How to Recover From A Breakup, The Healthy Way

How to Recover from a Breakup in the Healthiest Way

(Published here.)

I think the most important thing to remember when going through a breakup is that it is a loss. Allow yourself to grieve. Give yourself time to feel the pain, go through the hurt, and let go of attachments, dependencies, hopes, dreams, and fantasies. Feel all of the anger, sadness, bargaining, denial, and shock as you process this relationship ending. This will take time, and will involve many complex emotions.

Make sure to use your coping mechanisms to help you sort through these emotions and manage them healthfully. Dealing with emotions of loss (and hurt, and anger and anything else that has come up in your relationship) can be hard, and can cause us to react in unhealthy ways which will only prolong our pain and prevent healing. In your grief and upset, do be aware of your unhealthy patterns and try to create new patterns of coping. Make sure to get the support that you need in this time, be it from a friend, family member, community support, clergy, or therapist. Honor and respect your emotions, but be mindful of your relationship to them and your relationship patterns and dynamics. Support yourself in feeling your emotions and healing through them in positive ways that have worked in the past.

As you feel yourself move through your grief, engage in positive activity to help yourself to start to feel better. Try to think positively, challenge negative thoughts, and have perspective about the meaning of this time in your life. Try to use positive action to increase positive feelings, engage in meaningful activity and do things that bring you happiness and fulfillment in you.

Reflect and reframe, by looking at your relationship and taking time to learn about yourself in your relationships. What can you see in examining past dynamics and connections? Is there a pattern to your attachments? How can you see this as a time of rebirth, a time of building your relationship with yourself, and of fostering independence? How can you see this as a time of evolution, healing, and building? Know that it is, and know that this is a time to reconnect with yourself separately from your relationships, which can feel so hard, but is so important to self love and healthy future relationships.

Lisa Resnick, EdM, LPC

Lisaresnicktherapy.com

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How to Forgive Yourself

How to Forgive Yourself as published here.

If we want to forgive, we must first identify what we are upset about, why we are upset, and what the meaning of our upset is. If we are responsible for this situation, then we also need to find a way to accept what has happened and move on. This can be easier or harder depending on the situation, your level of involvement and how self-critical you are.

Considering these things, I find it helpful to sit with my emotions, write, draw, walk, or engage in some activity that helps me get into my head and be with my thoughts. Once there I try to understand my emotions, their roots, and what would help them to be soothed. Often when we make mistakes we cannot let go of some aspect of the situation and in holding onto that we prevent progress (or acceptance) due to resistance of some form.

Instead of invalidating ourselves it can be very helpful to take responsibility for our behavior, and to also acknowledge to ourselves the reasons that we acted how we did. While reasons do not justify, we often have very real reasons we took the action that we did.

Instead of beating yourself up, try loving that part of yourself that is imperfect, and give it the space to grow without judgment. Have compassion for your humanness and do not criticize yourself for your regrets. Know that in acknowledging this part of yourself, non-judgementally, that you can begin to change it

Try to have patience and understanding with your process of growth as a person and don’t forget that this lifetime is a never ending education. Try to challenge your self-expectations of perfection, and trust in yourself to manage all actions, both success and failure. Remind yourself that you are not alone in your human condition, and that there is no one way to actually “get it right”.

Forgive yourself for whatever you have done, and try to see that all of your experiences, no matter how you judge them, contribute to who you are and your strengths as a person. Know that whatever distress you feel at present will fade with time, acceptance, and progress. Allow yourself to be human and to make mistakes.

How To Silence Your Inner Critic

Read the full article as published here, or below with links to resources and more information.

1. Education

Understand that the origins of your negative thinking lie in a self-protection mechanism, the fight or flight response, serving to alert you to any potential danger. This is a normal part of our biology and survival instincts rooted in caveman times. We no longer face prehistoric dangers, and yet our mind continues to detect and alert us to any perceived threats to our safety. Today these threats are often emotional, and can FEEL more dangerous than they are.

2. Acceptance and Self Compassion

Once you know that this is a normal part of yourself, you can stop fighting it and work to accept it. Begin to realize that it is a part of everyone, a part of you that deserves compassion, and something that through awareness you can address.

3. Insight and awareness

Now that you know why this occurs and work to accept it, you can create space to identify what it is you are telling yourself and start to challenge that. Sometimes we have created a narrative about ourselves throughout life to criticize ourselves around, other times we are simply self-critical. Whatever the case, figure out what you are telling yourself, and where it is rooted, so that you can start to deconstruct and change it.

4. Action

Once you identify your negative thought patterns and their origins, you can take action to challenge thoughts. A few different suggestions for angles that you can take are listed below.

Use Positive Psychology to focus on the positive, identify your strengths, or do things that help you to feel good about yourself.

Use Self Expression to release the negativity and use it constructively, or share with others.

Use Thought related techniques including writing positive affirmations, reciting mantras, challenging negative self-talk.

Use Self-exploration to learn what you need to love yourself and accept yourself for who you are no matter what you learned in life or the experiences that you have.

It is crucial to love, honor and appreciate yourself in this lifetime and to find ways to let go of ego, self-criticism and judgment to increase satisfaction. There is no reason for us to criticize ourselves as we are all imperfectly perfect in our humanness, and destined for unique glory.

Lisa Resnick, LPC, LMHC, CHHC – www.Lisaresnicktherapy.com

How To Say No Without Feeling Guilty Or Being Mean

It can be so hard for us to say no and set boundaries with others for so many reasons, although it is important in life that we be able to be assertive and voice our opinions comfortably, without being too passive or too aggressive.  Below are some of the barriers that keep us from speaking up for ourselves, and some ways that you can work to push through them.  I hope that everyone can achieve a place of confidence within themselves to feel free to speak their minds honestly, openly, unapologetically, and KINDLY.

Entitlement sometimes we do not feel entitled to have an opinion, we feel we don’t deserve what we want, or that we have to consider the feelings of others.  Well, if someone else’s feelings are important and to be considered than so are yours.  People who do not feel entitled often do not believe they deserve the things that they give to others, and so it is hard for them to ask for what they want and say no when they want to, because they have talked themselves out of believing they can follow their own feelings.  Some don’t even know how they feel anymore because they have told their feelings to hibernate so that the feelings of others can be honored.  There are lots of reasons that people can feel this way, but it is important to feel that your feelings are valuable, valid, and deserve to be expressed.  Entitlement is about self care and knowing what we deserve as humans (respect and love amongst other things).  So feel entitled to saying no, and know that you deserve to have what works for you in life.  You are allowed to honor you above another.

Approval of others/acceptance Sometimes we want others to like and accept us and so we go along with what they want.  Often we don’t feel entitled to have it any other way, and believe that we need to give of ourselves to another to build a bondWhat we don’t realize is that anyone who is truly a friend will understand and want to hear and respect our feelings, so if we don’t want to do something it should be okay with them.  Real relationships are accepting and unconditional, and although fears of acceptance and rejection are so common, it is important to remember that a real friend will be okay with no.  Someone who is truly invested in knowing you will not be swayed by a simple no.

Selfishness I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a person say that they didn’t want to say no because they didn’t want to be selfish.  When will we learn that self-care is not selfish, and that selflessness is extremely destructive to confidence and identityIt is not just okay, but essential that we say our side and express how we feel, because no one else is going to do it for us, and life often does not give us anything.  If we don’t protect ourselves from being treated unfairly and against our comfort, than who will?  As people we need to feel confident in ourselves to protect ourselves, and if we think it is selfish to do so, we will always struggle to feel secure in ourselves and relationships.  It is okay to stand up for yourself and to express your feelings, even when they go against the wishes of someone else. 

Values Our values are our rules and expectations that we bring into relationships of all kinds that are often rooted in our families and their dynamics.  We all learn different things about saying no and what happens when we are assertive with our feelings, and often these lessons mold how we interact in the present.  We also learn about gender roles, communication, and conflict from our families and reactions to all of these components influences our ability to say no while feeling comfortable, especially if we were guilted into giving up our wants or manipulated into feeling wrong for our opinions.  Unfortunately we often have to explore and learn to let go of family conditioning to improve our ability to be assertive.

Assertiveness/Conflict Being assertive involves being able to express our opinions and feelings with power and confidence but without being mean.  Being assertive involves finding a way to express yourself that is NOT IN ANGER.  Communication in anger leads to conflict and does not actually accomplish communicating, but being assertive involves speaking up for yourself with force, but without anger.  Anger arises in assertiveness when resentment is present.  Fear arises if you fear conflict and have not had positive experiences with confrontation.  Any situation involving assertiveness feels like a possible situation for conflict for many, and so they avoid being assertive.  Often when we avoid being assertive our underlying emotions build up and we become angry and resentful, and if ever our concerns come to confrontation we blow up out of held onto resentment. 

 

As published on Personal Development Cafe.

How to Break Up Gracefully

Breakups are hard no matter the situation.  No matter how we feel we often want to say goodbye in a way that respects our feelings, respects our partner’s feelings, and allows things to end with closure, gracefully.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Find a way to put a positive spin on whatever you say.  Honesty is important, but so is consideration.
  • Be kind, be appreciative of the experiences you shared, and of what you learned.  No matter how bad things may feel at present, remember that there once was good and to honor that.
  • Be nice.  We want to be mean but what will that achieve? Nothing. Being graceful means letting go of anger and resentment and walking forward with your head held high.  Being mean and nasty will only lower you to his level (if indeed he even deserves your wrath, which he may not).
  • Appreciate things for what they are, for their uniqueness, for what they give you and for where they take you. Love that relationships can be for a season, a reason, and can have varied purposes in our lives.  With this knowledge we accept the flux of relationships, allow for flexibility, and cope with letting go when relationships reach their end.
  • Express your emotions, as long as it can be from a place of productivity and not a place of blame or negativity.  If you can help someone to better understand who they are in a relationship, they may have greater success in their next coupling.  Don’t forget that each partner is responsible for the relationship, and no one is perfect!
  • Be considerate and sensitive.  Even if you no longer like this person, they do deserve decency, so be considerate of what they may be feeling in this situation.  Have compassion for them, and think of how you would like to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot.
  • Do not break up with someone by phone, text, or email, unless that is your only option.  Break up with someone respectfully by doing it in person.  It can be difficult to cause someone hurt (or maybe not) but it takes a real woman/person to be honest and deal with the emotional effects of that honesty.

Remember that endings can also be beginnings, and that when you close one door another opens. Your future dating adventures are full of possibility.

Whatever you do, do with love and wonder as what you put out into the universe comes back to you!

As published here.

What to do if you are being strung along…

If you feel yourself being strung along in a relationship, I think the first things to ask yourself is why?

What is it that is keeping him from moving forward, and what is it about this individual that allows you to wait for what you want (and likely deserve)?

In every relationship we have to accept the fact that we cannot control our partners, and so with this knowledge in mind, we have to remember that we cannot change someone else, or push them to be where we are in the relationship, we have to let them be where they are… but what if that brings up uncomfortable emotions in us?  Or what if we have been waiting a very long time?

It then may be a good time to take stock of who that person is, how you feel, and if there is a fit between the two.  Often people say things that they either do not mean, or mean but cannot achieve, and so it is important to consider if what you want, and are waiting for is something this person realistically wants to and can give to you.  Instead of going by a person’s words, it is important to look at their actions and values.  If it seems realistic for you to get what you want, then patience is key.  If it seems like this person may not mean what they say, then it is important to look to yourself and your reasons for being in a dynamic that may not live up to your needs and wants.

We don’t want to make assumptions, jump to conclusions, or project our realities onto others as that can be damaging to a relationship, but we also do not want to stay blind to the realities of the situation remaining in waiting while what we want never comes to fruition.

A quick discussion about what you want can clear up any miscommunication, however if the person you are involved with is unable to express themselves, or gets defensive, sometimes knowledge about what to expect can be hard to achieve.  Sometimes it takes a confrontation to help someone truly understand what you want, but what if you’ve expressed it and are still waiting around?

Look to yourself.  Are you really patient?  Are you being considerate of your partner?  Are your expectations realistic?  How does this relate to your relationship patterns and dynamics?  Are you attracted to unavailable partners and if so how come?  How do your emotions relate to the (negative) things you usually tell yourself about love and romance?

We often unintentionally go after a person that will recreate difficult relationships from the past.  We are often guided by our egos in relationships, and need to check our motivations and wants.  We also make assumptions about others that are inaccurate, so it is important to be aware of these things and to know how they may play out in your current situation.

With this awareness it can then be helpful to know what is your part of the situation and what is your partners.  If this individual feels like the right partner, appears to fit your needs and acts in ways that live up to your expectations, than considering patience may be of crucial importance.  If this individual does not appear to fit your wants and is unable to live up to your realistic expectations than you may want to question your ongoing involvement in a relationship that does not live up to what you need.  Often we remain in an unsatisfying relationship for many reasons, and it is important to look at if this is something you may be doing.  The evil we know can be more comfortable than trying something new, but remember that staying in a relationship that does not fit you (and where there are no signs or possibility of progress) keeps you from finding the relationship that will nourish and fulfill you.

That said relationships are complicated, in no way simple, and unique to each couple.  Take what fits you from above, but remember that your relationship is yours and only you know the goods and the bads within it.  There should be more of the good than the bad, but at the end of the day it is your decision about what you want that is all that matters.  Treat yourself well by making good decisions, respecting yourself, and by managing struggles as they arise (because they will even in the most compatible relationships).

 

Published online here.

Stress Management 101!

STRESS 101: What it is, How it effects your body, and How to manage it!

Stress is the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it which requires the body to adapt, and is an automatic and immediate response.   Frightening stressful experiences can result in PTSD or anxiety conditions.

  •   Stress can be positive and motivating (called Eustress) or it can be negative and an obstacle (Distress).
  •   Stress can be short term or it can be chronic, which can then exceed our physical adaptive capacity and lead to health and emotional problems.

The Stress Response occurs in stages:

  •   Alarm (awareness of possible stressor and identification of threat)
  •   Resistance (adaptation occurs and either the stressor is resolved and the body returns to homeostasis OR stress continues and resources are depleted creating Exhaustion)
  •   Exhaustion (demands of stress exceed individual’s ability to adapt and functioning declines resulting in mental or physical symptoms).

This response has many biological and chemical components which will not be described in detail here, however it is important to know the basics!  Biologically our bodies react to stress by producing hormones (adrenaline, cortisol etc.) that trigger our survival response and tell our bodies to “fight or flee”.  Our bodies begin to take action to protect themselves through a whole series of physical reactions (quickened heartbeat, faster breathing, tensed muscles etc.) that will allow us to either “fight or flee” for survival.  Chronic stress can tire the body and can cause physical difficulties (like adrenal fatigue), making it important to understand and manage stress.  For a full description of the biological and chemical aspects of stress please look here.  (Biology of stress) (Adrenal Fatigue)

Stress Symptoms include:

  •   Physical (increased BP, HR, respirations, somatic symptoms, decreased immune response)
  •   Mental (decreased concentration, comprehension, and memory)
  •   Emotional (fear, anxiety, depression, fatigue)
  •   Behavioral (irritability, withdrawal, violence, substance use)

Stress can lead to many concerns of the mind, body, and spirit as well as interfere with daily life.

Stress Causes are internal or external “triggers”

  •  External stressors include: physical environment, social interactions, organizational limitations, major life events, and daily hassles
  •   Internal stressors include: lifestyle choices, negative self-talk or criticism, psychological defense mechanisms aka mind traps, or stressful personality traits

Take a look at your stressors, are they external to you and outside of your control, or are they internal?

 

How to manage stress:

Begin by doing the things that you know will help you feel better.  Engage in self-care by doing things that you enjoy, make you feel good, and highlight your talents and uniqueness.  This will decrease stress and increase self-esteem! Build your positive personal resources!

Create safety and security by making sure you have your basic self-care needs met such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, decorating your space, staying hydrated, getting physical activity, attending to hygiene, managing your medical health, and having social support.  Knowing that we can care for ourselves can help us trust in ourselves to manage whatever obstacles we face.

Have fun and take time for your hobbies.  Learn something new, or build upon skills that you already have.  Spend time with people who make you feel good about you and who will support you through hard times.

Relax! Pay attention to your needs and wants (body, mind, and heart), reward yourself for your efforts, meditate and use relaxation exercises, and make a point of treating yourself well EVERY DAY!

Find ways to express your emotions, use Mindfulness to be aware of your negative thoughts and their influence upon your emotions, and work to challenge and change thoughts to positive.  Positivity exercises include writing in a gratitude journal, creating an ongoing positive affirmation list to recite, repeating a positive mantra (I am tough, I can handle anything), or engaging in self-compassion exercises (see self-compassion.org).

Change lifestyle habits: less caffeine, sugar, alcohol.  Eat a well-balanced diet with lots of veggies and fruit.  Eat less junk food.  Eat slowly.  Make meal time a special time.  Exercise frequently and regularly.  Get enough sleep.  Relax and take time for leisure.

Change situations: manage time and finances, be assertive and set boundaries, work to problem solve, know when to leave a situation that is not worth the stress.

Change your thinking: Be positive, create opportunities out of problems, challenge negative and self-critical thoughts, have a sense of humor, increase self-compassion.

Resources

Stress: www.stress.org, www.selyeinstitute.com,

Anxiety and PTSD www.NIMH.com

Andrenal Fatigue: www.adrenalfatigue.com, www.mercola.com,

Self-Compassion http://www.self-compassion.org

Self-Esteem Workbook http://www.samhsa.org

Self Help Resources: www.mindtools.com, www.help-guide.org, www.crufad.com,

How to Find a Therapist

Many people only consider the cost and their insurance coverage when choosing a therapist, but it is important to find someone who is a good fit for you as it will determine the progress you make in healing.

A core part of the change that is made in the therapy process relates to the quality of the therapy relationship, for the greater the trust between therapist and client, the safer the environment, allowing the client to challenge themselves securely to change, grow, and explore emotions deeply.  If you do not trust in your therapist and feel emotionally safe in session, you will be less able to address the reasons you entered therapy.  Make sure you feel that you can trust the therapist you choose.  This means taking into consideration the traits in others that you feel are trustworthy, and seeking a therapist with those traits.  This also means taking into consideration the kinds of support you need and types of challenges that you find motivating.  Some people want more empathy and support, while others want confrontation and straightforwardness in their interactions (a good therapist should be able to balance both).  If you know yourself in your relationships, it will help you to know the kind of personality style your therapist should have.

The other thing to consider is your therapist’s theoretical orientation, or how they view emotional concerns.  Some therapists consider childhood and the psyche only, some therapists focus on thoughts and behaviors, some family and relationships, some therapists incorporate eastern techniques like meditation, some role playing and confrontation, and others art therapy, nutrition, or narration.  There are many schools of therapy today, and it can be helpful to know how your therapist will view and treat your concerns before you meet with them.  A list of therapies and their philosophies can be found here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_psychotherapies.

So where then would you start the process of looking? I think many people find therapists through word of mouth and online.  Web sites like psychologytoday.com have therapists listed by area, specialty, orientation, and usually have a biography attached so that you can get a feel for the therapist.  Some people may choose to go to a mental health clinic, health clinic, or counseling school for free or sliding scale services and often in these situations you will not have the ability to choose your therapist, however you will be able to request a different therapist if you do not feel the fit is right.  Attached to this is a list of mental health and medical clinics that will be able to assist you if you either do not have health insurance and need low fee services, or will accept city insurance.

If your concerns are urgent and you are thinking of harming yourself or someone else, than you will want to contact your local Crisis Response Center or call 911.  There is a list of CRC’s attached to this as well. 

Once you find a therapist who you are interested in (this is in many ways like dating) you will want to reach out to them via phone or email to express your interest in meeting.  Many therapist will offer a free consultation at this point, to allow you to ask questions and to get a feel for the therapeutic dynamic.  Some clients feel comfortable enough with the initial email correspondence that they do not need the phone consultation, but feel free to get as much information as you need to make the decision about who you feel most comfortable with helping you with your emotions.

Going to therapy can be a very scary process for people (for so many reasons!) and it is important to find a therapist who knows this and can help you to feel less afraid.  That said therapy can be a difficult thing (exploring painful emotions), and can take its time, but the healing achieved is often more than worth it, and clears blockages to future progress.  Therapy is as much the responsibility of the client as it is of the therapist, and if you are not willing or ready to be fully honest and trust in the process than it will be hard for much progress to occur and last, no matter the talents of your therapist.

So choose your therapist wisely, but first and foremost know yourself, where you are in your process of emotional healing, and if you are ready to go further.

How Not To Lose Yourself In A Relationship

How Not to Lose Yourself in a Relationship as published on Personal Development Cafe.

It can be so tempting to get wrapped up in a new romance and forget about single living, but it is important to honor your independence and identity while in a relationship.  We want to maintain our hobbies, lifestyles, friendships and other independent aspects of life so that we can still care for ourselves.  Our partners, or any singular other individual, can never meet all of our needs.

It is important for the health of your relationship that you and your partner are interdependent, not codependent, and are able to exist as individuals, not just as a part of a coupled whole.  If you rely on your partner for your entire identity and emotional needs it will put a lot of pressure on your partner and on your relationship.  As adults we need to be able to sustain ourselves individually no matter our relationship status.

I encourage you to focus on what is important in your life and on the things that you need as an individual to be happy.  These are things you will want to hold onto as your relationship grows and evolves.

Make sure to maintain the friendships that you have for support!  Remember that each relationship plays a different role in your life, and that your partner may not be able to be the friend to you that your best friend is.

Don’t stop doing the things you enjoy!  Do not give up your interests, as your partner’s interests will not nourish you intellectually.  There may be barriers or extra effort required, but it is important that you are able to do the things that make you feel good and alive individually, as you deserve it!

I know sometimes people jump into a relationship because of feelings of loneliness, and it can certainly feel wonderful to have a companion, however it is important that we all can spend time with ourselves, and that we are able to be “alone”.  Time with ourselves is unlike any other time, in that we get to focus on self-care, build a spiritual connection with ourselves, and allow for self-exploration.  Being able to be alone is a key way to enrich our relationship with our self.  In order to be truly happy, the most important relationship to have is the one with yourself.  Be secure in your self-love, and you will never find yourself insecure with others.

It is important to continue having a similar social life to the one you had prior to entering a relationship.  We do not want to change who we are to be in a relationship, we want to be us and to have another person join us where we are, so keep being where you are, and doing what you like to do!

A relationship should not change you, except for the better, and should not require you to become someone new.  We do all have to make compromises in relationships, but we should not have to compromise who we are.  To be in a healthy and happy relationship maintenance of independence and identity are so crucial.  To have a good relationship with others, we must first start with a good relationship with our self.

How To Ask For What You Want From Your Partner

Find the article online here.

How to ask for what you want is often about two separate components: communication and self-confidence.

We have to believe we deserve whatever we are asking for, and feel self-confident in making our requests.  Many of us tend to deny ourselves the opportunity to ask for what we want because we don’t want to impose, be inconsiderate, be selfish etc.  But it is important to encourage ourselves to speak up with confidence in our voices, and feel empowered to treat ourselves to what we deserve.  Respect yourself as much as you respect your partner and make sure to consider yourself and your feelings by asking for what you want.  Your partner always has the ability to say no (and this is the most important detail to remember)!  You cannot remove anyone’s power (nor they yours) without their (or your) allowance.

Another part of asking for what you want is finding comfortable ways to communicate with your partner.  Once you believe you deserve to get what you want, you can start working to find your comfortable language to be assertive.  Often I make a request while sharing how I feel, so I try to avoid you statements while speaking of how I feel or what I would like and why.  I also ask my partner how they would feel if… to find out where they stand about the things I desire.  I make sure to listen to their response, and consider what I am willing to fight for, and what I can let go of.  I make sure to ask my questions or express my thoughts, and then wait for my partner to discuss their reaction to my request in their own time.  


Know you deserve whatever it is you desire and find a comfortable way to ask for it that shares why it is meaningful to you.  Sometimes it can be very hard to speak up for ourselves and feel entitled to what we want, but often our partners are happy to take care of us if they understand how to! 

Lisa Resnick, MA, EdM, LMHC

www.lisaresnicktherapy.com