Life Passport

counseling

I have heard, on many occasions, people talk about regrets regarding life choices that didn’t turn out quite like they had hoped or worries about future decisions that also might result in disappointment.  While these feelings are completely normal and everyone experiences them from time to time, I don’t find the time spent on regret or worry to be very useful overall.

We need to give ourselves the freedom to have learned from our “mistakes.” Come to think of it, why even put a negative spin on life experiences? Can’t we just allow ourselves the breathing room to live and learn and grow and change? Can’t we value the journey of life rather than always feeling let down when we don’t reach a particular goal? Sure, we all need purpose and direction to the things we are spending our time on but I find that many people berate themselves for not having gone on some upwardly slanted trajectory free from any human clutter along the way.

I would rather that we learn to value our journey through life and all that we have learned from the different twists and turns our roads have taken. Maybe a metaphorical life passport if you will. Getting stamps along the way of different character development we gained such as compassion, patience, good people skills or decisive decision-making. So what if we have started and stopped a few things in life? Maybe just going through the journey was the point and not the end goal we had envisioned in our own minds.

As we celebrate Christmas this week and the ending of 2013 next week, let’s give ourselves permission to look at our life journey from a fresh perspective and maybe we will actually find some interesting stamps in our passport that we failed to recognize previously. I know I have a few; what are yours?

Game of Cat and Mouse

couple's counseling

“It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do…”
– Wicked Game by Chris Isaak

Well, isn’t that the truth.

We have all witnessed either ourselves or others behave in very odd ways when love, romance and desire is in the room. Good normal sound thinking people become foolish and not always in great ways. Sometimes love induced foolishness is sweet and fun to be a part of or to watch in others. Sometimes love induced foolishness is downright ugly and toxic.

Foolishness comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s not recognizing when an emotional game is being played and only one person of the couple knows the rules. Wicked game indeed. The games people play within relationships are things that heartbreak, anxiety and ulcers are made of. As a counselor I have seen a dozen variations of the games that get played between two people who supposedly love and adore one another.

Sometimes people play a game of Cat and Mouse wherein they engage in a battle of pursuing and running away. Come close and flee.  Be emotionally and/or physically connected and then run away; while leaving the other one to take to the chase and pursue what was once enjoyed but has now vanished. We have to restrain from assuming that men are stereo-typically the ones who come close and run away, with women being the pursuer of the bonding that was shared. Women run too.

Now I do need to say that some form of cat and mouse is normal and even healthy for a couple. Every relationship includes times of the couple coming close and then needing to have space to give the relationship some breathing room. It’s great when both partners understand the need to maintain their individuality and interests separate from the couplehood. It’s especially great when both partners know that time apart is not intended to be an emotional Siberia or wicked game. Couples have to talk about how their time will be managed so that confusion and hurt feelings are not the outcome of what otherwise is a healthy component to a relationship.

The toxic version of Cat and Mouse involves calculated and deliberate attempts to control the emotions of another person and to maintain some sense of power within the relationship; one pursues emotional bonding and one runs away as a game. That’s not healthy.

If you find yourself in a Cat and Mouse relationship, I encourage you to watch for patterns and see how and when the Mouse runs away. Is he/she trying to manipulate your emotions or simply needs some time apart? If manipulation is the game, I suggest you immediately stop running towards the Mouse and deal with the situation.

Communicating how your partner’s actions feel for you is critical. Then wait and see what they do with that information. Married folks, don’t let this issue sit idle without being addressed. It is the type of behavior that will create the walls that separate you two. Single people, think long and hard about whether this is the type of life you want to live for years and perhaps decades to come because if the Mouse isn’t willing to change their emotional manipulations now while dating, it might be time to find another Cat who knows how to be in a relationship that is free from wicked games.

 

 

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week – 10/30/13

counseling

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week or Was Reminded Of:

1) I am amazed how getting out of a routine for even a few days can lead to all kinds of bad habits reemerging. With my house in disarray because of a remodel, the normal routine is out of whack and good habits go bad quickly for a lot of us. The key is to get right back into our healthier routine as quickly as possible.  Let’s not dwell on the bad habits and instead start right now with getting back to those habits that make us feel healthy, strong and positive about our self-control skills.

2) God really does orchestra great things for us, even when we are not so sure at the time. Hindsight is 20/20 and we can often see later on why a certain thing in life didn’t work out and it was ultimately for our benefit. If today something isn’t working out the way you had hoped for, hang tight. With enough time and distance from the disappointment, clarity WILL come and you might even end of up feeling grateful for that thing that didn’t work out.

3) We should never underestimate the power of good people in our lives. They are the human clue that helps hold us together when life is less than desirable and they are the ones that bring the biggest smiles to our faces. If you have these types of friends in your life, you are blessed indeed. If true authentic companions are missing from your life, don’t feel embarrassed about that fact. A lot of people feel the exact same way. Get busy, not just doing the same thing everyday, but try new activities and you might just find one or two special people to brighten your life and theirs.

4) There are some great schools with great teachers in the classrooms. However there are also some less than stellar schools with teachers who are doing emotional harm to youth. Bullying doesn’t just come from other kids. Unfortunately it can and does come from adults towards kids in schools too. Listen to your student and hear what he/she has to say about how they are treated in the classroom. If something doesn’t sound right, follow up on it. Don’t just assume all teachers have children’s well-being in mind, sadly.

5) Anxiety is an over accumulation of feelings that weren’t dealt with at the time so like air going into a balloon, if the feelings (air) don’t come out…POP! A panic attack follows. There are many therapeutic resources available to people who are dealing with anxiety. Living with anxiety is exhausting which leads to more anxiety, which leads to more exhaustion, which leads… At some point, we have to try something different to get a different result and the same goes for getting free from anxiety.

What’s on your list?

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week – 10/24/13

counseling

 Five Things I’ve Learned This Week or Was Reminded Of:

1) Some days go by so fast and furious that I can forget to post my “weekly” blog on its usual day, Wednesday. So here you are getting it today; a day late. Yes, I am very human and forget things all the time.

2) There are times when medication for depression and/or anxiety is exactly what is needed to help the current situation. I am a big advocate of trying everything else before getting a medication consultation with a doctor or psychiatrist. But when meds are needed, they are needed and are a huge blessing to many people. If anyone judges and says that going on medication is not “trusting God,” feel free to politely inform them that the conversation is over. Allowing ourselves to continue under a heavy burden can’t be God’s heart for us; in my opinion.

3) Make a list of all the things you use to do as a couple before you got married. How many of those activities do you still do? If many have fallen off and not replaced with new ones, start making some plans to get busy. We can’t expect to feel the same if we don’t act the same.

4) If parents want to allow their children to dress up as Spiderman or a Princess and go mooch candy from the neighbors on 10/31/13, that’s their choice as parents.  Yes we should be educated about the history of activities we engage in but I have seen one to many Facebook posts this week that just reeked of judgement from well-meaning people. We can share our views and leave it at that; without putting down people’s parenting.

5) Brett Favre just needs to stay retired and that’s all I have to say about that.

What’s on your list?

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week – 10/16/13

counseling

 Five Things I’ve Learned This Week or Was Reminded Of:

1) Everyone has a story. A story of joys, disappointments, fears, overcoming obstacles, unfulfilled desires, tragedies, dreams that have come true and the list goes on and on. We should never think we have won the prize of a perfect life or the most tragic existence. It’s all relative to our individual experiences.

2) Sports are great for kids. They teach them about their own personal strengths and limitations. As parents we should welcome opportunities for our children to be stretched beyond what they think they can do; sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing. Participating in either an individual or team sport is a wonderful source of personal growth.

3) There is no one “right” way to be a Christian; although there are plenty of churches who will proclaim to have found the one and only true way to worship and walk out a life of faith. In reality (or at least my reality), there are as many ways to love God and seek after Him as there are denominations (and probably more ways to).

4) Nothing will light your fire for getting home improvement projects done like thinking about selling your house and wanting it to sell quickly so you can buy another bigger house. You suddenly have eyes to see all the projects you’ve been walking by and not noticing. Funny how when you think of strangers scrutinizing your home, it all of a sudden needs some TLC.

5) It’s a good feeling to start home improvement projects with the desire to sell and upgrade, but after looking at a few “better” houses, realize that everything you want and need is already in your sweet littler home. Being truly content in life is a wonderful gift. Side note: since the home improvement projects have been started, now I get to enjoy the final product rather than move and let strangers enjoy the fruits of my labor! Double bonus.

What’s on your list?