Pearls of Wisdom
Through my training and experience I have learned a lot about human nature and patterns of behavior. I talk to clients about these dynamics in most of my sessions. As a matter of fact, I say some of these things so often, that I can’t remember which client I have told what. I’ll often start by saying, please let me know if I have told you this. Thus I thought I’d share these pearls of wisdom with you. My hope is that they will help you or someone you love.
Wisdom on family dynamics
Family systems are like well-greased wheels
Everyone knows how everyone else will react/behave. Some of these dynamics are spoken and sometimes unspoken. These dynamics can be functional or dysfunctional. If they are dysfunctional, you can change the dynamics by changing how you typically behave. No one likes it when the family dynamics change. What will happen is the person you are interacting will escalate their behavior. It may be by screaming, yelling or calling you names. Maybe they make you feel guilty. However, if you stick to your guns, eventually that person’s behavior will extinguish. It may be very uncomfortable for you to go through this process. However, if you give in to their escalation, you have now taught them that they just need to throw a fit and you will do what they want.
Same old conflict
If you are stuck in the same old conflict with a partner or family member, ask yourself what piece you place in it. Conflict takes 2 people, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you no longer react (or change the way you react), it will throw the other person off balance. As a result, they will also be forced to act differently.
Childhood patterns of behavior
You may have learned some patterns of behavior in childhood that kept you safe and alive. They were functional at that time in life. However, people take these patterns of behavior and use them in their adult life and they may no longer be functional. An example might be that someone grew up in a household where their parents were always yelling and screaming at each other. The child may have gone into the closet and put a pillow over their head. This makes them feel safe, as they don’t hear what is going on downstairs. If this is taken into adulthood and the person goes into the closet whenever there is conflict this is no longer effective behavior.
Wisdom on Boundaries
It’s OK to say No
It’s OK to say No if you don’t want to do something or you think it goes against your values. Perhaps you have too much on your plate or you feel that this person takes advantage of you. You can let them know that you have another commitment. It may be your commitment to stay home and read a book, watch TV, or whatever you want. The other person doesn’t need to know that.
You don’t have to spend time with people just because they invite you
Just because someone asks you to spend time with him or her doesn’t mean you have to. Some people are just toxic, or maybe you don’t feel good about yourself after spending time with them. Maybe you feel they always one up you, or lead a lifestyle that isn’t for you.
Boundaries are not to make others happy, they are to keep you safe
Some people won’t like it if you set new a healthy boundary. They may give you are hard time for it, or may not want to be around you anymore. You may lose some relationships over this. However, anyone who is a true friend will respect your new boundaries and not make you do anything you don’t want to do. The ones that leave are the toxic people and you are better off without them in your life.
You can decrease time you spend with family
It is OK to cut off or spend less time with toxic family members. This is a little more challenging, as we also love these people. Some examples might be if someone texts or calls you 10 times repeatedly if you don’t respond to their messages. He or she might be emotionally or verbally abusive. Maybe they use drugs and alcohol and you have no desire to talk to them or be around them when they are under the influence. You might need to set firm boundaries and let them know if they are drunk or high you will tell them that you are not willing to talk them when they are slurring their words. Perhaps you need to block their number for a while. Remember, this is about taking care of you and your own mental health.
Wisdom on Anxiety
Fight or flight
We will never get rid of all our anxiety. We are wired for it. It’s part of our fight or flight system and keeps us alive. When we are faced with a life-threatening situation this part of our nervous system will kick into gear. However for some people this is activated in non-threatening situations such as getting on an airplane and leads to panic attacks.
Anxiety management isn’t about getting rid of anxiety; it’s more about learning how to turn down the dial of intensity of that anxiety. You can learn to live with it and still do the things you want or need to do.
Anxiety is like waves
Anxiety is like waves. Sometimes they are small little ripples that you barely notice. Other times they are a little stronger and make us sway in the water. Then there are those times they just crash over you and throw you down. However, just like waves, the intensity of the anxiety doesn’t last forever. Learn to ride the wave of anxiety, don’t fight it and you will be better able to handle it.
You are not crazy
Anxiety may make you feel like you are going crazy. As a matter of fact, if someone asks me the question, “Am I crazy?” I let them know that by definition they are not. If you ask it, you are aware and have insight into the situation.
These are just some pearls of wisdom I share with all my clients. Next week I will share even more words of wisdom. If you are struggling in one area of your life or another, give me a call at 713-304-6554 and we can help you get back on track.