Category Archives: Relationships

How Mindfulness Coaching Can Help Relationship Empathy & Conflict Resolution

Mindfulness Can Help Build Empathy & Resolve Conflict

Portland relationship coaching for conflict resolutionWhen we talk about mindfulness, we usually focus on mindfulness within the individual: an awareness of one’s own thoughts and emotions or staying present in the moment to enjoy one’s own life. What’s missing from the conversation is the mindfulness required to create meaningful connections with others. To have a successful relationship, you can’t be mindful of only your own interior experience; you must be mindful of the other person’s, too.

So much of our conflict with loved ones comes from an unawareness of another human being’s inner reality. The phrase buried in so many apologies is “didn’t mean to”: “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” “I didn’t mean to make you angry,” “I didn’t mean to upset you.” The truth would sound more like, “I wasn’t paying any attention to you when I said or did whatever created a problem for you.” Sometimes we may be unaware of a button we’re pushing or a wound we’re picking, but often those slights are not the result of ill intentions, but of having no intentions at all.

You probably know that identifying and attending to your emotions is a key to psychological well-being. But you might not know that identifying and attending to the feelings of others is a key to relationship well-being. You can’t grow a loving relationship without regard to the feelings of those for whom you care.

Conflict in a relationship arises when you focus your intentions entirely on your needs and ignore or dismiss your partner’s. You might not mean to hurt them, but when your mindfulness practice goes one way, your intentions don’t extend any love or concern to your partner.

Having a mindful relationship means deciding whether the connection is important to you and what you want from the other person, and then keeping that in mind when you communicate or are in conflict. If your intention is a loving, romantic partnership, all disagreements should be approached with love and partnership in mind.

Being mindful of your partner’s needs plays an important role in disagreements. Too often when we are in conflict, even with someone we love, we want only to win. We want the other person to change their behavior without us having to change a thing. We don’t mind a win-lose solution as long as we’re not the loser. Studies show that losses have a more significant psychological impact on us than wins do. Losing is an affront to our sense of self. But this attitude—win at all costs, or at least don’t lose—is toxic to relationships.

Does that mean for a partnership to work you have to be okay “losing” an argument sometimes? Not at all.

The win-lose scenario isn’t the only way to end a conflict. Try the win-win instead.

Winning a fight doesn’t always mean being right. If you get into an argument with your partner because you want to go to a party and they want to stay home and watch movies, one of you isn’t right and the other wrong. Pressuring your now-resentful partner into going to the party might feel like a win, but is it? A real win, the kind that lasts past one fight and makes your relationship stronger, is one in which your partner hears your point of view and addresses your needs or desires, and you do the same for them.

To address your partner’s needs, you have to practice mindfulness. You must be mindful of their boundaries and need for not just necessary physical requirements such as food and shelter but also for their emotional and psychological requirements, such as affection, acceptance, independence, and so on. There are some fundamental needs that virtually all people share, and they are crucial to keep in mind:

  • Respect:Respect is the basis of an emotionally healthy relationship. Respect your partner’s boundaries if you expect them to respect yours—and they should.
  • Time and attention:One of the most powerful ways to show your partner you love them is by giving them undivided time and attention.
  • Affection:Not only is physical affection an essential part of intimate relationships because it makes your brain release oxytocin, the “love hormone,” but studies show a link between affection deprivation and physical pain and poor sleep, which in turn increases negative emotions.
  • Approval:As a child, you seek approval from your caregivers and teachers; as an adult, you seek it from your loved ones. Simple compliments are easy to give and go far in building closeness and positive regard.
  • Security, predictability, and consistency:We all want a warm bed to come home to at the end of the day, a secure base we can retreat to. Your closest relationships should provide this base of support for you. In turn, you need to be there reliably for the people you love.
  • Autonomy and control:No matter how close you are to your partner, for the sake of your mental health and sense of self, you both need to maintain a separate identity. Your partner may sometimes have a priority that takes precedence over you, and that’s okay.

To create and maintain a loving relationship, decrease the frequency of conflict, and solve the conflicts that arise in a way that’s worthy of your partnership, you must be mindful of your partner’s needs and desires. For love to last, empathy must be a two-way street. No one can lose if everybody wins, and everybody wins when both of your needs and desires are treated with respect and validity.

If you are experiencing relationship issues and are wanting to know more about mindfulness, contact me for coaching in Portland.

© Copyright 2018 GoodTherapy.org.

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Boundaries-knowing your no (sneaking in anger)

How do you know what you want or don’t want? How do you let others know? How do you respond when others share their what they want or not?

Is Coaching for you?

This can cause a lot of disrupt in relationships. Often times people will see someone saying no as a rejection. Perhaps even sharing what they want could be seen by themselves or others as being selfish.

Portland area coaching for anger management.I see anger as a boundary emotion. It lets us know when something needs to stop or change. Yet, when we hold onto this anger/frustration/irritation/annoyance/etc, it festers and comes out typically as an argument or a lingering mood that can last several hours, days or months. I will also share this: yelling and anger are not the same thing. I think yelling happens when it festers.

What would life be like if that anger was noticed in the moment and something was either acknowledged by that person or even shared out loud. Now, wait a moment, if you are like a lot of people, you may say that is impossible or you simply couldn’t do that or what chaos would erupt if you allowed yourself to do that. Take a breath. I am talking about going inward and noticing and acknowledging. That in and of itself can make a huge difference. Wow, I feel angry (vexed, ill tempered, you use whatever word works) and noticing I had hoped you would do the dishes. Anger doesn’t equal blame, it can come out as blame, but they are not one in the same.

Homework if you choose to accept: take a moment when you notice yourself getting angry (agitated/ displeased/ huffy) to simply notice and acknowledge that. Then ask yourself what boundary have you or someone else stepped over. And what do you want around that? It may be an agreement with someone (your friend shows up late). A cultural agreement (a car speeds by you going 20 miles over the limit).

Contact for more information on Portland area coaching and talk to me about your desires for coaching.

This image is curtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net

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Holidays with Family

Your Deepest Roots Can Be Nurtured With Counseling

Often times when people are in therapy or coaching and working on different patterns, it can particularly troubling or difficult when they visit family and step right back into the same patterns. Family counseling offered for Portland area clients.

I tell my clients that family is often where the deepest roots are. Imagine trying to pull up a sapling. You could probably do it without any problem. Now think of a larger sapling, perhaps up to your knee. You would still most likely be able to do it easily. Now think of one larger, up to your head. You may need to put a little more into pulling it up. What about one that is about 3 inches in diameter. At this point, it will take longer. You will need to push, pull, maybe dig. I think you could probably do it although it will take time and effort, certainly more effort than the last several trees. Now imagine one that is 100 feet high. You may not be able to get your arms around it. This will take a significant amount of effort. You may ask others for help, use some tools. Even with the assistance, it will take longer than the first tree.

Now imagine these as your patterns. Family dynamics have been going on for years. These are like the 100 foot tree. Is it impossible to remove that tree. No, I wouldn’t do my job if I didn’t think it was possible.

A couple of things to remember when you are visiting family:

  1. Give yourself some compassion, even just a little. Do not expect automatic changes either from yourself or for your family. Go easy on yourself. Maybe you notice the pattern in a different way, even noticing the pattern at all is a significant change.
  2. Take time for yourself. In my world, self care is important. Especially when traveling and being out of your typical routine or zone. Get some fresh air, call a friend, ask for support from your significant other or a friend, take a walk, read a book.
  3. Plan ahead. Imagine where you may get caught up in the dynamics; for example it may be around a certain family ritual or a certain topic of conversation. This is a not a fail safe, although you may notice the pattern starting and planned to take a breath before responding or excuse yourself to go for a walk or even just to the bathroom or for your spouse to look at you or put their hand on your back.

I would love to hear how it went and what you did to support yourself in the journey. Contact me today to find out how I can help with therapy and counseling.

Photo compliments of samurai at freedigitialphotos.net

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Making Clear Agreements

This is a skill that I think is super helpful in life. Often times friends, intimate partners, or family members will have an idea of something. This is usually not said. Then when someone else has a different idea that is often not shared either, tension and arguments can ensue. Take for example coming home. One person may want space to take off their shoes, put their stuff away and take a moment to breath before greeting the other person. The other person comes in wanting the other to drop everything and give them a big hug, acknowledge that they arrived and are happy to see them. This is often not talked about which then can cause disrupts and irritation. You may expect something and have an agreement on your end and the other person wasn’t aware of the agreement. (Another of my favorites is when one person in a couple does something on a regular basis, then they stop and the other person gets upset, “But you always did that.”)

In Need of Couples Therapy in Portland?

What if you could make a clear agreement about what you wanted. What if it was actually ok to ask for what you want? The other person has the ability to say no. If it is not said it is not an agreement from both people.

Stepping Stone: (Instead of homework, since some people have a hard time with that word, esp teenagers) Share with someone else what you want and making a clear agreement that you both agree to. Do not agree if you don’t really want to, that is a set up for failure and broken agreements which breaks trust. Portland, Oregon Couples Therapy.

Example: Hey, I really like when you greet me at the door when I come home. What do you think about that?

Or: Hey I noticed that you push me away when I come up to say hi when you first come home, do you want some space before I say hi?

Work more on agreements with me for couples, family, or group therapy at my Portland office. Contact me to set up an appointment.

Photo compliments of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

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Contradictions

Contradiction, according to Google: “a combination of statements, ideas, or features of a situation that are opposed to one another.” Opposites, same source: “having a position on the other or further side of something; facing something, especially something of the same type.”

ID-10066173Sometimes we can have ideas, feelings, thoughts that feel totally at odds with each other. fFor example I can either accept the situation as it is and do nothing or reject it completely and make major changes, I can either have security or passion, I can either win or lose this argument, I can either be rigid or be in the flow. And we think, “How can these possible co-exist?” We feel stuck.

Try something out with me. In one hand put one of your statements. Feel it there. Does it have any movement, texture, color, sound? Be with it right now in this moment. Now in your other hand put the other statement. Notice the same. Now can your two hands holding these statements move and be in existence in each hand at the same time? Hold both simultaneously and notice what happens. Once you notice ease in this, perhaps have ID-100279435your two hands interact together. Move them closer together then farther apart. Have one hand try on the movement, feeling of the other hand and vice versa. Do you notice anything different in your experience of the two appearing contradictory statements?

 

 

 

Image curtesy of Ambro  and taesmileland from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Living as Art

I was talking with some people recently about strengths and being a visionary and an artist. I started thinking about art: life as art, the art of living, being art. Which is where the idea for this blog came in.

ID-100203610I was thinking about what to name it. There is already an Art of Living Foundation. I settled into Living as Art. What if we are a masterpiece in the creation? We are the art. We are the focus which looks different in different light, in different settings. We are not stagnant. We are not finished. We are evolving and changing.

 

ID-100146460Painters can start, paint over, cover up, change what they are working on. Aren’t we doing that all the time? I have
the intention to continue looking inward at the exploration which is my life, of my patterns, of what I create in my life or not. I adjust myself, I shift from stuck to possibilities, I express.

Exploration for thisID-100209562 week is to check out what looks like an amazing example of this called Exhibit: Growth. It is interactive. Art is created from your responses. ID-10047285How awesome is that?

Photos from Free Digital Photos

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Fix It. Fix me. Fix them.

Are you someone who sees themselves as a fix it project or sees other people as fix it projects? I see this a lot in couples therapy. “If you can just change that one thing, then I could be happy.” “If only you didn’t do that, my life would be so much easier.” Then when one thing is fixed something else needs fixing, you are ready to move on to the next thing. “Sure you pick up your dirty socks, what about doing some dishes/ more cleaning/ having more/ less sex.” The list can go on and on and on…

I also see this in individual therapy. “If I just changed (fill in the blank) then things would be better.” “If I didn’t do this annoying thing then I would like myself better.” Once some of the pounds come off, you want more off another area. You can always find something wrong.

What if (play along with me for a bit)- what if you/other people weren’t fix it projects? What if you/they are whole, just as they are? You may want to make changes and that is okay and you can still be loveable just are you/ they are. This may be a stretch, because I think we are taught to see what is wrong. Remember the two pictures and you had to see what didn’t match. This is how we often see ourselves in comparison to others, or our partner in comparison to other people’s partners. Play with this a bit and notice when you want to fix, change, adjust you or someone else and notice how you react to this.

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Top Tips to Sparkalicious Relationships Workshop

What are some of the essential skills for fabulous relationships? Come find out on February 25th at Umpqua Bank in the NE.
DATE: February 25th, 2010
TIME : 5:30-7pm
WHERE : Umpqua Bank
1448 NE Weidler
COST : Free; light snacks and beverages provided

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Relationship Toolbox Group Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday from 6-7:30 I run a group that focuses on tools that I think are great for improving relationships. It is interactive, dynamic, and fun.
DATE: Every Wednesday
TIME: 6-7:30pm
WHERE: Owl’s Nest North
COST: sliding scale $15-$25 per person

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