Recently my tire light popped up on my dashboard. I had air placed in the tire. I think my anxiety level dropped just as quickly as the warning light went off when air was placed in the tire. I feel like there is not an inch of road or highway without some sort of construction on it so, I assumed it was a nail. The tenant said it was a slow leak, which, in my non-car professional opinion, meant I could go about my day-to-day without worry. Well, two weeks went by until the air light came on again. Ugh. This time, I knew I shouldn’t wait. I took my car in and, sure enough, there was a huge nail in it. I had 3 choices: One, put air in my tire and go about my day again…until. Two, just keep driving until…Three, replace or patch the tire for good. By choosing the third option, the source of what was causing the tire to lose air was found.This little ordeal reminds me a lot of how we as human beings work. Although we do not have an active warning light telling us something is wrong or when to ‘seek help immediately’, if we listen to our inner selves closely enough, we’ll discover the issues that need to be addressed. Those issues could manifest through physical, emotional, or mental pain, headaches, shallow breathing, over/under eating, lack of sleep, digestion issues, etc. Emotionally we could feel worn out, depressed, extremely sad, rageful, or distant. In our relationships, the unaddressed needs could cause withdrawing from our partner, disinterest in sex, lashing outbursts or disengagement. Our bodies are notorious for giving us signals to slow down, take a breath, or to talk with someone. Through the exploration of this self-awareness, creating the change we want is possible if we address the source of what is causing our pain.Anne Lamott, in Traveling Mercies, wrote, “It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools—friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty—and said, 'Do the best you can with these, they will have to do.' And mostly, against all odds, they’re enough.”I believe that this is the core of therapy. To help a person see the tools he or she has already obtained simply through living their life. Maybe the tools haven’t been used in a while (or ever) - a therapist can show you how to use them. Maybe you’re interested in using a new approach to solving an issue or finding the source of where the issue lies - a therapist can help you discover the many ways your tools can be used to help stabilize balance or provide more strength as you wrestle with the issue. You are enough. Let a therapist help you gain perspective in your life. Therapy is a way of providing you with lenses to see your full self. Don’t ignore the inner warning lights your body is showing you. Address them head on. Your perspective might just change, and in the process, your relationship and self as well!
When you hear the word ‘grief’, what word or image comes to mind? Maybe death and tears? Or a funeral and a black suit/dress? While these images may pertain to the death of a loved one, grief and loss are more than just a one time/one-hour event. Grief and loss can occur from a fire or other natural disaster, the loss of a home or job, a car wreck or a medical diagnosis, a family cut-off or an abusive situation, divorce or break-up. It could come from realizing you’re not as close or in tune with your partner as you had hoped. Infertility and/or miscarriage can be a big source of grief and loss. In our society a miscarriage is not seen or treated as a death. There is no funeral or time off work. It’s one of the major silent and isolated sources of grief.There is one theme that coincides with all these areas of grief/loss: unmet expectations. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this! My life was supposed to look like___!” But you’re here. Amid your pain, this is the journey you are on, and, comparable to life, grief is a journey! It is a present continuous verb that doesn’t stop. Unfortunately, grief is not something that can be checked off the ‘To Do’ list. Unaddressed emotions and unattended grief can lead to self-damaging/neglectful behaviors, additional stress and depression.Finding a supportive community to walk with you in your grief is essential. However, sometimes the best intentions or ‘advice’ from friends can leave one feeling even more isolated and/or alone if their words are demeaning to your grief. Here are somethings you can do in the midst of your grief to begin the healing process:
- Begin to listen to your body and emotions. Recognize your breathing, stress levels, and temperament.
- Ask for help. If going to the grocery store or running a certain errand is too overwhelming, ask a friend. Surround yourself with helpful and compassionate people who are not afraid to sit with you in silence or who will watch your child(ren) while you and your partner take time to spend time together to listen and talk with one another.
- Be patient with yourself. Give yourself grace and permission for the grieving process. Grief manifests itself in many ways and can appear out of nowhere. Seeking a professional therapist who will help you work through your loss is a great place to begin healing. As you work through your loss, you can gain acceptance and resolution. Having an empathetic person joining with you in your grief can bring a sense of purpose and meaning again.
Personal values (i.e. love and honor) not only help us to navigate the world, they also help us to relate to people around us, especially in our interpersonal relationships. Have you recently taken the time to evaluate what your personal values are? What values are essential to you and support a healthy life? Moreover, have you recently taken the time to consider what values are negotiable to you when in a relationship versus the values that are non-negotiable?I enjoy helping clients process their personal and interpersonal experiences in order to understand themselves more deeply and really get a sense of what their personal values are, both presently and moving forward in their lives. I believe that through collaboration and exploration of personal identity and values, I can help clients add meaning in their life in order to have quality, enriching relationships.Through self-exploration, I believe that clients can increase their overall confidence. With knowledge of communication skills, increased confidence, and a true sense of self-discovery, clients will have a good foundation of who they are in order to have flourishing relationships.Take the time to reflect on the following questions:
- What do I truly value in life?
- What do I value most right now?
- Do I see any patterns in my life?
- Are there any conflicts among the patterns in my life and my values, especially in my relationships?