While in grad school, I had the opportunity to study the experience young adults are having being single in today’s world. I had particular interest in the topic given that I myself am single and work with single people regularly in my therapy practice. After a year of study and research, I was asked to share what I learned at a regional mental health conference.
Early on in my presentation, a man in the audience (probably mid 50’s) raised his hand and asked, ”so why aren’t you married?” Thinking it was a joke, I chuckled and quipped back with something to the effect of, “That’s a great question, and I’d love to know the answer when you figure it out!” Everyone in the room laughed except for this gentleman. After clearly not answering his question, he fired back more intently: “No really, what’s wrong with all of these single people today? What’s keeping you guys from getting married?” By the looks on the faces of the audience members (a mix of single and married individuals), it was safe to say that the majority of us were taken aback by the question. Realizing that he wasn’t trying to be funny, I did my best to address his question as professionally as possible without becoming emotionally reactive. However, inside I was thinking, “how dare he ask me to defend/expose one of my greatest insecurities in front of this audience?” Another part was able to look past the abrasiveness of the delivery and focus on the underlying issue at hand. Which is, because relationships (or the lack thereof) are so personal, sometimes it’s hard for us to know how to talk about them.
Ironically, the core message of my presentation focused on understanding the experience, pressures, and judgement young single adults face in today’s society. I genuinely believe that my new friend had no malicious intent. Rather, he used poor tact when asking an honest question.
So, in hopes that we can promote more safety/support and less judgement in our conversations, here are 10 suggestions of “things no to” and “things to” say to your single friends:
10 Things NOT To Say To A Single Person
1. You are such a catch! I’m surprised you aren’t married yet.
2. What about ______? They’re single too!
3. I wish I was single again. Life was so much easier.
4. Maybe you’re just being too picky.
5. Don’t worry, there are always more fish in the sea.
6. Maybe you’re just not putting yourself out there enough.
7. You need to hurry and get married or you won’t be able to have kids.
8. Look aren’t everything-they will change after you’re married.
9. Your time will come. I just know it.
10. You’re probably having too much fun being single, huh?
10 Things TO Say To A Single Person
1. You are such a catch.
2. Let me know if you like being set up. I know some really good people.
3. Do you want to talk about dating? Or would you rather not?
4. I think you’re great. You deserve to find someone you think is great too.
5. You really seemed to like _______. I’m sorry that things didn’t work out.
6. I’ve noticed that you’ve been doing _________. How is that going?
8. I would really love for you to find someone you’re compatible with.
9. What do you have coming up that you’re looking forward to?
10. I’m headed to ________. Would you like to join me?
According to John Gottman, in every interaction in our significant relationships, there is an opportunity to attune or turn away. We have many experiences where we notice our partner, and we make a choice: “Do I ATTUNE myself to what is going on,” or, “do I turn away?” Pay attention to what happens when you turn away. What are your thoughts? What happens to the other person? What does your body feel like? What do you choose instead?
A-T-T-U-N-E is an acronym for just how to turn toward our partners in a supportive and empathetic way. Our job with each other is to create emotional safety, and it is through small moments, like attuning, that create stability and ongoing romance. When we feel acknowledged, we feel secure and safe.
T- Turn Toward
Here are some fun ways to practice attuning opportunities:
Go for a walk with a spouse or child.
Plan a picnic.
Cook dinner together.
Call each other during the workday.
Volunteer in the community.
Plan an outing together: hike, bike, or drive.
Visit the beach.
Go dancing together.
Plan to attend brunch.
Get away to a secret location.
Whatever you decide, remember the importance of attuned engagement and the strengthening power it has.
For extra support or help making repairs in your relationship, make an appointment with Wasatch Family Therapy at 801.944.4555.
So your marital relationship with your spouse has ended, and you’re probably reeling from the aftermath, wondering how you’re supposed to pick yourself up and move forward. It is normal to feel confused, lost, alone, and wounded. The good news is you do not have to feel this way forever. There are some things that you can start doing right now to work towards healing, and finding a new, positive path for yourself. Here are 4 tips that will help you survive your divorce and get to a better place:
Surround Yourself With Good Support
Going through a divorce can be one of the loneliest feelings in the world, because you’re losing one of your primary connections. In order to take the edge off of the loneliness, it’s important to engage in and create a positive support system. This can include friends, family, neighbors, church leaders, and a therapist. You don’t want to rely on just one person to talk to, because you want to get different types of perspectives and support, and you don’t want to burn anyone out. It may be difficult to be around people at this time, but forcing yourself to spend some time with trusted others can really help ease the pain.
Take Care of You
If you’re going through a divorce, you probably feel really low on motivation and energy. The only thing that may sound good to you is lying in bed all day, but this is only going to enhance feelings of depression and loneliness. Instead, it’s going to be very important for you to do a lot of self-care. Make sure you practice good hygiene, and take a shower every day. Try your best to eat good food, and get in some exercise. Along with those things, it can be helpful to do some fun things for yourself. Take a trip with a friend, go for a fun night out, or try out a new hobby. It’ll be difficult, but the more you can take care of yourself, the quicker your adjustment will be.
Create a Game Plan
No one plans on getting divorced, so chances are you and your partner had mapped out plans for your future that are now going to have to change. It’s normal to feel lost and in limbo after a divorce, so it is important that you come up with a new plan for your future. Spend some time thinking about what you would like your new normal to look like, what your goals are for your future, and what you’re going to have to do to get there. Once you have some plans and goals in place, you will have a better sense of direction and control over your life.
This can be a tough one to navigate. It is normal and necessary for you to grieve the loss of your marriage. Of course you’re going to have a mixture of emotions, and it’s going to be tough to make it through each day for a while. However, while it’s important for you to allow time to feel and talk about these emotions, it’s also important that you take positive action, and don’t allow your feelings to consume you. If all you ever do is focus on the negative aspects of your divorce, and every time you talk to someone in your support system you are venting about the same things over and over again, you’re never going to feel any better. All that emotion is just going to sit and fester instead of heal. So, when you find yourself obsessing and overwhelmed, engage in that self-care we talked about, get out of your environment into somewhere that helps you gain new perspective, or get busy working on some of those goals we mentioned. There are times and places to work on your grieving process, but that does not have to be every minute of every day.
Divorce is one of the most difficult and painful things a person can experience, and it is expected that you’re going to be down for a time. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you practice these important buffers, you will soon find yourself on the way back to happiness and peace.
Can you feel it? Slowly but surely spring is coming. The days are longer, the flowers are starting to peek out from the ground, and it is warming up. I always take spring as a time of assessment about myself and where I want the year to go. The majority of people make “new years resolutions.” Usually these include goals about eating better, exercising, and getting out to meet new people and have fun. I don’t know about you, but in January when it is cold and snowy all I want to do is stay inside, and make and eat homemade bread and cookies. Suffice it to say, my new years goals take a backseat very quickly. However, in the spring I am much more motivated to take inventory of where I am and what I can do for the rest of the year to feel good and make my relationships better.
It is common in spring to do “spring cleaning.” We open the doors and air out our homes. We clean out our flowerbeds to make room for plants. Let’s
do the same emotionally. Look at and evaluate how you are doing personally and with your relationships. After your evaluation you can make some commitments to yourself. Doesn’t commitment sound a little more decisive than a goal? For some reason when I say I have committed to someone or something I have a strong desire to follow through. Goals, it seems, can be easily broken.
Here are some of the commitments I have made to myself this spring.
1) In an effort to exercise more I have signed up to run the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon in September. My hope is to match or beat my time from my last half marathon. This motivates me throughout the spring and summer to exercise and prepare well for the race.
2)In an effort to connect more with my husband we have committed to going on two dates a month.
3)I will do one thing just for myself daily. I have three young children and most of my time goes to taking care of them. In an effort to take care of myself I will do something just for myself. This may include reading, working on a project, doing my nails, journaling, or simply sitting quietly and meditating.
Although these may not seem like monumental commitments, I think they will keep me focused and help me feel better throughout the rest of the year. I challenge you to do the same! Look at yourself and your relationships and see what needs some sprucing up. Come up with one to three commitments to make your year great.
Sharing diversity with children can have a woven like presence in the basic fabric of your life if you allow it. It is not a particular or singular act. I have found that there is somewhat of an approach or framework to how families can successfully embrace diversity and cultural competence as a family. These are ideas I share with clients as well as use with my own children and family.
Exposure: As a family embrace the diverse world around you. Spend time in various environments that host various ethnicities. Enjoy and participate in various events throughout the community and celebrate exploring these varying cultures as a family. Select and enjoy books, music and shows in your home that introduces various ethnic backgrounds and their customs.
Inclusion: Embracing others ethnic backgrounds goes well beyond talking about ethnicity and cultural differences. Go out of our way to spend time in places and spaces that welcome diversity and display inclusiveness and cohesion amongst varying cultures. Build friendships organically with all types of families from various backgrounds.
Modeling: By way of language, dialogue and behaviors. Children do as we do not as we say. Walk the walk of inclusion, acceptance and welcome open dialogue about ethnicity and diversity related topics in your home. Create an open fluid dialogue about current events, differences in lifestyles, ethnicity and customs within your home and family.
As our society evolves into a very polarized place remember that you have the power to create and set the tone for the environment in your home. Breathe love, acceptance and tolerance into your world and the world of your children.
Want To Make 2017 Totally Rock? Toss out those awful resolutions. Set Solid Goals Instead!
I find it absolutely crazy each year that we set resolutions. We do so with vigor and zest believing that this will actually result in success. We promise to do better than last year. We swear that we’ll lose weight. Be nicer to our co-worker. Stop being lazy or procrastinate. When we find that our New Year’s resolve failed miserably, we can feel like a failure.
Seeking Help! What Works in Setting Goals?
Research shows that many people who set New Year’s resolutions have bailed on them by February 1st. Many more waffle by March 1st. Wow! Terrible success rate. What actually works? I provide these 5 simple and very doable ways of making 2017 rock for you.
#1) Set Reachable Goals! Many people set Mount Everest type goals that are absolutely not going to happen. These goals include losing 30 pounds by March 1st, or getting a 30% raise before the end of the year. This just doesn’t work. I would suggest that rather than reaching for Mount Everest why not stretch for the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains? Once you’ve reached your doable goals at lower elevations, then you can set more challenging goals to build on. Something akin to reaching Mount Olympus east of Salt Lake City. The critical key is to make your goals doable. It actually makes a ton of sense and shockingly it works!
#2) Make Your New Year’s Goals Exciting! I find it shocking that we set goals that are boring. Mundane. Borderline dumb. And then wonder why we don’t want to do them. Surprise! Goals such as exercising. Becoming healthier. Or losing weight are laudable…yet pretty dang boring! Why not add some zest to your goals. For example, if you find going to the gym boring, don’t be surprised if you sabotage your goal right away. Yet if you like to hike and set a goal to hit the backcountry trails 2-3 days a week, don’t be surprised when you actually look forward to exercising. It actually makes so much sense.
#3) SetYour Goals For the Year! This may seem tough but it absolutely works. I’m not suggesting that each goal must go for a full year. Rather, break your goals into 3 to 6 month intervals. At the 6 month time frame, you simply fine tune or update your goal to prepare you for the next 3 to 6 months. This takes you out of feeling pressure to perform. Perform. And perform. At the 6 month mark, if you’re rocking one or two specific goals, continue the goals. If not, rethink your goals. Reset them. Make them work better for you. Believe me, it works!
#4) Stay Away From Resolutions! To reiterate my earlier key point, setting New Year’s resolutions absolutely doesn’t work. Consistency works. Goals work. Moving forward works. Finding a work out partner or buddy works. Get it? Please don’t buy into the “quick fixes” the infomercials often promise…and with very little effort. Buy into setting goals that will have you making steady improvement toward achieving your goals.
#5) Revisit Your Goals Regularly In reviewing your goals, build in reward(s) for reaching even the most basic of triumphs. In fact, make sure to absolutely celebrate your successes and often. If your goal is to visit the gym 3 times per week during February, awesome! However, if you manage 1-2 times per week celebrate the awesome success. Not the “I’m just too lazy and will never achieve my goals” vilification! That’s negative self-talk that will get you nowhere for sure…and the subject of another blog in the future.
Where Do I Go From Here?
You may actually be telling yourself, “that makes total sense Michael but I still feel overwhelmed with the idea of ongoing exercise.” Thank you for being honest! People often feel this way. Take a deep breath. Please try to keep a good and healthy perspective. Many of us have heard the wise advice to start small and gradually increase your workout energy effort. Exactly! Even more important could be finding a great workout partner to help motivate you. Get you over the hump of negativity.
Make sure and be extra kind to yourself in your quest to reach your 2017 goals. You’re going to blow it once in a while. Expect it. You’re human. That’s actually quite natural. What’s not natural is to simply bail on your goals because you’re not being perfect. Simply pick yourself up and move forward.
Remember! Consistency, excitement, and an awesome workout partner are all recipes for success. May you be your own great chef this year in your healthy recipe for success!!!
Michael Boman, LCSW is a relationship, marriage, and healing outdoors expert working at Wasatch Family Therapy in Salt Lake City, UT. He is accepting new clients who want to begin their journey of a healthier and happier lifestyle in 2017.
The Pixar movie Inside Out goes into the head of a little girl, Riley, who experiences her world through the lens of her emotions, each represented by a unique character, Anger, Disgust, Fear, Joy and Sadness. Joy is the leader of this group of individual emotions/characters, and works throughout the movie to protect Riley from sad emotions. Finally at the end of the movie, Joy learns that sadness is was pulls people in, and allows Riley to make the connection with her parents that comforts her and helps her begin to manage all the other emotions that are swirling around in her growing brain. That connection with her parents can also be called secure attachment.
Sadness is a primary emotion, and primary emotions are our vulnerable emotions. Sometimes we don’t feel safe being vulnerable, so we mask our primary emotions with secondary emotions. Secondary emotions are the reactions to our primary emotions that are designed to protect our vulnerabilities, so we sometimes use them to put up walls or push others away. This serves an important purpose in situations where we don’t feel safe, but can cause problems when something happens that causes us to feel unsafe with a romantic partner, a family member, or close friend.
If someone we care about does something that hurts us, we might feel sadness, or rejection, or fear, when we are hurting we work to protect ourselves and mask our sadness, rejection, or fear with anger, disgust, or frustration. We lash out to prevent the other person from hurting us more. This behavior starts us on a cycle of pain and protection.
If we can figure out a way to break the cycle, we can rebuild trust and emotional bonds, and regain that sense of comfort and attachment to important people in our life. Just like in the movie, the key to breaking the cycle is to become vulnerable, to express our feelings of sadness or fear. This can begin to change our interactions, and as our loved ones are able to respond to our primary emotions, we are able to be comforted.
The next time your partner expresses anger or frustration or disgust, try to imagine what primary emotion they are experiencing that is being masked, then respond with empathy to that primary emotion. You may be surprised what creating a safe space for them to be vulnerable does for your relationship!
To most, compassion is a commendable quality. But for some reason, this quality is limited to “others” in our culture, not often for “oneself.” Lets explore 3 possible false assumptions that may prevent us from applying compassion to oneself.
1-Self Compassion means weakness.
Susan didn’t express any painful feelings while going through her divorce. She believed she had to be “strong for the kids” and power on no matter what. This meant putting herself last and ignoring any emotional or physical needs. When Susan fell apart 3 months after the divorce was final, she wondered why she was able to be “strong” in the beginning, but then suddenly became “weak and unable to handle even the smallest tasks”. What Susan didn’t realize is that instead of being a “weakness”,
researchers are now discovering that self-compassion is one of the most powerful influences of coping and resilience, that we have available to us. How one relates to themselves when the going gets tough- as an enemy or ally-is often what determines ones ability to cope successfully.
2- Self compassion is narcissistic.
High self esteem requires standing out in a crowd-or being “above average” in the American culture. The problem of course is that it is impossible for us to be outstanding, all of the time. When we compare ourselves to those “better” than us, we will always feel like failures. An example of
this is teen bullying. One teen told me “picking on wimpy nerds boosts my self esteem and makes me feel cool”. After many sessions he finally discovered he needed to focus on himself, and ways to feel more secure, rather than his demeaning behavior towards others. Narcissism usually results in exercising power over others; self compassion is the opposite-empowering oneself so there is no need to compare or put others down.
3- Self compassion is selfish.
Some confuse self care with selfishness and assume caring of oneself automatically means neglecting everyone else. As a therapist, I am always amazed when I meet people who consider themselves to be good, generous, altruistic souls, who are perfectly awful to themselves. Caring for oneself is actually the opposite: it’s one of the most important things you can do to have healthier relationships, and it does not mean you neglect loved ones! In reality, beating yourself up can be a paradoxical
form of self centeredness. When we can be kind and nurturing to ourselves, however, many of our emotional needs are met, leaving us in a better position to focus on others. Therefore, having self compassion equals the ability to have more to give others, not less to give others.
These 3 myths often stand in the way of caring for ourselves. More information and even classes on ways to improve self care can be found at www.mindfulnessprograms.com or web search (name of State) i.e.. “Utah msar”.