This is the time of the year to say goodbye to summer and hello to increasing responsibilities and the longer ‘to-do’ lists. Here are some tips on keeping the love alive while the pile up continues to grow.
- Use Technology to Your Advantage – we have technology buzzing all around us. Why not use it to your advantage? Sending a quick text, an email, a chat or a phone call can take just a few seconds but can send an important message – I am thinking about you and I love you. If you can’t seem to remember to do this try putting an alarm on your phone for random times during the day to remind you until it becomes a habit.
- Prioritize and Plan Ahead – When the ‘to-do’ list gets longer we often get lost in the have to, want to, and should do’s, but the clarity of which tasks are the highest priorities seem to get a little cloudy. It is important to prioritize what is important… your relationship. Plan ahead for a date night during the month or week and stick to it. Get the babysitter well in advance and don’t change it. Even if something comes up it sends a powerful message to yourself, your partner and others when you say no because your relationship with your significant other is more important. When things are planned ahead of time they usually come to fruition rather than just saying, “when we have time” because you likely will not have extra time.
- Keep Rituals – we should all have a few rituals in our relationship, a kiss before leaving, a couple of minutes after work talking, a glass of warm milk at night together, pillow talk before bed… whatever your rituals are, keep them going. Most of the rituals couples develop are not time consuming, but if you do not remember to do them they quickly get lost in the noise of busyness. Rituals tell your partner you are there, and there is stability in the relationship, something to count on.
- Do not let emotions slide – One of the first things I see slide when we are busy, is emotional connection. You don’t have time to sit down, let alone talk about your feelings, right? Wrong… this is the time you need emotional connection the most. When life is busy and chaotic it is essential to feel close to your partner. It gives you a sense of support and confidence that is unique and allows you to focus on whatever you have to do. When we feel emotionally connected we do not need to spend time and energy worrying about the woes of the relationship.
- Accomplish tasks together when possible (be creative) – Whenever you can check off a task from the list together and make it time for the two of you it can increase closeness. So, if you have to run errands do it together, make dinner and talk about your day at the same time, even working side by side on your computers can be fun and relationship enhancing if you make it that way.
- Be Flexible - We are often told to divide and conquer but sometimes just being flexible is better for the relationship.
“If only they’d see things the way I see them, and do things the way I do them, life would be so much easier!” Sound familiar? It is very common in relationships to spend most of your time and energy on trying to get your partner to “see things your way” or to prove that you’re right and they’re wrong-to attempt to change them in order to make your relationship better. How is this working for you? Probably not very well. The problem with this strategy is that it places blame on the other person, causing them to feel defensive. From then on, they spend all of their time and energy trying to fight back, rather than attempting to listen to and understand what you’re saying. Pretty soon, one of you gives up and walks away, leaving the problem hanging awkwardly out in the open.
Rather than continuing this pattern, try something a little different and unexpected the next time you and your partner have a conflict.
(Reposted from Sept. 2011)
As with the past 10 years, this upcoming September 11th marks the anniversary of the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center. Many of us can still vividly recall exactly what we were doing at the moment this occurred. For me, I was awakened at 5:45 am with a phone call from my mother telling me to turn on my TV immediately. I watched CNN and saw the second airplane hit the building on live television. I watched the towers crumble and our world as we knew it forever change. I was living alone in Los Angeles and that day, the whole city shut down out of fear that we would be the next target.
1. Understand the Problem
Is there a specific reason that she is being difficult? Most people have a reason and aren’t just difficult to be difficult. Your mother-in-law might be feeling less important. You just took her baby boy! You’re now the number one woman in his life, not her and she may not be quite used to that. It’s difficult for mothers to stand back sometimes and learn to be second.
2. Take a Different Perspective
Honestly think about what it is she might be feeling right now. Perspective is how we view the world, so what happens when you try to take someone else’s perspective? Put yourself in her shoes. Your understanding might become different.
- Try deep breathing exercises.
- Repeat a phrase to relax your self like ‘take it easy’ or ‘you’re ok’ to calm yourself down.
- Use imagery and go to your ‘happy or quiet place’
- Change the way you think.
- Be more rational – “It’s the end of the world” can change to “It’s frustrating but understandable. It’s not the end of the world and overreacting never really fixes anything.”
- Avoid phrases that start or end with never, always, or demand.
- Logic can defeat your anger.
- Not all anger is displaced.
- Don’t focus on the solution, focus on the process.
- Don’t act on your conclusions – they might be wrong. Clarify what’s going on by asking and using a conversation.
- Listen to what’s going on.
- Try not to fight back
- Humor can diffuse rage quickly.
Change the Environment
- Give yourself a break!
- Don’t avoid confrontation but don’t put yourself in frustrating situations either.
Use Appropriate Timing for Conversations
- Typically places like in front of the TV or when people are busy aren’t ideal conversation places.
- If you have a confrontation situation then try planning a better place to talk where you can both focus on yourself.
Learn Assertiveness Training
- Take a class on being more assertive rather than confrontational.
- See a counselor for assertiveness training.
A – Activating Situation or Event
What is happening? What happened before you got angry and what is happening now?
B – Belief System
What is the self-talk going on in your head at the moment? What are your expectations?
C – Consequence
How do you feel about the event based on your self-talk? What are the feelings you are currently experiencing? What happens to your body when you’re experiencing these feelings? Notice the surface feelings and vulnerable feelings underneath.
D – Dispute
Examine your beliefs and expectations – are some unrealistic and maybe a bit irrational? Do you have to get angry? Is there another way to look at what is happening?
E – Evidence
Notice your evidence to support thoughts and be truthful about it. Be honest with yourself.
In reality when you’re angry is it likely that you’ll really sit and analyze the situation or just react on impulse? Probably act on impulse. Other situations you might be able to sit down and analyze what is happening, but in a confrontational situation it’s a lot harder.
One important thing about anger and learning about anger management is when to take a break and really evaluate your situation. By taking a break and stepping away it will allow you to not only analyze what is happening by using this format but it might save you and someone else from saying something you might regret.
By using this format you can eventually make a decision based on principles or logic rather than acting on those intense emotions.
Have you seen the Huffington Post’s live streaming 12 hour a day network called HuffPost Live? It’s an interactive show based on casual conversations about current topics, news, and events – social media TV.
I was invited to participate via webcam in this interview sparked by the death of Helen Girly Brown, the force behind Cosmopolitan Magazine, and offer insight on the impact of Cosmo on young girls from a mother and therapist’s perspective. Click the link above to watch the online interview hosted by Josh Zepps.
Why do people brag? We brag because we can. And social media makes it a lot easier to boast about the amazing things happening in our lives to more people. The irony in this post is that I am bragging about being interviewed in the Wall Street Journal on the topic of…online bragging. Here’s why people brag, including me:
People brag for all sorts of reasons, she says: to appear worthy of attention or love or to try and cover up our deepest insecurities. To prove to ourselves that we’re OK, that people from our past who said we wouldn’t measure up were wrong. Or simply because we’re excited when good things happen to us. – Julie Hanks, LCSW