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3 Things I Learned From the Kardashians

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While I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, I have to let you in on a guilty pleasure of mine; I love watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Most reality TV leaves me scoffing, changing the channel or, commenting with ridicule and judgment (I can’t help it), but when it comes to viewing Kim K and the rest of the family I walk away from each episode thinking “huh, amid the chaos there is something going well with this family”. It took me a while to sift through the grandiose- ego driven aspects of the show to find what I consider to be 3 real strengths that they demonstrate that could be applied to family therapy.

  • Pit and Peak

In one episode, the family sat down to family dinner, something they seemingly do often, and over the course of the meal each member took turn talking about the “Pit and the Peak” of their day. In other words, they were all present to check in with each other and share their experience of the day. There wasn’t much problem solving going on, but that seemed to be okay. The purpose of the exercise was more to hear and be heard.

*How this applies to family therapy: Spending meal times together and disclosing how your day went can be a great way to understand where people are emotionally, as well as offer support and praise. When we check in (and do it often) we are better able to avoid personalizing someone else’s bad day and this reduces conflict.

  • Be Real (real assertive that is)

For those of you who watch (and I know you’re out there), it is clear to see that this family has no problem putting themselves out there. While it may be a bit narcissistic or over the top in the show, what is also happening is self-validation. The Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, and Kris are willing to be vulnerable and verbalize when they are dissatisfied with one another. Rarely does this family let things get swept under the rug. When they are frustrated they let the other know and this creates the opportunity (for drama) AND for resolution. Yes, there are many times where they do not demonstrate assertive clear communication, but they are willing to put themselves out there and work it out.

*How this applies to family therapy: Passive communication often creates resentment and stress in families. Practicing assertive communication (like letting people know how you really feel) on the other hand, leads to a higher likelihood that those un-met needs that are causing conflict, will be met. Families that can “Be Real” with each other in respectful and validating ways are more likely to resolve and rebound from conflict and build secure attachments to one another.

  • Play

From creating their own music videos on family vacations, to wrestling, or playing pranks on each other, this family prioritizes play. No doubt that they are not short of drama or chaos, but their efforts to play and have fun with one another help counter balance the pandemonium and strife.

*How this applies to family therapy: When we forget to have fun with our families it limits our opportunity to learn and grow together. Play can be a stress relieving and bonding experience. With children, play can help them learn and develop various skills such as motor skills, cognitive skills, and social skills. Play teaches the parents to be patient towards their children and can have the added value of increasing the child or teens self-esteem knowing they will be attended to. Families who take the time to play together, are often more cooperative, supportive and have better and more frequent communications.

While I am not suggesting that we all start emulating the Kardashians, these few point may be work trying to incorporate into your family dynamics.

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Our Boundaries, Our Selves

Our Boundaries, Our Selves

“Boundaries can be understood as processes of contact and exchange,
moments of knowing, and movement, and growth.”
Judith V. Jordan

Knowing how to set healthy boundaries is an important part of living a life where you feel honest with yourself because you are able to interact honestly with others.  This isn’t a skill that comes with all of us into life. This isn’t a skill we learn in our formative years either.

We learn it, oftentimes, through experiences of pain and trauma, both emotional and physical.  Because of our experiences, we learn to have boundaries. Because of our experiences, we also gain the tough challenge of doing 3 life-altering things:

  1. Learning to value ourselves;
  2. Actively creating our identity;
  3. Balancing the ways we share our personal space.

Often times we are expected to share our personal space without regard to personal needs because of our roles in life – such as our families, our friends, our occupations or hobbies, our roles as as parents, siblings, spouses, or relatives.

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Are You Self-Aware or Self-Absorbed?: Julie Hanks, LCSW on Studio 5

We each have a long list of personal responsibilities: our finances, careers, bodies, families, etc. It’s critical to be aware of our lives and our needs. But when does self-awareness become self-obsession? Do we think about ourselves too much?  Here’s how to determine if you’re self-aware or self-absorbed:

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