Background Shadow

What Can Veterans Day Teach Us About Relationships?

Veterans Day traces its origin to the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.  At this hour, the Allies and Germany agreed to a cease fire on the Western Front.  Although some fighting continued in other areas, it became the date that  the “war to end all wars” ended.  Celebrated as Armistice Day in many allied countries, after WWII, the holiday became known as Veterans Day in the US.   And at 11:00 am on Veterans Day, many people will observe two minutes of silence: one to remember soldiers we’ve lost, and one to remember those who remain.

We pay tribute to military personnel past and present on 11/11/xx because a huge conflict ended on 11/11/18.  Hostilities ceased when two warring parties agreed to stop fighting.  At a moment in time, intentions changed and a war ended…

How could a focus on intention change our relationships? [Read more…]

Are You Ready to Start?

If so, please Contact Me and describe your concerns and we'll discuss how counseling can help.

The Great Perfection Hoax: A Horse’s Exposé

For certain purposes and for limited times, horses wear blinders to reduce the distraction of what is behind and beside them.  Some trainers use blinders keep horses from getting spooked on busy streets or distracted by crowds at a race.  By limiting their field of vision, blinders enable horses to focus on the task at hand.  If worn all the time, however, blinders would get in a horse’s way. He may not spot the cool stream to his left or the tasty mound of hay to his right.  He could run through a wide meadow unable to quench his thirst or satisfy his hunger.

So, what do horses, blinders, and perfection have in common?

Searching for perfection is like wearing blinders: it limits our field of vision.  We become unaware of change and opportunity outside a narrow focus of expectation.  Sure, perfection has its allure – otherwise we wouldn’t be enticed by perpetual media adds tempting us with the perfect car, a way to get flawless skin, or  exercise equipment promising 6-pack abs in a flash.  The problem is that perfectionism defines success in very narrow terms, and like blinders on a horse, it excludes a wide range of possibilities that we may actually find appealing.   Think about how expecting perfection in people can mess up relationships.  Evidence of imperfection in a loved one may blind us to his good points, while imperfection in ourselves motivates us to dismiss our own strength, beauty, and value.

Just as horses don’t always wear blinders, perhaps its time for us to remove the blinders of perfection.  What will happen if we do?

A teenager may discover a gorgeous smile amid acne.  A septuagenarian may recognize sparkly eyes in sea of wrinkles.  A man may appreciate his 10 year old ride.  A wife may discover kindness in her husband.  A woman may realize that her curvy body is sexy.   A student may discover that learning is more important than just getting A’s.   Without blinders, maybe we’ll all get closer to finding satisfaction.

What will you discover when you remove the blinders of perfection?

Are You Ready to Start?

If so, please Contact Me and describe your concerns and we'll discuss how counseling can help.

How to Improve Communication with Teenagers

Last Friday night, my teen daughter and I watched as Nik Wallenda crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope.  For too many parents, talking to teenagers can feel like walking on a tightrope (minus a safety tether).  How can you avoid this feeling and find a connection with adolescents?

 Here are some suggestions to help keep your feet on solid ground:

  1. Calm your body.  If your heart is racing and your gut is churning, you may need to take a few deep breaths before proceeding to communicate with your teenager.
  2. Be present and tune in to your teenager’s inner world.  You hear and see what she’s doing, but really listen and think about what she may be experiencing inside.   Too often we misread clues: I’ve mistaken anxiety and fear for obstinance.
  3. Maintain your own emotional balance.  Your excessive emotional reaction can incite communication chaos and a rigid cold reaction won’t promote a healthy connection.
  4. Pause before speaking or acting.  This might save you from impulsively putting a parental foot in the mouth.
  5. Face your fear.  During the pause consider if the anger and irritation you feel is driven by your own fear and not your teenager.  Sometimes our parental fears are irrational.
  6. Show empathy.  Try to see the situation from your teenager’s point of view.  Can you sense his intentions and imagine what something means in his mind?

Maybe it’s less about what our teenagers bring to the table and more about how we respond.  We have little control over the former and most control over the latter.

 What helps you communicate with your teenager? 

What are your challenges?

 

Are You Ready to Start?

If so, please Contact Me and describe your concerns and we'll discuss how counseling can help.