Although tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, not everyone in a marriage will be celebrating. If you are in a marriage and have experienced infidelity or an affair, then you know how painful a close relationship can become. As the hurt spouse you have been robbed of trust, joy, self trust, your history as you’ve known it, a feeling of specialness, and most importantly, any secure sense of the future you had anticipated. Certainly, the romance and promise of Valentine’s Day has been shattered, at least for now.
If your spouse who has had an affair minimizes the circumstances and your response to it, trust that it is a function of their dread of consequences, / their entitlement, / their refusal to take responsibility for their behavior, and certainly their lack of empathy for the impact on you. Get support from a trusted friend, family member, group, and especially, a therapist. Whatever you do, DON’T buy into your spouse’s denial about the seriousness of the situation. Get help, and honor your experience of grief and betrayal as valid. Know that you or you and your spouse are probably ill equipped to go this alone!
Here are two terrific, must-read books I recommend to anyone who has or is currently going through this ordeal. One provides invaluable insights about the process, including the challenges and mandates for the “hurt spouse” as well as the “affair spouse.” The second book, about forgiveness, provides choices for how to move on, and vital repair tools for individuals and couples:
Just when I thought all the years of therapy had finally done their magic, and that I’d be free at last, I discover that my fatigue, nail biting, cynicism, and catastrophic thoughts about the future aren’t related to my crazy family upbringing, but about NOW, 2016 with this psycho election! The fact that I’m glued to the TV set, watching the pundits fight about whose crimes are worse, who’s a wuss, who’s really a psychothopathic liar, who’s fingers should be on the nuclear codes, is not because I’m a glutton for punishment, but all manifestations of my new diagnosis: Election Stress Disorder! AND, to make matters worse, I am apparently in good company with half the planet!
As a psychotherapist always keyed into actionable, positive change attitudes and behaviors, this one really stumps me. How do we all feel more hopeful and impactful when every day new dirt gets dug up on our candidates of “choice,” with Russia and Wikileaks playing their hand in events as well? This is a paranoid’s wet dream! One candidate is clearly a Neanderthal, the other cast as a disingenuous double talker. And, speaking of double talk, no one ever answers a question directly anymore, but on both sides they all pivot constantly, meaning deflect, avoid, spin! I pity the poor journalists who have to listen to this day in and day out without losing their cool!
Maybe the only hope for all of us with ESD is to remember that nothing lasts forever, that most truths come out in the wash eventually, that Election Day is less than a month away, and that until then, we all can put our fingers on the “Off” button when we’ve had enough. (Now, gotta go watch the final debate….)
When was the last time you got out of a warm bed at the crack of dawn to sweat on a treadmill – with eagerness? Or relinquished the beach on a gloriously sunny Saturday to do tax preparation? Or gladly put your openly introverted self in front of a group of 300 peers to give a lecture? You may have done all or any of these things, but chances are that you had to push yourself out of your comfort zone to do them in the name of some kind of benefit or reward. If, on the other hand, you’ve made a habit of staying in your womb-like routine without taking any risks into the unfamiliar, then you’ve probably missed out on some novel experiences, learning, excitement and rewards.
So, if you’d like to be less risk averse and get better at pushing yourself to do new things, here are a four of my seven tips and tools I’ve developed from my years of working with individuals and couples in therapy:
- Create a clear vision for your goal, defined specifically. (Ex: By tax time in April I will have all my financial data tabulated and formatted, ready for the accountant in Quickbooks).
- Identify your potential saboteurs and what your options are to head them off at the pass. (Ex: Self, wanting to do more fun stuff. Fix: Reward self with the fun stuff after I’ve done the work each week).
- Formulate a clear action plan for the “Push,” defining it specifically and behaviorally. (Ex: I will do two hours of Quickbooks entries every Saturday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM regardless of the weather or invitations I’ve received to do fabulous things).
- Identify the intrinsic and concrete rewards to yourself / others in making this effort to move out of your comfort zone. (Ex: I will feel more organized, centered, and prepared for tax time. My accountant will appreciate the timely, orderly data. My friends and family will get to see a cheerier version of me more frequently on weekends).
For more free tools and tips about this and many other issues, subscribe to my list on the right. “Pushing Yourself” is the 92nd free article you will get about all kinds of issues related to the relationship with yourself and with others.
In addition, if you’d like individual help with self-motivation or any other dilemma, feel free to contact me at my Portsmouth, NH office anytime for an appointment at: 603-431-7131. I’d be glad to help!
I’m very excited to announce this upcoming BlogTalk Radio episode about Trauma Sensitive Yoga with Lisa Boldin, a graduate of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, and specialist practitioner in this unique form of Yoga.
In this episode we’ll discuss the unique advantages of Trauma Sensitive Yoga for anyone who is struggling with anxiety, emotional stress, or trauma related to experiences such as sexual assault, military combat, or domestic violence.
Call in toll-free at 877-497-9046 to share comments or ask questions about this Yoga. Or, listen live streaming (or later to the recording) at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager where you will learn more about how and why this practice offers unique benefits for coping with PTSD. You won’t want to miss this show!
It’s been about a month since I’ve posted, and I’m happy to say, I’m back! With the holiday busyness, a surprising surge of clients, a nasty virus and some minor surgery, it feels like my life got hijacked.
But, there was also another culprit responsible for my absence: overthinking! I’m somewhat of a perfectionist to begin with, so my mind tends to over-review details in an effort to get things right, or just so. What prompted this post however, were two situations in particular: learning Quickbooks to enter details about my business expenses for my accountant, and a return to skiing for the first time this season.
Quickbooks is a ripe medium for overthinking: tons of little details with specific ways to enter information appropriately. I thought I’d learn to do it myself rather than spend the time and money outsourcing it to a bookkeeper. What I found is that it’s an arena with loads of uncertainties if you’re a beginner, especially not a financial professional. So it’s been about a month of torture, with countless hours of entries, checking and rechecking, all on weekends when “normal” people are having some fun! Here’s what Psychology Today says about overthinking:
“The human mind hates uncertainty. Uncertainty implies volatility, randomness, and danger. When we notice information is missing, our brain raises a metaphorical red flag and says, “Pay attention. This could be important…” When data is missing, we overestimate its value. Our mind assumes that since we are expending resources locating information, it must be useful.”
(So there I was)…..
Then I went skiing again for the first time this season on my new “shaped” skis, and found myself reviewing all the instructions about proper form and perfectly executed turns I’d learned from lessons in the past. It took me about five runs before it occurred to me to just have some fun and let muscle memory set in. The ensuing runs were exuberant, and nobody got killed!
So here are a few of my antidotes for overthinking things:
1. Just do it! Take action, be willing to make “mistakes,” and be in the moment of the experience, so you get out of your head. If you’re overthinking your motivation, then make your motivation the “caboose,” not the “locomotive.” You can think about your motivation on the tail end after you’ve taken action – i.e., as with exercise.
2. Distract an overactive mind by directing your attention elsewhere – focus on the desired end result you imagine, like with skiing, do some mental rehearsal, envisioning yourself flying down the mountain with joy, rather than obsessing on the details of each turn.
3. Practice regular meditation, daily exercise, and when all else fails, get some medication to calm down your obsessional thinking.
So, for all of us over thinkers the task is also to accept that life is filled with uncertainty, to trust that uncertainties usually won’t kill us, and to relinquish our illusions of control. It’s an Eastern thing….
I spent all day today taking an online social media training. I think I learned a lot, but it’s hard to say, as I’m now in “brain scramble” mode. Is it just me, or do any of you get totally overwhelmed when you learn a bunch of new, foreign things? I end up feeling excited/inadequate/determined/bewildered/curious, etc. It’s odd, because when I teach people in relationships new skills I always encourage them to not get too fancy or hard on themselves – to incorporate and practice baby steps until they get more proficient, and to congratulate themselves on little pieces of progress.
I think I’ll try to take my own advice, and not stay up till the crack of dawn attempting to master the new information in one fell swoop. So, if my Instagrams appear upside down, or my Facebook posts show my own “likes,” or my Tweets have five redundant hashtags, please be patient while this old dog learns some new tricks. And I’ll try being patient with myself… 😉
Here we are, amazingly in September, when just yesterday it was the beginning of June! Where did the time go? I think most (normal) people feel a twang of sadness at this time of year, saying goodbye to the sweet, long days of summer, when you don’t have to wear socks or coats, or worry about the cold, and the snow.
But in New England, it’s another thing entirely. People here grieve the end of the carefree warmth and sunshine. Typical conversations focus on charming things like: When are you getting a generator? Do you have a decent snowblower? Did you get a roof rake yet? Does that new car you bought have 4 wheel drive? Have you winterized your shrubs? Did you bring in the air conditioners? How’s your winter coat? Did you paint the side of the house yet? Have you raked all the leaves? Did you drain your septic while the ground is unfrozen? Do you have good boots? How are your knees doing? (You’ll need them).
The list of “to do’s” goes on and on, as New Englanders grieve and prepare for:
– piles of snow
– cabin fever
– frigid temperatures
– dark mornings
– dark evenings
– slipping and sliding
– black ice accidents
– gaining weight, etc., etc…………
I call it New England Seasonal Affective Disorder, something unique to us in our little corner of the globe. We adore our measly little summers. We love our glorious Fall, but whine incessantly about winter coming. Then when winter is actually here, we marvel at its beauty while we ski, ice skate and snowshoe, or sit by our blazing fires reading books, talking to our spouses, playing instruments, cooking, doing projects. Ah, winter……
The irony is that only a fraction of us New Englanders would trade it all in for a condo in a gated community in Florida. Okay to visit, but no thanks. We’ll stick with our ice and snow, and our seasonal schizophrenia, because we’re tough, and besides, it’s so beautiful here!
Hang in there, (the days get longer again after December 21st!)
Every year starting in March, and going through April 15th, most everyone I know, myself included, gets weirded out about taxes. Preparing them for the accountant, realizing all the money spent on ridiculous things, waiting to find out the verdict about what’s owed or what, if anything will be refunded, then PAYING FOR IT! Most dining room tables have long been lost to piles of papers, documenting finances for the past year. Some tables, I hear, have remained in “tax mode” for years!
It’s a little bit like pregnancy and childbirth. The buildup is literally and figuratively huge, the event is unnerving, but then, thankfully it’s over and forgotten – until the next time around.
The one consolation is that you are not alone. Thousands and thousands of people procrastinate to the very end when dealing with taxes. (I have clients who were just beginning the whole process this week!) Thousands more are checking their mailboxes daily to get the package back from the accountant telling them if they’re screwed or not. (I see at least one neighbor doing this each day.)
Everyone moans about it. Nobody has a viable alternative though, if you like having drivable roads, safe bridges, public schools, and such things.
My best advice? Remind yourself that:
1. This is the un-fun part of being an adult.
2. This too shall pass – at least until next year…….
Many people here in the Northeast are getting severe “cabin fever” with all the arctic weather we’ve been having. There are now also new things to worry about, like: Have you shoveled your roof, so you won’t get “ice dams”, and risk a collapse? Have you insulated your pipes so they don’t freeze and burst? Have you become a couch potato, bursting out of your “fat” clothes? Have you left your pet enough water, so it doesn’t die of thirst when outside? Have you de-iced your walkways, so you don’t break your neck going for your “healthy power walk”? Have you moisturized your skin, so you don’t look like you’re ninety when you’re 45? Is your ionizer working, so you don’t die of black mold? (etc.)…
How can we possibly stay calm and relaxed? With Mind-Body tools to beat stress! For a primer on the subject, go to my BlogTalk Radio show, The Couplespeak Relationship Forum, episode: “Chill Out! Easy Mind-Body Tools To Beat Stress”, with expert Katherine Frick at 9PM EST: 877-497-9046 (toll-free).
If you’re too STRESSED, and can’t be live on the call, then get into your pajamas, grab a glass of wine (if you’re not an alcoholic), curl up in your favorite chair, and listen to the recorded show through the BlogTalk Radio button at the bottom right side of this blog.