do. This will bring more of this your way and beyond. You have been telling your wife you would like to carve out more couple time away from the kids. You are thinking in your head a weekend away. She sets up a 2 hour date night. You choose to thank her for carving out this special one on one time to be just with you. 
  4. Let the good stuff from the try or effort sink in and stay with you. Let it nourish your inner self and know you are cared for. Let it be a part of you, not letting it slip away. Keep it as a touchstone to remember and build on.

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Moving Toward More of What you Do Want:

  •  Do express your needs and desires. Do so in a calm, respectful manner, letting your partner know how this specific action will help to make you a better couple and increase happiness for both of you. Avoid demanding or insisting.
  • When these things occur let your happiness show, telling your partner how this makes you feel and express your thankfulness. This does matter. Your visible reaction and encouragement helps your loved one to know it is worth it.Plus it makes them feel very good as well. And it increases your chances of more connection.
  • Do illicit and ask your loved one what it is that THEY need or are hoping for in your relationship. Try to work toward these desires if it is a healthy request that could strengthen your relationship.

Let the small acts of love take root in your heart for they can grow and fill your soul with happiness and joy.

Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

 

 

Less Serious, More Playful

Less Serious, More Playful

Feel like your life is one endless stream of “to do” tasks? All work, no play. You can go through your life seriously “serious” all the time. I have to admit I tend to run this way, full of purpose … Continue reading

One Strategy to Recapture Your Calm & Focus on What You Do Want

One Strategy to Recapture Your Calm & Focus on What You Do Want

We all have been there. Too much to do. Too much to manage. Too much overwhelm. Just simply too much! There are lots of things we can to do work on these issues. Sometimes due to circumstances we have to … Continue reading

“Lean Into” More Happy Feelings

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After you have done some processing of your upset feelings, consider “leaning into” your more happy feelings.  I am not talking about disconnecting or not acknowledging your upset feelings. Your emotions are your guides to telling you that you need to attend to and work through something. But after you have processed your feelings, it can be healthy to begin to choose to not let the issues of life steal your joy, to begin the process of “leaning into” your happiness.

What does it mean to be “lean into” your happiness?

  1. It means to move past what is “not going right” in your life.
  2. It means to face each day with an expectation that it is going to be a good one.
  3. It means to focus on the good that is in your life.
  4. It means to live in “the present moments of your life”, finding the happy that is right there in front of you.
  5. It means to fly above the muck below, letting in your happy feelings.

Again this is not to say you should ignore your upset feelings. It is more about moving through to what is good in your life. It is good for you to allow your sad or angry or upset feelings to come up to explore and decide what you want to do with them. You can decide.  You get to choose what you do next. “What do I want to do with these feelings? Do I need to take some kind of action or no? What will make me feel better?” And then going with it.

At some point it is up to you to decide what you can do to feel better and to “lean into” the more happy feelings that reside within you.

It is a bit of a two-sided coin, this balancing of acknowledging your feelings and processing them AND the moving to a more happy place that is inside of you.  It is really about being respectful of all your feelings and caring about yourself enough to move to place where there is more happy, peaceful feelings. It is possible to have both going on within your self. You can be in a grieving process or have been hurt badly and still allow for joy to express it self. You can take a break from your upset and let more happy feelings come into your life.  And at some point you can decide to let go completely of the upset. So “LEAN INTO” more happy today!

Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

How to Create What YOU Really Want for the Holidays Ahead

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I cannot believe I am writing a blog post on this, but it has already began – the thinking, the obsessing, the worrying, the planning, the stressing about the holidays ahead. The four upcoming holidays can feel like they all merge together into one massive overwhelm. It can be hard to separate them out. But of course it does not have to be that way. I want to share some ideas on creating holidays that are truly what YOU want. And now is the time to contemplate all of this – at the beginning of this time frame.

It is so easy to get caught up in it all and end up doing things you may not really want to do. Or to sometimes not really plan and end up not doing what you really want to do with your holiday time. So here are some ideas to consider.

 Questions you might ask yourself about the upcoming holidays that may help you be the true “creator” of  YOUR  holidays:

  1. What would my perfect holiday times look like? What would I be doing? Who would I be with? Ex. – For some it may mean enjoying time with loved ones. or slowing down to enjoy a special what ever it might be.
  2. What does each holiday really mean to me? Or what do I want it to mean to me? Ex. –  One family may say it is a time to reflect on what we are really thankful for?
  3. Does what I do reflect what I want my holiday to look like and be about? Ex. – Yes and No. Maybe yes we spend time together. But no there is too much competition with iPhones, video games, etc.
  4. What are my most favorite memories of past holidays? What was I doing? Ex.- One child may say when we had the snow ball fight in the front yard. Dad may say, when we went out looking at holiday lights and had hot chocolate after. Mom may say when we all made a holiday meal together.
  5. What are my most un-favorite memories and what can I do to avoid these from happening again? Ex. – This might be for some – the stressing and rushing and overwhelm.
  6. Do my holidays all merge together without a real feel of truly enjoying each one for what they are? A very good question, are we really mindfully enjoying each holiday?

Develop a Flexible Plan That Fits You and Your Family

  • Meet together as a couple or a family to talk about some of the above questions.
  • Decide together (or for yourself if you are single) what your main goals for the holiday are. Is it to relax? To be with family? Enjoy special holiday activities? Celebrate a particular religious belief? A mix?
  • As a couple or family you can put together a flexible plan of the kinds of things you want to do and begin gradually to work toward this.  Incorporating everyone’s ideas is very important if you are in a family or as a couple.
  • Keep in mind that too much will feel overwhelming for most people and that thoughtful choices are a much better route to go. It is not so much about how much you can pack in, but incorporating what you most want to do and really taking time to ENJOY it.
  • Try to stay open and flexible as plans shift and change as they will at times. Knowing you can be happy even if things do not happen exactly as planned.

My hope for you and your family is that you create what you most want and desire. Happy Holidays to you and your family!  holly-leaf-small


Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

Being Open to the Unexpected Good that is All Around You

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I think when you leave a space within yourself to be open to “unexpected blessings’ or the variety of ways good can come into your life, you increase your chances of not missing out on the “good stuff”.  It is so easy to get down and discouraged. But when you keep a place open for unexpected good to come in, you have a much better chance of new and varied ways for happiness to evolve.  I know personally that when I take time to train my mind in the direction of the good stuff, I get more of it. And secondly, when I let go of the need for something to happen in a specific way, I open myself to a much wider array of positive possibilities.  This is true, even if it is not exactly the way I had “planned” or first desired it to happen.  This opens up space for more happiness.

 Here are a few concrete strategies to help with keeping open to the unexpected “good stuff” that we all so want in our lives.

1.  Start your day with “expecting the good” and that it may come in unexpected packages. You may be thinking “How do I do that?” That may be different for different folks. Some possible ways may include:

  • Before you get out of bed, take a few moments to tell yourself that you are expecting “good things” to happen today and that they may come in unexpected ways or forms and the you are open to them. You can even offer thanks for the “unexpected blessings” to come.
  • Say a few affirmations to yourself as you prepare for your day. This may be as you put your make up on or put your clothes on for the day. Or it may be as you eat your breakfast or do your daily morning walk, etc. This is just simply internal self talk of the good things you are expecting with acknowledgment that they may come in a form that you expect or envision.
  • Write down a few thoughts about the good you expect for the day ahead and add to that list that you know they may come in surprising and unexpected ways and that you are open to that. Add in a word of thankfulness for all the good and expected blessings that will appear for you in your day ahead.

2.  Be on the “lookout” for the good and unexpected to happen in your day as it unfolds. When you LOOK, you FIND. It is your focus that gets you where you want to go.

3.  Be thankful for the good and the “unexpected” that does occur in your day. Take a moment to be thankful in “real-time” as these positive things happen in your life.  Let this feeling “sink in” and bask in the glow of this goodness.  You can also end your day recounting all the good that has happened that day, which would include unexpected positive things that occurred  in a journal or just mentally thinking about them at the end of the day.

So be on the look out for all the GOOD, which includes the UNEXPECTED FORMS OF GOOD that will come into your life each and ever day. You will be glad you did!

Best Wishes,

Tanna

 

Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

 

 

 

ACT Limit Setting for Children

I love the ACT Therapeutic Limit Setting method for children. This is a wonderfully positive and helps children to begin to develop self-discipline. This is what we ultimately want for our children – to be able to regulate their emotions and behavior; in addition, being able to set healthy boundaries for themselves and others. That is what I feel this kind of limit setting model can do for those who use it consistently.  I had an opportunity to present to a group of therapists last week and part of this training was presenting this model to them.  It is simple, but effective.  I find it to be respectful of children and gives parents the needed skills to set healthy limits with their children.

Here are the Basics for the ACT Therapeutic Limit Setting, which were developed by Dr. Garry Landreth, University of North Texas and author of  “The Art of the Relationship” and co-founder of Child Parent Relationship Therapy.

ACT Limit Setting 

  1. Acknowledge the Feeling – Example: “I know you want to eat some cookies right now. You are hungry and you like cookies.
  2. Communicate the Limit – Example: “It is almost time for supper. Cookies are for after supper.
  3. Target the Alternative – Example: “You can have some carrot sticks or you can help me set the napkins on the dinner table.”

This is simple, but effective. Part of making it effective is REALLY listening to your child and reflecting what they are feeling. And then respectfully letting them know the boundary, with a follow-up of “what they can do”. This last part is so important in giving the child something to move toward that is acceptable.

You might ask what do you do when the child will not comply? You can first repeat what you initially said. Some choose to repeat this a couple of times, with a bit a space in between the information giving. If there is still no movement toward what is needed, you can then make the choice for the child or follow-up with a natural consequence. With the child in the above example you might simply put the cookies up high out of reach or ask that they go to another part of the home as they are getting into things that are off-limits. Of course standing by the limit you have set is important as well. This all said in a calm, matter of fact voice is best.

For more information about this method you can go to Dr. Garry Landreth’s book “The Art of the Relationship”.

I highly recommend the following video on the ACT Model of Therapeutic Limit Setting. This video is done by Dr. Theresa Kellam. She is one of the co-authors of the Treatment Manual for Child Parent Relationship Therapy. This video is of her own personal experience with her own child when she first learned this method of limit setting and what happened afterwards with her child as she grew older.

www.youtube.com     Go to: ACT Limit Setting by drkellam.

I encourage you to try this model of limit setting. I think it is a healthy interaction in helping children to learn to self regulate and in learning how to accept and set boundaries themselves when needed.

 

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Here I am presenting a workshop on Family Play Therapy, in which I cover ACT Therapeutic Limit Setting.

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Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact a local mental health professional . Strom Individual & Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

 

How to Set Healthy, Respectful Boundaries

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Do you need to set some boundaries with someone and not sure how to do it without being offensive? I wanted to share some thoughts on boundary setting and how to do it in a healthy way. For many folks boundary setting is not easy. We all want to be loved or we want to protect our relationships. Setting a boundary can feel scary as we may worry about any upset that it may cause. Setting a boundary or limit or saying no can come off abrupt and sharp or it can be done in a way that is respectful and non offensive.

Boundary setting is something that can apply to lots of different kinds of situations. This is intended to share information in regard to the general idea of healthy, respectful boundaries for all relationships. And among that sometimes it may not be a relationship but a situation that is occurring.

If you care about yourself and want to do good self-care, boundary setting will be a necessary interaction that you will need to engage in from time to time or quite frequently depending on those you are in contact with. Here are my thoughts on setting healthy, respectful boundaries.

Healthy Boundary Setting

  1. Let’s first look at what Boundary Setting is. This is about self-protection and good self-care for your self OR if you are a parent setting a boundary with a child or teen, it may be about protecting them and caring about their well-being. Respecting and standing up for yourself is a part of boundary setting. Healthy boundary setting is also about being respectful of those you are setting a boundary with.
  2. What is the difference between Offensive Boundary Setting and Healthy Boundary Setting? Offensive boundary setting may come off as harsh or uncaring. Healthy boundary setting will be aiming toward a respectful dialog and a healthy relationship.  Examples – Talking to your spouse: “I know you are upset with me, but I need you to tell me in a softer voice and without yelling” OR  Talking to your teen: “I know you like talking to your friends late at night, but our family rule is no cell phones after 10:00 pm.”
  3. Healthy boundary setting involves you deciding what is best for you or as a parent of children at home for your children.  It is about being in touch with your feelings and honoring what feels right to you. If someone is doing something that feels hurtful or abusive, then setting limits of how you are willing to interact is important. You cannot control another person, but you can choose to step away or disengage from someone who is being hurtful or disrespectful in an adult relationship.
  4.  Arrange a time to talk with the person you need to have a conversation with that is a mutually good time. Or it may be that you need to have this conversation as the need arises in a more natural consequential way. 
  5. Take some deep breaths and center yourself before you embark on a conversation about boundaries.
  6. When having a boundary setting conversation, start with letting the person know you desire a good relationship (if this is part of the issue) or that you need to let the person know your feelings on something. 
  7. You can acknowledge the other person’s needs or feelings first before begin to express your own.
  8. Use respectful language about your feelings and what you can and cannot do, keeping your voice calm and using a low tone.  You can ask for what you need. The important thing is that you express your feelings and needs. The person you are engaged with may or may not be willing to accommodate you. If not then you will need to decide what you need to do. This is not in retaliation, but in the stance of good self-care and respect for yourself.
  9. Stand your ground and keep with what you feel is best for you. Do reiterate if your boundaries are pushed again or if your initial request was ignored. But at the same time don’t push it in someone’s face if they are cooperating with you.
  10. Feel good about your self growth of being able to stand up for your self.

Boundary setting will involve you having a healthy self-esteem, knowing that you matter and how others treat you matters. It also involves having courage to have a potentially hard conversation with another. I  recently read one of Rick Hanson’s articles in which he talked of “speaking from the heart”. That is really what we are talking about here – speaking from your heart and letting the real you express what is needed to be said to help you feel better.

Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact a local mental health professional. Strom Individual & Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action  you take in regard to this article.

 

Letting Go and Creating What You Do Want

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One of the first steps to creating what you want is to “let go” of what no longer serves you. This opens the door to the possibility of creating “what you do want”.

I have always hated the term “letting go”. Have you ever had someone say “You just need to let it go.” I have and my first internal response is, “No, it’s not fair and I am not letting it go.” This letting go thing is not always easy and I think one of the  lessons I have learned from my own personal experiences and many of my clients is that is a journey or a process.

There are little, medium and big letting go of things that occur. Small things, like someone was rude to you is different of course than a loved one doing something very hurtful. The journey process mentioned below is more about the significant or larger things that occur that we feel stuck in.

Let’s take a look at this journey of letting go and what we might do to help navigate this process. Then put our focus on what “we do want” as this is what will get us to what will make us happy.

  1. Recognize that letting go is a process and it is ok for it to take some time. This will be different for different folks.
  2. Honor your real feelings of upset. Explore them and acknowledge them.
  3. Talk with someone who understands your need to process the genuine feelings you have and who can listen in a non judgemental way, without giving lots of advise. This may be your spouse or partner or another family member. Or it may be a good friend or even a therapist.
  4. To keep these upset feeling from overwhelming you, consider setting a certain amount of time that you will think about these feelings. And then do and experience other feelings outside of this time. Let the good come into your live during these times.
  5. Decide on what you want to do with your feelings. For example you can tell the person who hurt you what you are feeling. You can decide what you want to do from that point out that will make you feel better.
  6. When the time is right decide it better serves you to let go of the upset and move to a place that makes you feel more happy, with less worry. You can do this. And it will lead you down the ultimate path of being at peace.

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At this point, you are ready to create “what you do want”. Now that this upset energy has been moved out you have space for the good stuff. And isn’t this where most of us want to end up. Being in a place that brings us joy and happiness. Letting all that is good into our life. Here are some of my thoughts on creating what you do want.

  • Spend some time really thinking about what you do want. What do you want more of in your life? Who do you want to spend more of your time with? What do you want to do that is new? What makes you really feel happy and passionate?
  • Begin to boldly take some first steps in what you do want. It is time to give birth to your new you or your new life you want and desire. It is not always easy to take these first steps, but after you get going you will find a momentum that occurs.
  • Enjoy and absorb all the good feelings that are coming from taking the first steps toward what you do want now. This can nourish and feed your soul that is recovering from the hard things you needed to let go of. It feels so very good to focus on the good.
  • You will find the more you focus on what you want, the more it will evolve in your life.
  • Remember it does not have to be perfect. Enjoy all that leads you to where you want to go!

It is all about allowing a space for the good to come in and then creating the life you desire!