Couplespeak™ Blog

Managing the Challenges of 2020 and the Uncertainty of 2021

If your experience of 2020 and early 2021 feels like the above image, you’re not alone! No matter what side of the political fence you’ve embraced it has been a year of loss, constraints, hopelessness, helplessness,  hatred,  anxieties and extreme division, often among members of the same family, or among friends. Not only have most of us faced differences which have felt toxic and relationship-breaking, but a daily onslaught of information and news about catastrophic events, happening now, or about to unfold. I think there has been a collective experience of trauma in this country, and probably in many places around the world. Covid 19 illnesses and deaths, loss of income, loss of faith in the System, violence, racism, uncertainty.

To that point I’m encouraging everyone to pause and reflect on a few things:

How have you been coping and how well has it served you?

  • Over-drinking or drugging?
  • Isolating?
  • Reviewing the horrors frequently with peers who get it?
  • Over-eating or over-indulging in comfort foods or sugar?
  • Targeting your loved ones with rage-outs? 
  • Overspending on Amazon?
  • Denying anything unusual is happening and proceeding without any cautions or adjustments?
  • Over-working and sacrificing sleep / self care rituals?
  • Over-thinking and going to catastrophic conclusions?

In my psychotherapy practice I’ve seen how people’s responses to the trauma either exacerbate or alleviate some of the stress, bring people together for support and meaningful action or tear them apart. Depression and anxiety are off the charts now as people struggle with feelings and thoughts that can become runaway trains in response to such triggering events.

So, instead of going through a long list of more functional coping mechanisms I’m encouraging you all to begin by examining the strategies you’re already using and taking an honest look at how well these strategies are serving you. If they calm and energize you, at what cost to yourself or others? If they provide relief, how momentary or enduring is it? Do your coping mechanisms give you any sense of meaning, agency, or connection to others whom you respect and trust? Are you finding any joy amidst all this madness? Are you protecting your mental and physical health, or has that been one price of how you’ve tried to manage?

All meaningful change begins with Contemplation, so give that it’s due. Then, if you decide to seek out different coping tools you’ll be readier to use them intentionally, creatively and effectively.

Intolerance On Campus

Hello Reader,

Like so many millions of others, I was so saddened and sickened to hear about the tragic death of Tyler Clemente, the Rutgers freshman who commit suicide after being so cruelly and publicly outed by his roommates. Among the many issues central to this story, are two that stand out for me as a psychotherapist and coach: Intolerance, and “Unthinking”, or unconsciousness.

Obviously, filming and publicly airing footage of a gay man having a sexual encounter with another, is predicated on homophobic sadism, so the perpetrators have actually just unwittingly outed the darkest parts of their own psyches. They will have to face their own intolerance and cruelty, and live with the consequences somehow. But it’s also the issue of committing this violation of privacy and decency, probably framing it as a “joke”, and not thinking through the consequences of such an act on the heart and dignity of a fellow classmate, that’s the clincher here. As a psychotherapist I find unthinking acts, unless they are ones of kindness and generosity, to be very dangerous and damaging.

It’s the ultimate copout to not think through the possible immediate and long-term effects of one’s own behavior on others. One’s own “moment of hilarity”, or “thrill”, can become a lifelong legacy of pain for the recipient, in this case, pain so intolerable, that the young man ended his life jumping off a bridge.

My biggest wish for all of humanity is to not only grow more open-hearted tolerance for difference, but to commit to thinking through to the impact on others– to be more conscious (and empathic) in all relationships. What a world we’d have if everyone worked harder on this every single day!……..

Susan Lager, The Closer Couples Coach

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Susan Lager

I am a licensed, board certified pyschotherapist and relationship coach in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Through my psychotherapy or coaching services, I can provide you with skills and tools to transform your life.

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