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Children Family

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Jennifer

Just Because you Think it , Doesn’t Mean it is True

I say this to myself daily.  The mind is illusional by nature. Us humans have the ability to “see” the same issue from many different angles.  All the angles are “correct”, just different.  I’m reminded of the tale of three blind men touching an elephant.  When an observer asks each of the blind men to describe this animal, the one touching the trunk says “this animal is long and round and moves up and down”.The blindman touching the body says “this animal is large and hard and solid”. The one touching the tail says “this animal is small and curly”.  They are all correct, but each one knew only a piece of the whole being which we call an Elephant.

We react to our thoughts through behavior and the emotions that the thoughts provoke.  We become involved and “sucked into” those thoughts as if they are the total reality. But we may be looking at only part of the whole matter under  consideration.  We respond to the world based on those thoughts.  Thoughts are powerful. It is actually difficult to NOT think.

Try this exercise:

Close your eyes and focus on your breath.  Notice the air coming in with every inhalation.  Notice the release of the breath each time you exhale. Become aware of the thoughts going through your mind.  Observe the birth of each thought.  Imagine the thought as a ship coming into the harbor, but don’t let it dock.  Be aware of the sensations and emotions that arise throughout.  Another ship will be right behind it.  Go back tofocusing on your breath.  Notice the sensations in your body.

Try this exercise daily. You will be practicing several things: observing your thoughts, connecting with your mind/body experience, letting go of thoughts, awareness of the kind of thoughts you tend to have. 

Say to yourself “Just because you think it, doesn’t mean it is true”.

START BELIEVING THAT THOUGHT.

Codependency

Codependency means different things to different people.  To me, codependency suggests a state in which a person experiences a sense of self identification only when he or she uses the views or feelings of another person. Typically, a codependent person will abandon his/ her own viewpoints (not even know what they are) in favor of those of another person.

 

This is a problem because the codependent person never experiences a true sense of self.  In general, people cannot achieve fulfillment in life without developing a strong sense of who they are, what they feel and think.  A feeling of unfulfillment always signifies the need for some kind of change.  I am optimistic about a person’s ability to change.

 

When we want to make changes, we need:

-Awareness and acknowledgement that there is a problem. Nothing in life is permanent. Change is inevitable.

-Love and acceptance of ourselves as we are now.  We don’t have to love our behavior to accept our behavior.  Conscious change doesn’t happen without acceptance of what is.

-Nurturing- We are human which means we make mistakes and are not perfect.  We need to learn to take care of ourselves as we are with our “imperfections”.

-Validation0 Awareness, acceptance, love and nurturing are stepping stones to self validation.  Visualize positive things you see about yourself. Look in the mirror and find what you physically life about yourself. Remember to be mindful of these positive thoughts throughout your day.

-Read and research about codependency. The internet is a good resource. I recommend “Codependency No More” by Melody Beattie.

There is hope. Find your voice. When you do so, you will be able to learn what fulfills you in life and live a more satisfying one.

 

 

SHOULD WE STAY TOGETHER FOR THE SAKE OF THE KIDS?

Marital discord and concerns about divorce involve multi-faceted issues. There is no recipe for answers to the innumerable questions which arise- each situation must be considered within its own context.  There are however, some general approaches which everyone in this process tends to ask.  Here we consider this question about the children.  Here too, issues are not simple and require understanding of specifics. However, it is vital to remember the following suggestions.

Many people who consult me during a marital conflict try to remain in their marriage while seeking guidance. They are looking for creative ways to learn the skills of self-awareness, communication and mature interaction in their relationships.  Other people consult me when they already know that there is so much “water under the relationship bridge” that the bridge is flooded. However, being loving and caring parents they are hesitant to break up the family for fear that this would have a devastating impact on the children.

This is a profound and meaningful concern.

However, keeping a family intact solely for the reason to NOT devastate the children assumes that the children are unaware of the existing issues between their parents. Most children FEEL the difficult atmosphere. When children feel that the very foundation of the family is “shaky”, they are already LIVING IN FEAR. (Don’t kid yourself- children of all ages pick up SOMETHING, even if they do not or cannot understand how to interpret the information!!!) They make up stories to fill in the blanks of stories that are even worse than the realities. These inaccurate perceptions cause problems of behavior, school issues, depression, anxiety, etc.

BE YOUR CHILD’S THERAPIST…let me make a suggestion!

I SUGGEST THAT HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY.   START NOW to develop honest, open communication with you children in an age-appropriate fashion.

Sit the children down individually and ask such questions as “What does it feel like for you when mommy and daddy fight?”

OR- if the children are too young to express their responses directly, role play with stuffed animals. For example; “The mommy and daddy animals are fighting (act out the fight), what is going to happen? ” Then let the child act out with the animal what happens next. Let them enact the brehavior of each of the animals, while you watch and listen to see what they bring up in words or actions. Then you can address each of the issues which they have expressed in the play acting and you can guide them toward some realistic problem solving or just accepting their feelings.

BE AWARE that children think that they are the ones who make things happen. This is called “magical thinking” They usually perceive the problems as their “fault”. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO REASSURE THEM that what is going on between mommy and daddy is not their fault. They need to understand that people sometimes argue and need to work it out between themselves somehow.

As for whether or not to keep the marriage intact…today the question is not whether you should stay together, but rather to consider how you can deal with the conflics and issues; and how you deal with the children as they live with this daily experience. If you decide to divorce, make sure your children do not feel that you are abandoning and divorcing THEM emotionally.

THEY ARE THE PRIMARY CONSIDERATION IN THIS PROCESS. Parents overlook this or may not realize this. They are often challenged by their own pain.

Children need to see you calm and steady. Such a stance will send a message of security and caring for them. 

Nurturing Your Inner Child:

Close your eyes. Imagine yourself as a child. How old are you? What do you look like? What are you wearing? Who are you living with? Can you identify with that child? How does that feel at this moment? How do you feel as you  connect with her/him? What does this child need from you at this moment?  What is the child emotionally missing? What is interfering with her/him getting what she/he needs? This child needs your compassion. Try visualizing him/her everyday at least once a day. As you perform this daily exercise-take note of yourself as well as of the child. How are you feeling, physically, during the visualization? What sensations are going through your body?  At tend to these sensations- in what part (or parts) of your body are you experiencing them? What types of sensations are they? Can you describe them? Are they dull, sharp, nagging, painful, exciting, exhausting? Do these feelings remain in one part of your body, or do they move around? Do they change forms? What words would these sensations arouse in you? What messages do they suggest? The purpose of this exercise is for you to connect with this “inner child”. The child within you. You need to learn to offer him/her your empathy and compassion. We all want and need to be loved; the love and nurturing we seek is within ourselves.

  Remember the Wizard of Oz? If you need to seek your heart’s desire beyond your own backyard- you never had it to begin with.

Children moving on…….

Tomorrow, I go to my oldest daughter’s graduation from GRADUATE school. .GRADUATE SCHOOL?  When did that happen? What does this mean to my family? Are we breaking up? Will I ever see her again?  Lots of questions going through my mind right now. I work with lots of families. Eventually, children move on. College, after college,  jobs, relocation….marraige, grandchildren, need I go on? The one thing in life you can count on is “change”.  It is difficult for all of us to face “change”. It challenges our very being. I like to reframe this “children moving on” thing as “families in transition and growth”. The dysfunctional version of this is “how can I hang on longer and not let you go so fast”.  The functional version is “our family is a circle, you do what you need to do and there will always be a place for you when you want to come back in”. So, think about what that means in your family. Perhaps your child is starting Kindergarten instead of graduating GRADUATE SCHOOL. It has a similar meaning. Your family is in transition. It is a crisis for the family and for the child. It is the child’s job to separate and the parent’s responsibility to make room for that separation. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to  feel the loss and  rejoice in your child’s successes and happiness. Keep your heart open so that healthy growth will find it’s way in.