As a couples therapist I routinely talk to my clients about the ambiguous road ahead of them in working on repairing and enriching their relationships. The work is generally fraught with uncertainty and likely setbacks, as is the case with most hard earned changes. This discussion always involves the issue of what each partner needs to “stay in the game,” or what would they minimally require of themselves and each other to maintain hope, energy and good faith in the process.
What each of us needs to “stay in the game” applies to any endeavor which doesn’t produce immediate lovely results. Last week, after three years of often grueling work, I received my official documentation awarding me the trademark for the name “Couplespeak.” I had invented the name for a division of my company which would provide coaching products and services live and online. Getting the trademark with proprietorial rights to the name required me to write books, articles, eBooks, develop workshops, training programs, blogs, videos, a BlogTalk Radio program, and to manage multiple internet platforms.
Mind you, all the while I’ve had a full time private psychotherapy practice, and started with very little interest in the internet and tech devices three years ago. But I loved the name “Couplespeak,” and believed that if I could live long enough I could grow it into something really significant. The whole process required that to finish, I stay in the game, the Couplespeak game. I had to devise ways of making myself accountable, and maintaining my passion for the project. I had to enlist the support of my friends and family. I had to learn when to take breaks and when to force myself back into the effort. Just as anyone requires in any big, meaningful project, I needed to keep up my faith in myself, and my faith in the work itself. And now, just as anyone would, I’ll need to allow this “finish” to become the remarkable start of something else, a new game…..
PS. For copies of my new books about staying sane in the relationship game, go to Amazon: http://amzn.to/12ALenB
I have recently come out of my annual tax trance – the time of year when I’m so immersed in columns of figures and tabulations that a meteor could hit the house and I’d barely notice it. Luckily, my impression is that this oblivious state seems to abate in mid March when I return to my usual therapist’s occupational hazard of incessantly questioning and noticing things.
I like to think that I’m generally pretty committed to a process of self-examination, particularly in my relationships. It’s a daily practice, though, to do this, kind of like working out or maintaining good sleep habits. Like sobriety, it’s easy to fall off the wagon and go back into a behavioral and attitudinal trance at any point, so I’ll share a few of the 20 key questions I’ve devised that you can reflect upon in order to be more awake in your relationships:
- What am I most insecure about?
- What defenses do I use to protect myself emotionally?
- How might these defenses be hurtful to others?
- Are there other, more benign defenses I could use?
- Do I apologize when I’ve been out of line? If so, how?
- Do I self-medicate with substances? If so, how, when, and with whom?
- What would happen if I were more open?
If you start with these questions, and are honest with yourself about what you see, I think you’ll open up a process of taking more responsibility for yourself, and move toward being more awake in your relationships. For more details about the other 13 key “consciousness questions,” as well as a wealth of information about how to thrive in all your partnerships, grab a copy of my new workbook, “Become Relationship Smart Without A Lifetime Of Therapy” available in paperback, and now also as an eBook on Amazon at: http://amzn.to/12ALenB
I know you’ll enjoy it!
I am delighted to announce that FINALLY my new workbook, “Become Relationship Smart Without A Lifetime of Therapy” has been published and is available as a paperback on Amazon! It’s a goldmine of tools and skills necessary for you to do better in any relationship. If I do say so myself, I think you’ll LOVE it! (I do). Enjoy!
You can purchase it now on my CreateSpace eStore at: https://www.createspace.com/4077013
Or, you can get it on Amazon at: http://amzn.to/WBK83q
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about over-thinking. People like me, who are a bit perfectionistic and a bit obsessive, are often guilty of it. In my case, I was set up for it by a family that made a production out of EVERYTHING from the contents of a dinner, to a day at the beach. If we went for an ice cream cone at Carvel, it wasn’t a simple impulsive trip to the place three miles away, but a carefully constructed evening ride up the Taconic Parkway to the Carvel sixty miles north, complete with blankets and car games for the outing. Over-thinking was reframed as creativity, diligence, thoroughness and spirit. Everything we did was elaborately planned, and for the most part we had great fun in the process!
Fast forward to the present. For the last twenty, (yes 20!) years I’ve been thinking about hiring a billing service for my psychotherapy practice. The billing is the least favorite and most incompetent thing I’ve always done, struggling to keep up with the sheer volume of it daily. I’m often apologetic about it to clients, or make jokes about my ineptness in that department. I rarely feel self-doubt about the therapeutic work itself, just the damn billing! I’ve milled over the notion of relinquishing the control, the work involved in transferring the information to a service, the time it would take me, the cost, etc. This is what over-thinking looks like when it’s counterproductive, not artistic! So I’ve finally decided to let go of this last vestige of self-apology, and this exercise in over-thinking– I’m hiring a billing service! And what’s the point of announcing this, you ask? To follow the Nike logo: JUST DO IT!!!! Before getting caught in a spin of all the “how-to” details, I will follow my own therapeutic advice and take one small step each day, breaking the task down into teeny weeny steps, and NOT think about it!
So if you too have an overactive brain that makes a production out of things, do four things to free yourself from the obsessive spin:
1. Ask yourself if your over-thinking an issue serves some larger creative, safety, or fun purpose, or not.
2. If not, decide what a reasonable person would do for action, without further ado.
3. Break the task or dilemma down into bite-size pieces, day by day, and ignore your thoughts.
4. Build in time to “review” progress at intervals, not daily– (that leads to more over-thinking.)
Then sit back and enjoy the completion without all the internal “noise”.
Oh, and one more thought…………………………
PS. Call toll free 877-497-9046 at 9:30PM on Wednesday, February 9th, to hear my next BlogTalk Radio episode, “Uncover The Truth – Hire A Private Investigator”, with Frank Santin, a Private I. It should be lots of fun!
GO EASY ON YOURSELF!
It all started with mean old, red-faced Miss Siegel, my first grade teacher who yelled at me whenever I didn’t put some project together properly. From that year on, I became officially “mechanically challenged”. To this day, operating the giant snow blower, or fancy new washing machine may as well be a secret assignment to decipher the DaVinci code. It often takes me three minutes just to figure out how to turn off the new TV, and the DVD player, not the streaming video. Don’t even ask what I’ve gone through manipulating HTML code, doing uploads, downloads, and distinguishing directories from folders in this bizarre internet world!!! But the good (and not so good) news is: I’m not alone! There are millions of us out there, swearing at the TV, staring at the washing machine, and having a love-hate relationship with their laptops. I’ve worked with many right-brained clients trapped in a left-brained world, wondering what’s wrong with themselves, stymied by online bills, ATM’s, and the ultimate mystery of resetting their car clocks. Over the years, our work together has been a combination of gentle self-acceptance, and self-challenge, i.e. where did this script come from? and how to push yourself outside your comfort zone to master new skills? Recently, I heard that Albert Einstein couldn’t tie his own shoe laces (!) So, go easy on yourselves, Right-brainers, maybe your car clock eludes you, but just think, you could instead create the NEW Theory of Relativity!
Goodnight and good luck,
PS. Check out my latest video about thankfulness on YouTube! Susan Lager’s Youtube Channel