Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holidays… Ugh!!

How do we cope with our strong feelings when we are dealing with someone who is unaware of how their behavior affects others?

Often times we are forced to deal with people… especially in family situations and surrounding holidays events… who are unaware of how their actions appear to others. It is common for us to believe that our intentions are visible, when in fact it is only our actions that can be seen and felt by those around us.

If others are feeling overwhelmed and their actions impact us, what can we do to practice self care? We use our tools… deep breathing… taking a walk… calling a friend… journaling… prayer… letting go. If necessary we give ourselves permission to leave the situation and take a time out until we feel more balanced. We cannot be emotionally present for others if we are not practicing self care. If practical, we can return once we are centered to discuss the situation in an attempt to resolve issues.

Part of self care is effectively managing expectations. If we have a history of unresolved issues involving family, we must learn to expect whatever family dynamics exist to continue. We can choose not to participate in unhealthy situations. We expect many change back messages from those who are uncomfortable with our growth. We can understand their discomfort… empathize… and still maintain our healthy boundaries.

The holidays can be an especially trying time as we interact with our family of origin. Old issues that lie beneath the surface may be triggered by interactions with siblings, parents or extended family. We owe it to ourselves to use our tools, practice self care and manage expectations. In this way we have the ability to spend our time with our families while still maintaining healthy boundaries and working on more positive interactions.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Support - Balcony People

When our relationships hit a rough spot how do we cope? What do we do to garner support?

We reach out to those who have gone before us... counselors... friends... folks we meet in group or at meetings. We read books and articles written by those with wisdom and experience. We search our soul for realization of our part.

Relationships are like a dance... we must see our steps clearly. We must look with eyes unclouded by poor judgement and unresolved issues to see truth. It isn't easy to see our part... especially if we are hurt, sad or angry... but if we are to come through the difficult times back to a state of joy we must accept that we too have contributed to the problems we face... that our partner is not the only one to blame.

As we point our finger at our partner we realize that three fingers point right back at us. We too share in the issues... have perpetrated the hurts... have added to the pain. If we are to clear the air and begin anew we must own our part of the problem.

As we go through the toughest part of the process we know that there is light at the end of the tunnel... and it isn't an oncoming train.

Many have survived the road we are walking. They are all here with hands outstretched... reaching for us... cheering us on as we do the next right thing... as we walk the talk.

Yes, it's humbling... and jumbling too. We feel confused... angry... sad... hurt... devastated... overhwelmed... depressed... and much more. But there are so many watching us take one step at a time... praying for us... pleading with us not to give up.

They are all here along the side of the path... cheering... shouting our name in joy... waiting for us to come far enough along that we too can join on the sidelines and begin to cheer for the next one to walk this long and winding road.

They are shouting... Can you hear us? Can you see us?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Taking Poison - Resentment & Bitterness

How do we cope with angry feelings in our partnership? What can we do to keep those angry feelings from becoming resentment or bitterness?

After reading a thoughtfully written quote it occurred that resentment and bitterness are one of the most important topics in relationships. The quote basically said, "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

What a concept... we want to be compassionate in our relationships. We want to be loving and filled with warmth. But what happens when our trust is violated in some way and we feel the sting of betrayal. How do we cope with our feelings without becoming bitter and resentful?

One of our most basic tools is counseling. We must choose to avail ourselves of assistance when we face a situation that we cannot handle with the tools we currently possess. We may need a safe place to express our anger... to work through our feelings... so that we don't poison our relationship. If our partner has betrayed us in some way we have a choice to make. Is this betrayal a deal breaker? Or do we and our partner want to salvage the relationship?

Contrary to what others in our lives may believe there is no right answer for this question. Each partnership is unique. What works for one may not work for another. Partners must decide how much of a commitment they have made to the relationship and what they are willing to do to work through the issues that present themselves. For some, betrayal of any kind is more than they are willing to forgive. For others there is compassion and forgiveness. Neither are right... just different.

When we arrive at a decision with our partner and the help of a counselor, giving our best efforts to the situation is imperative. Anger is an appropriate emotion following betrayal. It requires a safe environment in which to be expressed. Once the anger has been fully explored and the underlying issues revealed healing can begin.

Avoiding resentment and bitterness may take a great deal of effort, but in the long run it is worth the work... our relationship and our health depend upon it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

HELP - My Expectations Are Killing Me!!

How do we manage our expectations in a healthy way? Can our expectations cause us problems in our relationship?

Expectations can be a double edged sword. At times we gain power and insight from the expectations we have of ourselves. But what about the expectations we have of our partner? How do they affect our relationship?

If we expect our partner to fulfill our expectations we may be placing undue pressure on both our partner and our relationship. We hold the responsibility to fulfill our own expectations. When we give that power away, we lose the ability to practice self care. We give control of ourselves and our happiness over to another. When we do that we may be setting ourselves up for disappointment.

As much as our partner may wish to please us and may make every effort to act in our best interest, there will be times when their desires and ours will not overlap. If we have placed our expectations in their hands we will surely be disappointed and possibly hurt. If we have, instead, taken responsibility for our own expectations we will be assured that we remain in balance regardless of what our partner is or is not doing at the moment.

In a healthy relationships partners make every effort to be compassionate, respectful and considerate of one another. We do not feel the need to meet each others expectations as we know that we are responsible for meeting our own. In this way we assure that we remain balanced, emotionally available and connected in our lives and in our relationships.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Moving Beyond Betrayal

How do we move past the pain and loss of betrayal? Can we salvage our relationship or is betrayal the kiss of death?

Not all betrayal involves emotional or physical affairs. Some betrayal involves more subtle violations that can occur slowly and painfully over many years. Drug and alcohol abuse can fall into this category, as can gambling or any other addiction.

The first step in determining whether we can move beyond betrayal is to determine why our partner strayed from their promises in the first place. This may be an area requiring the assistance of a counselor. We may be unable to figure out what was lacking either in our partner or in our relationship without help. We must keep in mind that some betrayal occurs because of a issue within our partner... and some occurs because of an issue within the relationship. To avoid a repeat of the problem, discerning the underlying cause is paramount.

Once we have clarified why the betrayal happened we will be able to determine if a repair of the relationship is possible or desirable. At this point we have the information we need to make an informed decision. We must decide if the betrayal is a deal breaker... or just an issue needing work than can be healed by time and effort.

Some relationships rebound from betrayal with increased intimacy and trust... others dissolve. It is our decision based upon the information we have gathered that will determine which outcome is best for our particular situation. All relationships are unique. A counselor can assist in clarifying the issues present and in facilitating communication, but only the partners involved can decide what is best for their situation.

Reaching out for help when relationships falter can save partners from a future of pain or bring one of joy.