All too often people experience the shock factor of hoarding instead of meeting the person behind the stuff. Media feeds our voyeuristic tendencies and shows extreme cases of people living among various stages of decomposition and filth. At times this may be the case, but this is far from the whole story, and unfortunately this story perpetuates the shame that permeates a hoarded home and the family involved.
Hoarding is a mental health disorder. Let me say that again, hoarding is a MENTAL HEALTH disorder, it is not as simple as a choice to keep or not keep things. 2-5% of Minnesotans struggle daily with Hoarding, and even more struggle with the effects of hoarding, since they interact with a person who hoards on a regular basis.
Often hoarding behaviors are tied to grievous losses of loved ones and dreams. The truth is, this is not just about a lot of stuff, this is a person struggling to cope, and coping in the best way they know how.
People who struggle with hoarding need support, and empathy instead of the shame and judgement that they most often receive. This month is Hoarding Awareness month in Minnesota. Please take a moment to reduce the shame of hoarding by pledging to be compassionate to those struggling with the challenging circumstances they face every day. Join me, by taking the Empathy Pledge, and become part of the solution today.
Together we can make a difference!http://thehoardingproject.org/home/minnesota-hoarding-task-force
Have you ever done something stupid? Not the this is all my fault I made a bad choice kind of stupid, but instead the mindless, my body was acting, and did the wrong thing in the wrong moment kind.
Recently I saw a clip of a person on television accidentally drinking nail polish remover, instead of taking a drink out of the water bottle next to the nail polish remover. Now, this is an unconscious act that could have dangerous consequences. Right on the bottle it says, if ingested drink plenty of fluids and contact poison control. But this was by no means a thought out act of stupidity, it was simply that the bottles were next to each other, and both open. Proximity can really impact our choices.
Over the last year, I've lost a substantial amount of weight, and I find that this proximity rule really plays into my daily healthy eating success or failure as well. If I am near a bad choice, it's easier to make a bad choice. The same holds true for choices in relationships, if I am around people who complain, I suddenly have things to complain about, or if I am around people who are really positive and uplifting, poof, its easier to be positive and spread good energy again.
So, what does this mean? Its simple, your proximity to positive and negative affects how you show up in life, and the decisions you make. So, stack your deck by surrounding yourself with good options to put in your mind, body, and relationships. Then run away from the toxic, and if someone continues to try and be toxic towards you alert your inner pest control so you can make plans to not be in proximity to them. When someone treats you poorly on a regular basis, don't give them access to you. You are a gift, and you should be honored, so if they can't do that, they don't get to be near you. As I once heard Samantha on that canceled t.v. show Samantha Who say: "Surround yourself with people you admire, and people who admire you." It's that easy.
People say " A relationship shouldn't be this hard." or "shouldn't love be easier?". But the truth of it is that a good relationships can actually be both hard and easy, and should have a flexibility to how things are moving along.
Right now If you find yourself thinking, she's crazy, my relationship is easy, and that's the way it should be. I say: Good, great job, and I challenge you to consider if your partner is as happy with you and the relationship as you would like to believe, and if there is anything you'd like different (maybe more time together, less fighting, less time in front of the t.v. or a better sex life?). Because the simple truth is, that relationships do take work.
However, the work doesn't have to feel hard, and it shouldn't feel hard all the time, but it is okay to have hard times. Part of your growth as a couple is done by coming through hard times together, and being all the stronger for them (meaning closer and more connected after). Hard times are basically hands on team building experience. My answer to if relationships should be hard - yes, sometimes they should, but not all the time. Should relationships be easy - yes, sometimes they should but not all the time. So what does that mean relationships should be to get the Baby Bear feeling of just right? Answer: Relationships should be intentional.
What's that mean? It means that you need to be tuned into your partner, into their life outside of you, and with you. You need to be able to give them the love, respect and support they desire, and you desire for them. It also means that you need to be conscious about what you want out of the relationship, your partner and yourself. It means really being honest with yourself and your partner moment by moment, and coming together in the face of the hard truths that exist and challenge you on a personal and relational level.
So, today I challenge you to consider your relationship,..is it hard right now? If yes, how can you make it easier on your partner and grow your love, trust and friendship? Is your relationship easy right now? Great! How can you make it even better and build up your love, trust and friendship bank account now, so that you have enough to tide your relationship over for the next time a situational rough storm comes about? You are worth the work, and so is your relationship.
Recently I overheard a person lamenting to another person that they "always date the same person over again, even though it's a different girl"... and it was hard for me to restrain myself. I didn't mean to be listening into this other conversation, but waiting in a confined space made it impossible for me to not over hear. And thus I spent the next 20 minutes or so biting my tongue.
As a therapist, I wanted to say, "YES! Yes you are dating the same person over again, and if you dump her, you will find one just like her again! It will take some work, but you can change that. Just come see me for a few sessions, and we'll see how different the next girl you pick up can be."
The sad but comfortable truth of it all is that we as humans tend to play out difficult relationships from our past until we can get them right. Seriously, it's like we haunt ourselves with relationships dynamics from the past until they play out differently, we get sick of it and change it, or until it kills us (literally, this is one of the main reasons that people in abusive relationships continue to go back, or go on into another abusive relationship after leaving one, it's what they are used to and feels normal).
Now I'm gonna say something you likely don't wanna hear, but the truth of it is that often that 1st relationship (the one you play over and over again) wasn't in a choose your partner situation, but instead was a parent or leading adult role during your childhood. Now as an adult you continue to be drawn to people who are like that person (treat you like they treated you), and continue to interact with them hoping to get something that you couldn't from your original adult figure. So, sorry to make you have to think about this, but if you feel like your relationship with your partner is the same as past relationships, consider thinking about how closely that relationship may mirror a relationship you have with one of your parents/caregivers. You may be saying right now, No way, I didn't even know my dad. But wait, is one of the main issues in your current relationship that you feel like your partner is never around? Hum... who is that like? Or you may be saying this person is in no way like my dad,..well what about your mom? Just because you are a female doesn't mean you will carry out a dynamic like the one between you and your father, it could be you and your mom, or you and your grandma.
But here is the good news. You don't have to continue to stay in unsatisfying relationships trying to to get a resolution you could never get with a parent. Instead you can suck it up and acknowledge that there is an issue here, and that you need to do some self work. Then, if you are really brave, go see a therapist. If you're brave but a little scared, talk to some trusted friends and consider a self-help book (but be careful, a lot of those are crap). Most importantly do some self- work. Get in touch with yourself and find out what you are craving from that first relationship, then figure out how to get it from yourself. Ouch, that is hard, but if you do you'll be able to enter into relationships in a whole new way, (or stay in your that completely frees you and your partner from your old crap. Wouldn't that be nice?
Most of us hear the word boundaries and cringe, but it really doesn't have to be so hard. Boundaries are a great way to establish love, care, and respect for yourself and others. They are also inadvertently a great way to piss people off. So, yeah, I guess they can be a bit hard...but they are totally worth it.
So, how do you set boundaries and get the love, care and respect you deserve? More importantly, how do you get your boundaries respected and honored by those around you?
One way the odds of the boundaries you set being respected goes up is by being overt. Whoow, scary concept I know. But actually letting people know your boundaries so they can have an opportunity to respect them, is more likely to meet both of your needs. One big catch about setting a boundary out loud is that first you need to define your boundaries.
Often people don't realize something is not okay (a boundary violation) until they are good and pissed off about it. Meaning that someone else had to violate the boundary. Wouldn't it be nice to not have to get pissed to set boundaries?
To set boundaries first determine what you want. At times it is easier to think of what you don't want and then flip it to find out your desire. I.e. I don't want my family staying a week (I want them to stay 3 nights at most), or I don't want him to call me by the nickname I had in grade school (Suzie) (I want him to call me by the name I enjoy and identify with more (Sue)).
Then find a gentle way to communicate the boundary, that transfers both love and respect to the person you are setting the boundary with, but still allows you to be heard.
I.e. With the above example of not wanting family staying a week, try something like this: "I was really looking forward to your visit, and am hoping you'd be willing to stay with us for three nights. After that if you still plan to be in town, we could come to your motel one day so we'd still get to see you". Or with the name example "You know I was thinking about how sometimes you call me Suzie, and how most of the time only people who really don't know me call me Suzie, and we know each other pretty well now, so go ahead and call me Sue".
See how both of the above requests communicate your boundary but are still sweet for another person to take in? The more positive you make the boundary sound, the more likely a person will respect the boundary. After that it is your job to gently remind them of the boundary if they slip up.
I.e. We were thinking we'd stay at your place 4 nights and then a hotel the last night. Your gentle response "Actually 3 nights at our house is what works best for us." or Yep Suzie. your gentle response "Remember you get to call me Sue n".
Boundaries do take a while to reinforce, and we will continue to talk about that in the upcoming months. But in the mean time, go ahead and set some gentle boundaries. Give others the opportunity to respect them, and see what happens.
*Because Boundaries are so very important, and create a good foundation in every relationship, this is part 1 of a series on boundaries. Please tune back to in to read more in the future on how to set boundaries and have your boundaries respected. For additional insight about how to set Boundaries check out a great book by Cloud & Townsend's book: Boundaries.
Improving yourself, your body, your relationships, your self-confidence, or your life is HARD. It takes a lot of time, energy, and most of the time it is uncomfortable. Lasting change can happen, there is hope for you, and hope for the life you want. But real change takes time, and unfortunately set backs happen along the way, they are to be expected. So what do you do when things have started to improve and then wham, you’re hit hard and it feels like ground zero again?
Here are some quick easy ways to turn set back into launch pads.
So now, take a breath, tell yourself you can, and go out and live the life you want. You deserve it!
Save up those box tops, because it's time to turn them in. You deserve to love and be loved by your partner. A secret to making that happen is to start decoding the communication, and stop getting in your own way.
I want you to succeed in your every day communication with others, especially your partner/ spouse/ best friend. What does that mean? It means slipping on your decoder ring and being invested enough to use it.
Often the lens we are looking at our selves and others through distorts the messages being sent.
Wife statement - "You are always at work, you don't care about your family".
Husband's derived meaning - "I work my butt off but it's not good enough." or "Nothing I do is ever good enough."
Often the true meaning - I want to be with you more, and I want you to be with our children more.
Even better meaning - You are so amazing that I don't want our kids, and me to miss out on time with you.
So, which meaning will help the husband to complete the wifes request...because if you look hard enough she was attempting to send a request (be with us more) but the way it was stated likely kept it from being heard. So what would it be like to get at the real message when you are requesting something of your parent, and giving them an opportunity to fulfill your request?
The main reason people tend to not speak in de-coded ways is that it makes them feel exposed and vulnerable. Simply put if a person asks directly for something there is a fear of being rejected. What we forget is that often asking indirectly (as above) we still feel the rejection we feared, but we also aren't giving our partner an opportunity to fulfill our request because that request is hidden behind a different message. What would it sound like if instead the wife's statement was something like: "I really enjoy being with you, and the kids do too, would it be possible to have a family dinner together tonight?" See how that kind of message feels better to attend to. Likely even if the answer has to be no, it will be a kinder no from the other partner, because the request makes them feel wanted and liked. Who doesn't want to feel wanted and liked?
That is the power of decoding your messages to others, but how do you decode what you are hearing?
1st, you check your lens - if you see your partner through a lens that says "they are always unhappy" or "I am not good enough for her" you are going to hear other people's statements differently. Instead, if this is your partner or best friend, I invite you to put on a lens of love. How do you do that? Simple, before listening and as you are hearing their words repeat in your mind - "they love me, and want the best for us", and you will be surprised how different their message begins to sound.
2nd, listen for the request. Often when people are complaining or ranting they are actually trying to communicate a need. Consider what the need might be, and then put it out there. In the above example what would happen if when the wife said "You are aways at work, you don't care about your family" the husband came over to her, put an arm around her shoulder and said "I would like to be here more, can we all be together tonight?" or "Its hard to be at work when I feel like I am missing out here at home". See, the whole thing simply feels softer and more loving. And Surprise, when people are softer and more loving to each other they often get a softer and more loving response, and then it's like a circle...easier and easier to be softer and loving to each other.
So, today I invite you to slip on your decoder ring and be a soft and loving version of yourself. Listen for opportunities to fulfill your partner's requests, and listen for their needs. You might be surprised that what you begin to hear the most is that they need and want you.
There were a few deaths of classmates during my high school years. At the times none of the people who passed were what I would classify as friends, but I did know them as any other classroom acquaintance would know someone with whom you'd suffered through algebra, or simply been going through the same stage of life along side. I remember having feelings of grief for their families, and friends, but I was also struck by how I experienced the people around me grieving.
I remember wondering if there was a grief bandwagon that I should be climbing aboard, since people who were admittedly not close to the deceased were crying in the hallways, attending funerals, and simply acting grief stricken. I remember one person in particular that was close to someone who had passed being very angry about how others around him were grieving for his friend, and I found the whole thing a bit confusing.
Years later I realized that grief compiles upon other losses, and that some losses are simply easier to feel than others. So now when people cry, or grieve in ways that might feel in-congruent to the outside observer, I recognize that the person is not just grieving over this one things, but about every loss or hurt they have ever experienced. Regardless of if it is for people or lost dreams we all have a lot to grieve over, and many of us haven't given ourselves permission to be sad, or experience the whole of our emotions.
For me, this puts an understandable context around how people grieve for those that we do not know, and how celebrity deaths can feel oddly personal. Take the death of Princess Dianna or Michael Jackson and how hoards of people came out to leave flowers, trinkets and hold vigils to honor their loss. Yes, these people impacted people's lives, and that should be honored in some way, but they were not close relationships. This weekend, t.v. Glee celebrity, Corey Monteith, died, and although this loss does not affect me directly, I found it untimely, and thus surprising. What I haven't been surprised by is the reaction from fans of the show, and friends who have been feeling the loss more personally. So, if you are feeling a bit down-hearted lately, or have shed some unexpected tears, take a moment and be kind to yourself. This is about a loss, but it is also about all your losses and hurts, and those should be honored with time and tears.
Self Care gets a lot of word play now days, but to be honest, it's because it IS important, dare I say essential to making us all better people. And who doesn't want to be a better person interacting with better people? Seriously if it were as easy as buying the world a coke, wouldn't we all want that?
Self Care is nurturing yourself (doing the things that you know make you feel better). Self care often looks different for different people. For some it is journaling, drawing, taking a walk, soaking in a bubble bath, reading, exercising, meditation, deep breathing, music, etc. It is basically anything that leaves you feeling refreshed, recharged and rejuvenated. Because it makes you feels so plug into yourself and re-energized it is ESSENTIAL to your ability to face the daily world.
When you feel refreshed it's easier to take on hard things, deal with crisis, or put up with people that are difficult. Self care makes for better moms, better individuals, better spouses, and better humanitarians. Because let's face it, when we feel good we treat other around us better, and interact with the world in a more respectful and loving way. All good, right?
So why aren't we walking around all respectful and loving, and feeling good all the time? Why don't we do the things that plug us in and refresh ourselves? The main answer I hear to this question is: I don't have time. But what most people are really saying when they say they don't have time is: I feel selfish making time for myself when there are so many other responsibilities and people who need me. And to that I say - Yes, it is hard to choose yourself when you take on so much, and have so much to do, AND that is why it is so important. Plus, YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Now for my blunt hard to hear answer - and when I say this I am mostly saying it to myself because even I am guilty of thinking I can't put down the tasks of the day to take care of myself... so here is my harsh truth (that to me feels like a slap across the face, with the bitter sweet sting of reality). If I take 5 minutes for myself (to do something that makes me feel better - (going to the bathroom with the door shut) or (playing piano)) the world will NOT end. I am not so very important to everything that things will self-destruct if I take a moment. To believe that I am is pretty egocentric, even when it feels like it's all on me. But if it feels like it's all on me, hello that means I am stressed, and what is going to help the most with that? Plugging into myself and doing some good old fashion self care. In reality, if I really am all that important, then I better be taking those 5 minutes, and ideally even more than 5 minutes, because yes, a LOT rests on my shoulders,..so I better strengthen those shoulders with some me time ASAP.
Addionally, when you feel guilty about taking me time... you need to practice some self-talk. So here are some worlds you can borrow when that voice that says "you shouldn't be doing this" pops up:
"A lot of people depend on me. Taking time for me helps them".
"I am worthy of time and my body deserves my respect".
"When I feel shame it is my old self trying to recruit me back into feeling bad. I don't have to go. I am a champion in my life."
"As breathing nurtures my body, this nurtures my soul. I don't plan to hold my breathe, why deny myself this form of air?"
"I'm worth it."
"Replenishment now saves me from using sick time later."
"I am teaching my kids that I am worthy of time, and respect. Through modeling this, they are learning that they are too."
Taking time to nurture yourself is the core of self care. Take time today to connect with yourself and re-establish your worth. You can do it, now and every day. You are worth it.
We all have choice all the time. Sometimes it doesn't feel like the options are any that you like, but there is still choice in what you decide to do. There is even choice in doing nothing, for in and of itself doing nothing is a choice.
So, as you move forward into this holiday week, remember that if you are feeling like life is just not how you'd like it to be, remember that you have some power to change it right now. It might all just come down to making a choice.
P.S. Often Happiness is a choice.
Thoughts and musings to consider.