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Archive for the ‘Relationships/Connections’ Category

Random Acts of Kindness

Posted on: February 28th, 2021

When I was a teenager I worked for a small department store a few hours per week.  I made plenty of mistakes.  My supervisor at the time was fairly strict about the procedures and I often felt stressed when I was working with her on my shift since I did often make a lot of mistakes.  I tried humor and a friendly smile, but she did not laugh.  

When it was time to leave for college, I thanked my supervisor for her time with me and gave her a tin of homemade cookies.  My supervisor cried and hugged me.  She told me that no one was ever nice to her.  I later learned just by listening that her husband had died and she had undergone a very difficult year.  After that event my perspective of this woman was changed.  I went back to visit her on school breaks to say hello and made an effort to speak to her before leaving the store.  She met me with a friendly smile, a warm hug, and well-wishes.  

As a counselor, I love teaching others about mindfulness, the benefits of not judging ourselves and others.  I talk about the practice of having compassion for others, even when it’s hard, and to be kinder to themselves during times of challenge or self-doubt.  One of DBT’s distraction strategies is called Contributing.  

By contributing to someone else, we mindfully focus on the need of another person.  By offering help, volunteering, doing a good deed, or providing a service for someone else, it takes our minds off ourselves and contributes to the wellbeing of someone else.  In this way, we learn to be generous, thoughtful, grateful, helpful and develop empathy for others.  Contributing offers a chance to reconnect and provides a sense of achievement. You can find more about this strategy here.

On February 17th, Random Acts of Kindness Day is celebrated.  This is a great time to think about doing something for someone else.  It doesn’t have to be big.  Perhaps a letter, text, phone call, or card might cheer someone up.  You never know what kind of impact a small gesture of kindness can have on a person’s life.  

For additional words and acts of kindness see Random Acts of Kindness | Kindness Ideas.  

If you are struggling to contribute to someone else and would like to learn more about connecting with others in your life, contact me at SHCS.

Boundaries: Making and Keeping Them

Posted on: November 15th, 2020

John is an excellent student. He works full-time and takes college classes. He sees his friends periodically, but due to his schedule his friends are only available to play online video games late at night, so he sacrifices sleep in order to spend time with them. Lately, his mind races when he needs to
be sleeping. At home, his family expects him to pick up additional responsibilities and chores and unload on him emotionally because he is still living there. He doesn’t have time for any self-care and is beginning to become stressed and depressed about his workload and home life. How can boundaries help?

According to Margarita Tartakovsky, Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and, really, a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn. Having healthy
boundaries mean “knowing and understanding what your limits are.”
She observes 10 ways to build and maintain them.

  1. Name your limits (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual). Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed.
  2. Tune into your feelings. Discomfort and resentment are red flags. The more intense the feeling, the need for boundaries. Ask yourself, “What is it about this interaction or the person’s expectation that is bothering me?”
  3. Be Direct. Speak up and say no.
  4. Give yourself permission. Fear, guilt, and self-doubt are pitfalls to maintaining healthy boundaries. Boundaries are a sign of self-respect. Work to preserve them.
  5. Practice Self-Awareness. Tune into your feelings and honor them. Notice the changes causing you resentment or stress.
  6. Consider your past or present. How you were raised along with your role in your family can become additional obstacles in setting and preserving boundaries.
  7. Make self-care a priority. Give yourself permission to put yourself first. Putting yourself first also gives you the “energy, peace of mind, and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there” for them.” 
  8. Seek Support. Practice setting boundaries within a group. In turn, the group helps one another stay accountable for setting and maintaining them.
  9. Be assertive. Follow through. Respectfully communicate with the other person when they’ve crossed a boundary. Let them know what has bothered you so you can address it together.
  10. Start small. What is the single most effective thing you can do right now to make one small thing in your life better?

    “Setting boundaries takes courage, practice, and support, but it is
    something that can be mastered.
    Not sure where to start? Give me a call at SHCS.

Showing Compassion for Our Health Care Providers

Posted on: May 30th, 2020

COVID19 has made its impact on the world.  Our country has taken steps to flatten the curve by restricting large social gatherings, closing schools and businesses, and placing entire states or counties under quarantine.  As the virus spreads, the health care industry prepares for an influx of cases.  Supplies are in demand from masks, testing kits, to ventilators.  Here are some ways you can help.

  • Make a mask.  If you have a talent for sewing, consider making and donating masks to a local hospital or testing site.
  • Restrict travel.  Work from home if able.  Purchase groceries and toiletries online whenever possible.
  • Join a community of faithful believers.  Connect virtually.  Meet up on Zoom.  Pray for your health care workers and an array of providers serving the needs of the community in your area.  Pray for all those affected by the crisis.
  • Donate:
    • Food to local healthcare teams and emergency personnel.
    • To charities or organizations that are providing helpful resources to hospitals.
    • Blood
  • Consider offering help with childcare or pets
  • Self-quarantine…even if you feel healthy at this time.
  • Acknowledge and thank them.  Use social media platforms to send virtual hugs or leave appreciative feedback.

Thinking About You, Thinking About Me

Posted on: October 30th, 2019

Ever make a decision that you felt made you happy, but might make others mad, and you did it anyway?  Say, send a text, made an accusation, or sent a “prickly ball” to someone just because you wanted a payback?  Ever say hurtful things to someone else without a second thought as to how that person may feel towards you afterward?  Ever not care about the consequences of those actions?  Ever argue with someone because they didn’t have the same viewpoint about a situation you were passionate about?  Ever “spin” the dialogue of another person to fit your own perspective?

Perspective-taking…Did you know no two people think exactly alike or see things the same exact way?  Maybe similarly sometimes, maybe not even close.  It happens all the time with teenagers, folks with autism, personality disorders, divorce situations, and among the many adults I see.  

Sometimes folks are so angry, so passionate, or so unwilling to allow others to have choices, that they are unwilling to see the view of any other lens, just their own.  Or they believe their opinion or viewpoint is the only correct one and become annoyed with others in their lives who challenge those opinions.  Or one person blames the other and fails to see their own contributions to an interaction that goes south.  It happens all the time.  The unfortunate situations are when children model the unhealthy interactions of what they see at home because they do not know anything else or split/side with one parent out of fear of the actions of the other parent.

To be an effective communicator takes work and effort.  It requires support and practice being assertive and making one’s needs known.  Human beings are all important and all have value.  We can all strive to be effective communicators.  

Here are some DBT tips to be more effective in not only in communicating, but also understanding the viewpoint of someone else.

  • Set up a goal for the interaction with the person you want to talk to 
  • Ask yourself what you want from the interaction and how you want to feel afterward?
  • Describe the situation you want to be addressed.
  • Express your emotions clearly.  Use I statements…. “I feel…”
  • Request what it is you want from the interaction
  • What does the other person need to hear in order to listen to you?
  • Stay mindful of your goal for the interaction
  • Act confidently (use a calm, neutral firm tone; eye-contact, etc)
  • Be willing to negotiate or compromise;  Or “Turn the tables” by saying, “what do you think we should do about this?”

If the relationship is important to you consider being:

  • Gentle
  • (act) interested
  • Validate feelings
  • Be easy-going (use humor if possible)
  • Stick to your values
  • Don’t apologize for having an opinion, even if it’s different
  • Above all, don’t argue, judge, criticize, make threats, or resort to intimidation tactics- this just adds fuel to the fire and will lead to problems.

Lastly, accept that if you are afraid to make your needs known or if you are the most effective person in the room, the environment may make it difficult to be effective.  It may not be an interaction that gets better.  You get to decide then whether working it out or moving on is the next step.  

Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes gives us a way to learn and understand the thoughts or actions of others.  It helps us to develop empathy and compassion.  Need support navigating relationships in your life?  Contact me at SHCS.

The Power of Connections

Posted on: July 15th, 2019

I’ve recently discovered my new favorite movie, Wonder.

It is hopeful and heartwarming despite pain, suffering, and loss faced by a child and his family.  In a world where bullying is rampant, love, support, and friendship overcome the odds.

If you haven’t seen it, watch it, or read the book.  I highly recommend it.

The movie reinforces that each of us faces a hard battle and ultimately kindness, compassion, paying attention to others, and offering support connects us and helps us to see each other.

Recently, I created Sound Health Counseling Solutions, LLC to connect people through music, the creative arts, counseling, and mindful action by offering a unique service that provides hope and solutions in a broken world.  

We all seek relief from our pain, to feel happier, less stressed, and more content.  We all seek acceptance and a sense of belonging.  

I’m an introvert.  I’m generally quiet around large groups of people.  While I enjoy being with people and making music with them, I also get energy by having alone time.  I am super animated with kids and older adults.  I’m quieter and more serious around co-workers (they are nodding), intimidated by social media (they are laughing), and do not care for large crowds.  I also have fewer meaningful friendships than most extroverts.  While having fewer friendships may sound sad to an extrovert, it’s just right for me.  But for many of the folks I encounter, establishing and creating a connection can be very stressful.  This lack of connection can feel isolating and lonely.

Are you feeling lonely, withdrawn, or unsure how to create meaningful relationships?  Try these 6 tips to connect with others in your life.

Identify Your Unique Interests: 

What do you like to do?  Do you have a favorite hobby, sport, music genre, or topic?  Whom do you like to share these interests with?  (A family member, peer, co-worker?)

Research Hangouts:

There is a meet-up for just about anything these days, whether it be a Minecraft group, new mom’s group, or a following of Star Wars fans on social media.  Find out where people that have your interests are meeting up.  Do they meet at school, church, online, in a performing group, at the movies, bowling alley, or the gym? 

Make Your List

Identify three potential groups to contact.  If it’s online, find out if the group is open or closed.  Find out when they meet and determine if any of the meet-ups could fit in your schedule.

Contact Your Resource

This is the hardest part, folks!  Not sure what to say?  Try this script… “Hi, my name is________.  I’m interested in________.  I noticed you offer a _________ group on__________.  Are you accepting new members?  If, so, is there a fee to join?  Thank you.”

Join/Attend the Event

Attend Comicon and bring someone along.  Go to the theater.  Meet at the movies.  Go to a concert.  Join a chorus, orchestra, or band.  Play in a drum circle.  Attend a baseball or football game. These are all places where you can encounter like-minded people just like you.  Too much?  Consider a smaller venue, like a restaurant, Bible study, or coffee shop.  The importance here is that you do something.  Get out of your comfort zone.

Establish that connection

Speak up.  (This can feel a bit uncomfortable if you are not an extrovert, but it’s brave and helpful).  Introduce yourself.  Talk about a topic of interest.  Find out three things about the other person.  See if the other person is interested in meeting up again.  Schedule the meet-up.

Need more support with your connections?  Contact me at SHCS.