Your communication style is ruining your relationships

Here’s the problem with all of our relationships – with our spouses or significant others, with family, with friends, and with co-workers: None of us are born knowing how to communicate. In fact, we all kinda stink at it.

As most of us have heard, we all view the world through a different lens. The problem is, we hear everything through different filters too. That means, for example, when your better half says the house is a mess and needs to be cleaned up, he or she may not necessarily be griping at you. Maybe they’re just thinking out loud. But, if you’re always expecting the worse from them, then you’re always going to expect them to be nagging on you, when it’s possibly not the case at all.

Another scenario we may all be familiar with is a conversation between Tom and Ann:

Tom: “Where’s the checkbook?”

Ann: “I don’t know. Why are you always blaming me for everything?

Tom: “Why are you getting so upset? I just asked a simple question.”

Probably sounds a lot like a conversation you’ve had, right? The thing is, it’s not really a “simple” question or conversation. Think about your own relationship. You know that if you’re being asked “Where’s the checkbook?”, or “Why are you acting angry?”, there’s always more to it than the simple question.

The problem is that you’re each reinforcing the other’s communication style

There are a lot of things that could be going on in Tom and Ann’s conversation that we don’t know about. Ann was responding to a number of cues that Tom gave her. She may have felt like Tom’s tone was harsh or blaming. Maybe they’ve had a long-standing argument about where the dang checkbook is. Her response to Tom’s question is fueled by her own interpretation of what she thinks the question means.

If Ann thinks Tom is always overly controlling or blaming, and then hears what she interprets to be a controlling tone, or sees a particular look on his face, she’ll assume he’s doing what he “always” does and treat her poorly.

But Ann’s not the only one to blame here. Maybe Tom also has some negative beliefs about Ann. He likely thinks she’s unorganized or too sensitive, or easily provoked. So, because he’s probably unaware of his tone, he’ll be surprised by Ann’s angry response. This is filtered through his beliefs about her, and he’ll respond accordingly.

Both are trapped in this negative cycle of reinforcing each other’s beliefs by the way they interact with each other. It doesn’t matter how many times Tom has asked Ann about the checkbook, every time she’s probably going to respond poorly. She’ll get upset. And then he’ll get upset.

What happens next? You can probably guess. They’ll either both shut down and refuse to even look at the other person, or one of them will get mad and stomp out.

Why do these simple questions have to be so hard?

And so starts another cycle of the same never-ending argument. If you’re anything like Tom and Ann, these arguments are probably on auto-pilot by now, and all it takes is one person to say the wrong thing, and we’re off to the races. You can probably, at this point, list everything that’s going to be said during the argument and how it’s ultimately going to end. And yet we still keep doing it.

Stopping the negative cycle

To put a stop to this negative cycle, you’ve got to first understand a really important point about the situation you’re in:

It really only takes one person to change a relationship.

Wait, what?

That’s right – the other person could do absolutely nothing and you can still create positive, healthy change in the way you communicate in your relationship. Of course, it’s always nice when both people want to move the relationship forward, but even so, you have the ability and responsibility to make this change happen in your relationship.

Think back to Tom and Ann. What if Tom had reconsidered the way he asked that question? What if Ann had taken a moment to think about what Tom was really asking? Even a split-second of thought and consideration may have made that conversation turn out really differently.

Either Tom or Ann’s change in perception of the other person could’ve taken the conversation in a completely different direction. 

How to put it into practice

Changing the negative cycle in your relationship isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Really, it’s a simple mindset change. Next time you and the person you care about begin to have a conversation that usually leads to an argument, simply consider what what you’re hearing versus what they’re really saying. 

Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they are being a jerk, but just maybe they’re looking to move the conversation forward, rather than allowing it to continue getting stuck.

Dr. Zakk Gammon is a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor at the Practice Administrator of Revive Christian Counseling.

Zakk works with couples who are tired of feeling stuck, and are ready to make a real, lasting change in their relationship.

Zakk can be reached at (270) 926-6957 or by email at zakk@revivecounseling.org.

CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT.

Loving Your Spouse in a Way That Makes Sense: Improving Communication in Your Relationship

Remember when you were dating, how easy it was to go out to dinner or just spend the evening hanging out together? Fast forward a couples years into marriage and things are very different. The things that your spouse used to find cute are now driving them crazy. And the things you used to do for them don’t seem to be enough anymore.

Perhaps it’s because you’re loving them in the way that you want to feel love, but maybe it’s not the way they want to receive that love. Maybe it doesn’t make any sense to them. 

Think of it like this: you’re speaking to your partner in Spanish, but they’re speaking to you in German. In reality, both of you should be speaking Italian and you get in this endless loop of trying to understand the other person, and then getting frustrated when they don’t get it. 

Watch this video and see what small changes you can make to have a big impact.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwrBUrmax94&feature=youtu.be

Dr. Zakk Gammon works with couples who are looking to make changes in their relationship by learning better communication skills to create a rock-solid foundation. Schedule your appointment with him here.

3 Ways to Keep Anxiety from Ruining Your Holidays

The other day I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “It’s time for me to put up my regular anxiety and put on my fancy Christmas anxiety”. I kind of laughed, but only because it’s so true.

Are you stressed up to your eyeballs right now? This time of year, we see so many folks come in who are completely stressed and aren’t sure what to do about it. They’re trying to get to all the places, to do all the things, to make all the people happy. And yet, they’re miserable. Parents are rushing around trying to get all the junk their kids asked for this Christmas. You’re trying to frantically clean the house so when your in-laws show up they’re not judging the crap all over the floor. Or, you’re considering moving to a far-off island so you don’t have to listen to your mother while you’re stuck at her house for nine hours straight on Christmas Day.

Sound familiar?

The problem is, you’re only wearing yourself out. However, you don’t have to spend this Christmas season completely exhausted. And there is an opportunity to find freedom. Use these tips to make anxiety stop ruining your holidays:

1. Take the pressure off yourself

If you set high expectations for yourself and everyone around you, you’re going to be let down nearly every time. Planning for the holidays is important, but so is being aware that some things won’t go exactly to plan.

2. Most people aren’t paying much attention to you

A lot of times during the holidays, we feel like we have to “play the part”, looking like the perfect host, child, grandchild, in-law, etc. However, most people aren’t staring you down waiting for you to mess up. They’re probably worried about the same things themselves. Give yourself the grace to not be perfect. And that’s okay.

3. Choose to say no

You don’t have to say yes to everything. And there’s a lot of freedom in saying no. If your family gets upset with you over your no, chances are it’s time to put up boundaries with them.

Although some report that the holidays lift their spirits, many people say that the holiday season makes them feel a lot more anxious. Don’t add yourself to those statistics.

Dr. Zakk Gammon is a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor and the Director of Revive Christian Counseling.

He works with people who a struggling with anxiety and are ready to find practical ways to get break free.

To schedule an appointment, call Zakk at 270.926.6957, email him at zakk@revivecounseling.org, or skip the conversation and click here to schedule an appointment.

It’s time to get your life back.

 

The simple way to rebuild trust in your relationship

One of the most frequent questions we receive at Revive Christian Counseling is from clients who are looking to rebuild what’s left of a damaged relationship. Whether you’re married and have cheated on your spouse, or you’ve done something really hurtful to a friend, the question we’re asked most often is “How do I get them to trust me again?”

The answer is really simple, but it’s probably not the answer that you want.

Rebuilding trust in your broken relationship

The simple truth of the matter there’s nothing you can say or do to instantly make the other person feel better. As you’ve certainly already discovered, there’s no “magic wand” you can wave to suddenly make everything okay. It’s not as simple as just moving on and forgetting the situation happened.

RELATED: Christian Counseling for Affairs

The only way to rebuild trust in your relationship is by being trustworthy

That means you’re going to have to do some things you probably don’t want to do. You’re going to have to be completely honest and open about what you’re doing, what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling. If you’ve cheated or come clean about a sex or pornography addiction to your spouse, you’re also going to have to do some work to reassure them it’s not going to happen again.

RELATED: Rebuilding Trust in Your Broken Relationship

The best way to begin rebuilding this trust is to use some type of accountability software. At Revive Christian Counseling, we recommend Accountable2You(We get no monetary earnings by you using this software; it is simply the one we think works the best.) Accountable2You and other similar accountability apps allow you to setup trusted contacts who’ll receive alerts if you visit inappropriate websites, or send or receive inappropriate text messages or emails.

Many choose to ask their pastor or a trusted friend or mentor to receive those alerts. Some choose to list their spouse as another contact. While there’s nothing wrong with your spouse receiving those alerts, it isn’t a good idea to expect them to be the only person to hold you accountable. They’re already going through a lot of emotions and challenges as they navigate their feelings around what’s happened, and so it’s a bit unfair to add that to their plate as well. Additionally, it forces them to have to be even more vigilant about your actions and who you’re talking to or what sites you’re visiting.

Accept responsibility

When working to rebuild trust in your relationship, it’s important to remember that you have to take responsibility for your actions. No, that doesn’t mean you have to live with immense guilt or shame, but it does mean you have to let the other person know that you’re accepting the blame for what’s happened, and that you’re going to do what it takes to get the relationship back on track.

Back up your words with actions

Now that you’ve accepted responsibility and you’ve come clean about what’s happened, it’s not enough to just say you’re sorry. You’re going to have to do some work to prove that you’re willing to do what needs to be done to rebuild the trust. To do so, remember to be humble, gracious and kind in regard to what they’re going through. Remember to over communicate your thoughts and actions so there’s never any doubt about what’s going on in your mind or what you’re doing. If the betrayal has to do with an inappropriate relationship or with pornography, consider seeking counseling for affairs or counseling for pornography addiction.

Be patient

If you’ve hurt someone else, they’re going to need time to process and understand what they’re feeling. Even if you’ve committed to never hurting them again, they’re still going to feel the hurt and pain caused by your actions. It’s important to remember that while these actions are in your past, it’s very much in the other person’s present as they work to navigate their emotions. Allow them to experience the anger, disbelief, sadness and hurt as they figure out how to begin healing.

Struggling to rebuild trust in your relationship? Give us a call, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here to begin getting back on track. It’s time to get your life back.

20 Small Things to Make a Huge Difference in Your Marriage

Let’s be honest. Marriage can be hard. Anyone who says marriage is easy has either never been married, or they’ve only been married for about five minutes. Over time, we tend to develop habits in our relationship. Some are good, and some aren’t so great. Whether you’re in a season where the bad’s outweighing the good, or you’re just looking for ways to continually improve your relationship, these 20 small tips can make a huge impact.

Use these tips to improve your marriage, and watch how the relationship changes.

1. Greet the other person with love at the end of the day.

Work sucked. The people sucked. The whole day sucked. You know, every day is supposed to be a gift, but today was probably socks. But when you walk in the door at home, you have the opportunity to hit the reset button, to shift your focus and to recenter on the relationships that matter most. There will be days when you have literally nothing left to give, but those should be few and far between. If you’re constantly expending all your energy on work relationships and you have nothing when you get home, your doing your most important relationships a disservice.

Show your spouse love by greeting them with a kiss, a hug or just a simple smile when you get home. Talk about the things that bothered you during the day, but also take time to enjoy being with the other person.

2. Offer a kind word.

Nothing makes someone feel better after a long day than saying something nice about them. Remind them of why you love them, or something you like about them. Tell them they look nice. Let them know how you thought about them during the day.

3. Give thanks.

It doesn’t have to be huge. Maybe he loaded the dishwasher when he got home. Maybe she started working on homework with the kids. It’s the small things that go a long way. Let the other person know that you noticed, and that you appreciate what they’re doing. A simple “thank you” really makes a big difference.

4. Speak the truth.

Don’t just tell the other person what they want to hear. But also, don’t just tell them everything’s fine when it’s not. Build trust in your relationship by being willing to discuss the hard stuff. It may not be easy, but it will make the relationship stronger.

5. Look for the positives.

Spread positivity in your relationship. Did your spouse have a crappy day? How can you make their day better? What’s something simple you can say to make them laugh or to bring a little sunshine to an otherwise cloudy day?

6. Shrug off the small things.

Yes, it’s true. Your spouse was raised by savages. Those savages never taught them how to squeeze toothpaste from a tube the proper way. Nobody ever explained to them how to put a new roll of toilet paper on the roll. It’s probably physically impossible for them to put their dirty socks in the hamper, or park the car in a straight line in the garage. But it’s important to remember, in the grand scheme of things, those things don’t really matter. Use separate tubes of toothpaste. Put the roll of TP out yourself. Pick up the socks. Put reflective tape on the garage floor so they know how to pull the car in. Seriously – It. Will. Be. Okay.

When we choose to not sweat the small stuff, we’re telling our spouse we are overlooking those small things they do because we love them. And while they may suck at doing those little things around the house, they still love you with their whole heart.

Plus, there are areas you probably suck, too.

7. Snuggle together.

When’s the last time you curled up on the couch or spooned at bedtime? If you’re having a hard time remembering, maybe it’s time to try again. Your spouse will appreciate the attention

8. Serve together.

What’s something you and your spouse both enjoy doing? How to your talents compliment each other? In what ways can you use those gifts in your church or faith community? Despite what the children’s pastor at your church may tell you, not everybody is called to kids’ ministry. And that’s okay. But what other opportunities are there? Can you join the hospitality team? Serve in a soup kitchen? Mentor a hurting family? How can you use the gifts God has given you to find joy and purpose with your spouse?

9. Pray for each other.

Seriously. Stop what you’re doing and pray for your spouse. Even if you’re mad at them, or frustrated with them, or just completely and totally done dealing with them at the moment – pray for them to have a better day. Pray they have a day they enjoy that is satisfying and fulfilling. Pray they feel your love and God’s love. Pray they feel joy.

10. Listen carefully.

Are they telling you about a situation from work? Maybe they got into a disagreement with a friend. Maybe they had the best dang day in the history of ever. Whatever it is, really listen. Look them in the eye. Don’t listen for the sake of responding. Listen to understand them deeper. Ask follow-up questions.

11. Apologize and ask for grace.

Sometimes they suck. Sometimes we suck. Sometimes it all sucks. Maybe you said or did something that was hurtful or spiteful. Ask for their forgiveness and how you can make the situation better.

12. Kiss.

Don’t just say “love you” when you walk out the door mindlessly. Kiss them goodbye. Kiss them hello. Kiss them just because.

13. Laugh at their stupid jokes.

Yes, their jokes are dumb. They think they’re funny. You know they’re not. They probably feel the same way about you. Find the joy anyway. Laugh at the silliness. See Number 5.

14. Give a gracious answer.

Don’t be harsh. Not everything is serious. And even if it’s a serious topic, remember to show grace. For people who are constantly looking for grace from other people, we’re certainly pretty bad at extending it to others.

15. Spend time with just each other.

After you put the kids to bed, spend some time with just each other. Enjoy each other’s company. Talk about your hopes, dreams and plans. Talk about the future and what you want it to look like. Talk about favorite memories of the past. Building intimacy can start with this simple step.

16. Smile at each other.

A warm smile goes a long way. Stop scowling at the other person because it’s 6:00am and you hate people this early.

17. Forgive fully.

As stated previously, we all suck. We all fall short in marriage. Sometimes we say and do things that shouldn’t have been said or done. Those things can’t be changed, but your reactions can. They screwed up, and it hurt. But you don’t have to continue living in that hurt.

RELATED: Four Ways to Help You Forgive Someone

18. Act ridiculous with each other.

When’s the last time you just let your guard down around the other person? Sing an awful rendition of your favorite song. Dance around the living room. Look at funny videos on YouTube and giggle like 16-year-old girls together. Let your hair down.

19. Build each other up.

Tell the other person all the reasons why you love them, and why you fell in love with them. Write it down on a list. Send them an email. Leave it on sticky notes throughout the house. Give the other person a compliment that lets them know you really notice those things.

20. Decide you’re going to love each other.

Not every day is a walk in the park. Life isn’t always paradise. When you’re married to someone else, disagreements will undoubtedly come up. And that’s okay. But it’s also important to remember when you’re in the middle of a conflict, that you are going to continue loving that person even though they’re not really winning at this marriage thing right now.

Marriage isn’t a stagnant relationship. It’s always growing, always changing, and always evolving. Begin looking for small ways to make huge impacts in your relationship.

P.S. – If you haven’t already, download your copy of our FREE resource, 10 Communication Tips to Improve Your Relationship in Just One Week! Download your copy here.

Need some help getting your relationship on track? Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.

How to set appropriate boundaries with people to finally get some peace

Relationships with other people can be hard. Whether it’s in your marriage, with a friend, a family member, co-worker or somebody from church, there are times throughout these relationships when things don’t go the way you want. Conversations get difficult. People are hurt. Sometimes they get angry.

There comes a point, many times, in these situations when you realize your conversations and disagreements aren’t going anywhere and continuing to go round and round is only making things worse. This results in the relationship getting even more damaged, and the more you think about it, the worse it feels.

Eventually, you wind up in a place where you’re just fed up with the relationship, but you’re not sure how to move forward. Is the relationship salvageable? Can things change? These issues in relationships are unfortunately normal, but you don’t have to continue in this negative cycle.

It’s true that a lot of people struggle creating healthy boundaries in their relationships. However, if we can learn how to create boundaries in a way that’s both effective and easy to follow, we can learn to actually enjoy those relationships again. When we learn to put those boundaries in place, it’s absolutely possible to finally find some peace.

Keep reading to learn how to start finding your peace again.

The negativity in the relationship is dragging you down to a place of anger and resentment

The downside of a relationship getting this way is that it just kind of consumes you. You start feeling bitter about the situation. You can become jaded, angry and beginning to wonder why the other person could do this to you.

Or, maybe you go the opposite route, and start feeling really unworthy. Maybe you reach a point that you start feeling bad about yourself and incredibly guilty. It starts to feel like you deserve the place you’re in, and that it’ll never get better.

You might start thinking things like, “How could they do this to me? After everything I’ve done for them.” At some point, maybe you’d just like to walk straight up to the other person and say, “Who do you think you are!?”

You can get back to that place of peace, contentment and joy in your relationship

Although you’re struggling with these negative feelings about the other person and the relationship feels like it’s falling apart, you have the potential to get back to a place where you enjoy being around them again. When we choose to implement these boundaries, we’re giving ourselves the freedom to find happiness again.

Not only do you get the chance to enjoy the relationship again, but perhaps, you’ll be able to make it better than before. Whether it’s a friendship, or a relationship with a family member, or even a co-worker, you can get back to the place where you look forward to talking to them and spending time together.

Perhaps more importantly, you don’t have to continue living with the feelings of anger, guilt, or not being good enough. Instead, imagine a time when you could begin feeling in control of your emotions again. You get the opportunity to take charge of your own life, feeling proud of yourself and get to remember what your worth really is. You finally get to feel respected.

The key to getting to this place is to create those boundaries now so the relationship can move forward

When you’re the middle of emotional drama in these relationships, it can feel pretty hopeless. Not only are you wondering if you can really move forward or if you should just consider it a loss, but you may be mourning what was once there, too.Making these changes isn’t really that difficult if you know how to get started. In fact, it’s a pretty simple four-step process. When you start following them, you’ll begin to see things falling into place.

Take a look at these four steps and begin watching your relationship change for the better.One of the reasons you’re struggling in the relationship is likely because you and the other person haven’t even realized the lack of boundaries and how the situation is unhealthy. It’s hard to take a step back and look at it from an objective perspective. In the middle of a messy relationship, everything is subjective.

Knowing that, it makes complete sense why you’re feeling so exhausted from this situation. Luckily, it doesn’t have to stay this way. When you start implementing boundaries, what you’re really saying to the other person is that you care about them enough to make an effort to create positive change.

Step 1: Recognize the relationship is unhealthy

When you’re stuck in the middle of a messy friendship, working relationship, situation with a family member or in a crappy situation with your better half, it’s difficult to realize how far south the relationship has gone. Taking a step back to create an inventory of the relationship allows you the chance to see it from all sides.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I beginning to dread talking to this person?
  • Do I find myself getting frustrated every time we talk about something?
  • Am I constantly having to bite my tongue to avoid a conflict?
  • Do I sit and stew over the situation without actually finding a way to make a change?

If you answered yes, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about what expectations have been crossed. Is the other person telling you what to do or making comments that aren’t their place to make? Do they feel comfortable saying certain things to you that don’t seem like it’s their business? Are they trying to push you too hard to do something you don’t think is right?

RELATED: Three Ways Setting Boundaries will Help Your Sanity

Step 2: Lay out the expectations

How should this relationship really look? What are you hoping to get out of it? Realistically, what would make you most happy if the relationship moves forward? Have a conversation with the other person and decide: what are your non-negotiables?

  • Is the way they talk to you unacceptable? How do you want them to speak to you moving forward?
  • Do they speak disrespectfully to you? How would you prefer they speak to you in the future?
  • Do they butt in to situations that aren’t their business? How would you like for them to address areas of concern in the future?
  • Do they only focus on themselves and create a one-sided relationship? What can they do to show genuine interest in the things happening in your life?

At Revive Christian Counseling, we help clients to determine what non-negotiables they have by making a list based on their specific situations. It helps to write them down before getting together to have the discussion with the other person. What other questions could you add to this list? Creating these expectations and actually agreeing to them, can help you re-establish the relationship and likely create the one that you should have in the first place.

Step 3: After establishing these new ground rules, check in with the other person to see how things are going

How are you and the other person handling these new boundaries? The thing to remember is that these boundaries can change over time as necessary. Does the relationship feel stuffy now? Does it feel like you’re constantly tip-toeing around to avoid making each other mad, or hurting each other’s feelings?

It’s okay to go back and make changes to the original boundaries, so long as both of you are in agreement with the new rules. If you can’t agree, go back to the drawing board and discuss your non-negotiables again.

Step 4: Understand the consequences when the boundaries aren’t honored

One of the most frequent responses we receive from clients when talking about boundaries is that they’re afraid the other person won’t honor them. The truth is, not everybody will. Sometimes in dysfunctional relationships, the other person will try everything they can to avoid agreeing to the boundaries so they can keep pushing your buttons. Many times, we see this dynamic play out in dysfunctional family relationships, when the people will say things like, “We’re family. We have to stick together,” or,“Why are you treating me like this after everything I’ve done for you. That’s not how you treat family.

RELATED: DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY ROLES: DO YOU FIT ONE OF THEM?

That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place in the event these boundaries aren’t respected. What’ll happen in the relationship if the other person can’t get on board? Some solutions might include:

  • Lovingly, but firmly reminding the person the boundaries set in place.
  • Spending some time considering your role in the situation, and if you’re doing anything that gives the other person the impression they don’t have to follow those boundaries.
  • Taking some time apart from the other person, if and when possible.
  • Coming to the realization that this person may never respect your boundaries, and planning accordingly.
  • Completely disassociating with the other person so that you don’t continue getting dragged down into a negative spiral.

These conversations aren’t easy when you’ve set clear expectations, but sometimes they’re necessary if the other person continues to push you to that negative place.

Setting boundaries can feel difficult when it’s happening, but the peace and joy you feel afterward is well worth the journey.

Achieving healthy boundaries in relationships can be completely freeing. You are worthy of no longer living with anger, resentment, guilt, and low self-worth. You can absolutely reach that point. However, sometimes it’s difficult to do it on your own. And Revive Christian Counseling can help.

We work with people who are tired of feeling stuck in these situations and are ready to move on to finding freedom. We’ll help you to let go of the bitterness, to feel proud of yourself and to finally feel respected.

Are you ready to set boundaries and finally find your peace? Let’s work together to get you on track and find true emotional health. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule an appointment here on our website. It’s time to get your life back.

3 Ways You can Move from Emotional Pain to Healing and Freedom when Someone Hurts You

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we have to experience emotional pain and heartache. People let us down. Marriages fall apart. Children disappoint us. Bosses berate us. Family abandons us. Friends forget about us.

The downsides to these problems lead us to feeling like we aren’t good enough. We begin to feel upset, and worthless. We feel as though nobody cares. In short, we feel isolated. When we start feeling isolated, we react negatively, in ways like:

  • Lashing out at friends and family
  • Avoiding conflict and confrontation
  • Constantly worrying about every conversation we have with others
  • Desperately trying to get other people’s approval, many times in incredibly unhealthy ways

Maybe it plays out for you like this: your boss gets upset with you for something you did wrong at work. Sure, it was probably a simple mistake, and maybe they didn’t even make that big of a deal about it. But now you’re starting to feel nervous, maybe wondering if you’re at risk of getting fired. So now you’re working even harder trying to fix the situation, but you feel like you’re living under a microscope – like the boss is just waiting for you to mess up again. And so the whole time you’re working your butt off to try to make the situation better but you end up making even more mistakes because you’re so nervous.

Then, you go home at the end of another stressful day on the job to find the kids running around like savages. The house is a mess. Homework isn’t done. There are about 10 or 15 different things you look around and see that your spouse could have done when they got home, but now you’ve got to do all that work too. Time for dinner. Kids need baths. Oh look, there’s a pile of laundry that’s overflowing the hamper. When is all of this going to stop.

On top of that, something happened with your better half today. Who knows, maybe they had a crappy day at work too. Whatever is going on, now they’re being short and snippy with you too. You try to have a conversation and everything is met with either being ignored or some kind of hateful response. So at the end of another long, exhausting, frustrating day, you crawl into bed to try to get some sleep. But before you know it, your alarm is screaming in your ear. Time to get up. Time to do it all over again today.

All this endless cycle does is keep us feeling stuck. We’re not moving forward. All we’re doing is running in place, spending day after day after frustrating day trying to keep everything together. Unfortunately, all this does is continue to push us farther and farther away from other people to the point we’re so isolated we either look completely unapproachable, or nobody even has any idea of what’s happening with us.

The unfortunate reality is that at some point, probably everybody has gone through this. The good news is that you’re not alone. The bad news is that if you ask most people, they have no idea how in the world to make it any better because they’re stuck running in place themselves.

Moms everywhere feel like they’re drowning in responsibilities. Dads feel like they don’t have any respect at home. Employees feel unfulfilled by their draining jobs and families feel like there’s so much dysfunction they don’t know how to even have a freaking meal together in peace.

It’s true that this isolation keeps people from experiencing the true peace and joy that as Christians we’re promised. However, if we can learn how to begin working toward finding that freedom, we can truly find contentment and get back to enjoying life.

Keep reading for 3 tips so you can start finding peace today.

If you continue living in isolation, you’re going to keep feeling alone

The biggest downside of not overcoming these feelings of isolation is that you’re only going to continue going down this negative cycle of being alone. You’re going to feel like the crap just keeps piling up and there’s no real hope for digging your way out. You’re going to keep having the fights, arguments and excruciatingly painful silence at the end of another long day of disappointment.

Living this way is exhausting. Nothing ever moves forward. It only keeps pulling you back. Inside, you’re probably screaming for somebody, anybody to step in and help. On the outside, you’re just doing everything you can to hold it all together.

But thank God you don’t have to keep living alone in this cage of isolation

Although you’re struggling in this sucky, lonely pit of despair, you have the potential to really find pace, contentment and joy again. When we choose to do this, we realize we’re worth a heck of a lot more than the crap we’ve been living in.

3 Ways to Achieve this Healing and Wholeness

The key to achieving contentment is to put a plan into place to protect yourself from the negative feelings you’re experiencing. Making these changes isn’t as hard as you think if you’re willing to change your way of thinking.

It’s important to truly understand these feelings so that you can move forward in a healthy way.

1. You’re struggling to forgive

Forgiveness is hard. Countless examples in Scripture talk about the importance of forgiving others. And of course, we understand Christ’s ultimate act of forgiveness on the Cross for our sins.

But how often are you truly practicing forgiveness? Are you truly making the conscious decision to move past the negative emotions and bitterness you’re holding toward another person and lay them down? Or are you hoping that they’ll somehow get the message of your anger and come to you with an apology?

Maybe they already have apologized and you just can’t find it in your heart to allow yourself to forgive them. You feel angry, alone and justified in your emotions.

The solution: Understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re saying it’s okay and that they can hurt you again.

Remember in elementary school how somebody would do something to us and then the teacher would make them apologize? It would go something like this:

Teacher (obviously oblivious): “You need to apologize for what you’ve done.”

Mean, hateful, awful kid (obviously not really caring): “Sorry.”

You (obviously not over it): “It’s okay.”

Here’s the deal, though. It wasn’t okay 25 years ago when you were being picked on during recess, and it’s not okay what’s happening to you now.

We’re conditioned to think that when someone apologizes, we’re just supposed to say “It’s okay,” even though it’s not. And so as a result, we think forgiving somebody means that we just have to suck it up and tell them what they’ve done is okay, and it’s okay for them to do it again. It’s NOT. Forgiving someone means simply saying that you’re no longer going to cause you to hold bitterness, resentment and possibly hatred against them. It means you’re choosing to free yourself.

If, after you forgive them, they choose to continue acting the way they’re acting and trying to hurt you, that’s on them. But the idea after you forgive them isn’t to just get over it and move on, rather, to give yourself freedom and then not allow them to hurt you again.

Which brings us to our second point:

2. You’re not sure how to put up appropriate boundaries.

Establishing healthy boundaries is a therapeutic term that’s thrown around a lot, yet few people understand how to really do it with success. Boundaries can be hard.

Have you ever tried putting up a boundary with someone? What was the result? I can guarantee you that if the relationship was unhealthy and you tried to establish those boundaries, the unhealthy person tried their hardest to push against them.

The fastest way to tick off a dysfunctional family member is to put a boundary in place, telling them you have no desire to continue in a negative relationship the way it’s been happening. They may yell, throw a fit, bait you to get into a fight with them, or try to make you feel guilty, saying things like “But we’re family. You needme,”

The solution: Keep the boundaries in place. They’re there for a reason.

Dysfunctional people like to fight against boundaries. It’s what they do. However, it’s up to you to hold them in place. That may mean ignoring phone calls and texts. It could mean no longer going around that person when it can be avoided. It may mean choosing not to engage with them in their behavior when they’re acting out or trying to press your buttons.

Believe me, it’s easier said than done. You may feel bad because “you’re the only person they have,” or “there’s nobody else who can help them,”. It’s not your job to help them if it’s constantly causing you to struggling with that anger, bitterness and resentment. It’s your job to protect yourself.

3. You’re feeling alone and isolated.

When something bad happens to us, it’s human nature to retreat and try to get away from the situation. Sometimes, this means putting up walls to keep people out. Sometimes it means literally retreating and not talking to anyone for days at a time.

And the longer we do it, the easier it gets to isolate ourselves. When we avoid others, and avoid conflict, we’re keeping ourselves out of relationships with other people – and it only hurts us. Sure, there are people who are introverted and only need a handful of relationships. On the other hand, the extroverts of the world need a lot of relationships. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall on, each of us were created to live in relationship with one another. Keeping ourselves out of those healthy relationships only allows Satan to attack our minds by constantly telling us we’re not good enough.

The solution: Find healthy and safe ways to be with others, even if you don’t always feel like it.

The old saying is true, “misery loves company.” If you’re struggling with feelings of depression and anxiety, being alone only compounds those feelings. It may be difficult to go be with people when you’re hurting, but if you can find just one friend who you trust to call and spend an afternoon with, or go out to lunch, you’ll find yourself starting to feel better.

Each of us were created to be in relationships with other people. These relationships help us to navigate those feelings of not being good enough, not being worthy of finding hope, and getting through stressful situations. 

You’ve got some work to do.

Getting to the point of finding freedom is a difficult and challenging task. But achieving that hope can be liberating when you’re stuck in those negative emotions. You absolutely can find that freedom and healing for yourself.

If you’re having trouble doing it on your own, give us a shout and let us walk through it with you. At Revive Christian Counseling, we’re here to walk through it with you every step of the way.

Struggling to find freedom?
Let’s work together to get back on track. Call us, schedule an appointment online, or message us on Facebook to get started. It’s time to get your life back.

Discreet Addiction Treatment Advice for the Career-Minded Person

Addiction Affects Everyone

People always believe that they are the exception, but addiction does not discriminate. No matter what your standing in life is or how much money you make, you are just as likely to turn to drug or alcohol abuse as anyone else. There is no precise cause of addiction. Rather, various factors can contribute to the disease.

 

  • Genetic inheritance often plays a significant role in addiction. As it turns out, people that have relatives with addiction problems have an increased risk of developing one themselves.
  • Environment– that is, the people, places, and events a person is exposed to– is often an influence the contributes to a person’s addiction. Seeing and experiencing drug or alcohol use around you regularly normalizes and encourages it.
  • People who have experienced significant trauma in their life– especially during childhood– are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol. People often turn to substance abuse as a way to deal with physical and emotional difficulties that result from traumatic events.

Are You Addicted? Recognizing a Substance Abuse Problem

Most people are not willing to admit to themselves that they have a substance abuse problem. Generally, people let their destructive behaviors continue to a point of significant consequences, including severe health problems, family fractures, and professional woes. If you want to avoid such consequences, prevention is your best bet. However if you’ve already fallen into addictive behaviors, the earlier you recognize them and correct them, the easier reversal is.

Signs of addiction include:

  • You don’t feel normal without your substance
  • You’ve tried giving up your substance, but eventually returned to it.
  • You experience symptoms of withdrawalafter you quit using your substance of choice.
  • You find yourself making social or recreational sacrifices in favor of substance use.
  • You engage in risky or destructive behaviors.
  • You turn to your substance when confronted with stress or other problems.
  • You deny a problem when confronted by friends or family.
  • You hide your drug or alcohol use from those around you.
  • You begin to stash your substance in different places.
  • You binge your substance in an effort to feel good.
  • You spend a disproportionate amount of money on the substance.
  • You experience issues with work, family, or other relationships.

Discreet Addiction Treatment

Generally, people don’t want to advertise that they have a substance abuse problem. This is especially true for people like executives and other professionals whose job could be put in jeopardy if authorities discovered such an instability. Getting your addiction under control is important for job security, but doing so discreetly can help prevent professional problems while doing so.

  • Outpatient addiction programs allow recovering users to keep going to work throughout the day while experiencing treatment.
  • Journaling allows you to express difficulties and analyze your emotions to help get to the route of internal problems that contribute to destructive addictive behaviors. Keep a notebook and pen on you at all times and jot down thoughts and feelings as they come.
  • Meditation is a healthy way to re-align the mind so it is better able at dealing with stress and other triggers that lead to substance abuse. Set up a designated spot in or near your office where you can be alone and meditate when the pressures of work make substance use tempting. If your coworkers or boss ask about what you are doing, point out the number of successful people that use meditation as a tool to improve their professional performance.
  • Supplement your addiction recovery methods with healthy daily habits that help heal and balance both mind and body. Exercise stimulates the brain’s reward center to fight cravings while stimulating hormone and neurochemical development impeded by drug or alcohol abuse. Furthermore, pursuing a healthy diet provides the body with nutrients the body needs to repair the damage substance abuse inflicts.
  • Know your rights regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA. The ADA protects recovering drug addicts and alcoholics from discrimination if they are currently in a rehabilitation program or have been successfully rehabilitated. If you feel your workplace is discriminating you based on your addiction, you can file a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Having money and a successful career doesn’t make you immune to addiction. If you notice signs of addiction in your behaviors, catching and correcting them early makes recovery much easier so you can pursue it in a discreet manner. Utilize various treatments to correct destructive behaviors for a well-rounded recovery that enables you to get back to your life as soon as possible.

 STRUGGLING WITH ADDICTION? It’s time to get your life back on track. Call us, send us a message on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.

Helping Children After a Messy Divorce

A messy divorce doesn’t need to transition into a messy post-divorce family situation. Whether you’ve ripped up the custody papers or had a public screaming match, it’s never too late to change.

Children are affected by divorce. It’s the truth, but it doesn’t have to be as negative as it sounds. There are positives to take away and getting through a tough time teaches children a lesson. It will teach them about obstacles and life in general while shaping their character like tackling any issue can. As the old saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Of course that doesn’t mean they won’t need support. Structure and stability during life challenges such as divorce are imperative and a topic I covered in my last post. There, I highlighted the importance of communication and stability between co-parents and working on an amicable shared custody parenting setup. This time I’m going to focus more on what you can do to help your children through this and I’ll be making the assumption that due to a messy divorce, an ideal parenting partnership maybe be impossible or at the least untenable.

Reassure

A “bad” divorce often means your children have been exposed to conflict and at a minimum bad energy between you and your ex-partner. It may be obvious to them you don’t love each other anymore but you have to reassure them that you both love still love them, the same as before, unconditionally. That aspect of your family will never change.

Additionally you need to reassure them that it’s okay to love their other parent; they need that regardless of your feelings. Depending just how badly your relationship with your ex husband or wife has deteriorated, your children may even feel guilty for loving or spending time with the other parent. Don’t encourage this; it will only leave them feeling confused. You need to absolve them of guilt at every possible opportunity and reiterate that no one is going anywhere; they still have two parents and always will do. Remember to not only refrain from alienating your children from their
other parent but help them with feelings of alienation from society. A divorce can feel like a broken, damaged family. Your children must recognize it’s not a reflection of them.

Reassure them that it’s okay to have feelings. Normalize their reactions and try to understand them, legitimize their feelings by agreeing and empathizing. Acknowledge their right to be angry or upset, never deny them that. Encourage conversation, answer their questions with honesty whenever possible and hopefully they will do the same. This can give you a window into just how much they are affected and the level of support they need. Sometimes it’s healthy to shield your children from too much information until they’re of appropriate age. Unfortunately after a conflict-filled divorce, that age may have prematurely arrived and they may be aware of more than you expect. It’s not always easy to be honest, especially if you don’t have all the answers, but just be prepared for some difficult questions.

Minimize Blame

A step toward minimizing any guilt or confusion your children may be feeling is to also minimize blame. Save that for therapy sessions! When I said a messy divorce doesn’t necessarily need to develop into a messy parenting or family situation part of the reason is that you leave that baggage there, in the past. There’s no need to let that person, or what happened, continue affecting you or your children’s lives; if that happens, everyone has lost.

While being careful not to badmouth your ex, it’s important you make clear to your children that you’ll never be getting back to together. This is a new stage of your life and there’s no space for false hope, clarity is everything. With a new life come new opportunities. Establish a new routine, go on a vacation, buy a new pet or just create something fun and different – a different meal, game or trip for example. Now that you’ve separated it gives you freedom to create the family dynamic you want or have always wanted. You will have special time and activities with your children that are just yours
and yours alone, relish and enjoy this!

Don’t forget about yourself

You’re an example – the biggest role model your children have. It can be easy to forget about how you may feel when you’re so concerned about your children but if you let yourself completely fall apart, that’s not going to help you or them. They need the love and support of someone who has it together as best they can. They need healthy parents.

You’re bound to feel pressure from all angles, and that’s why you shouldn’t shy away from help. That includes everything from a shoulder to cry on, support groups and online forums to consulting a parenting expert, therapist or attending counseling sessions. When someone’s life is changed irrevocably, it’s a big transition and you need to accept the support for your temporary mental well being. Once you speak to people going through similar situations you’ll realize you’re not alone; you’ll get perspective and have support from people who can help you get on with your new life
with your children.

This post was written for Revive Christian Counseling by Krishan Smith, Senior Editor of Custody X Change, a custody software specialist company.

 STRUGGLING AFTER A MESSY DIVORCE? Let’s work to get you back on track and find peace in life again. Call us, send us a message on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.

14 Ways to Accept Criticism Without Being Defensive

I see it all the time – couples who want to improve their relationship by sharing things their spouse could do better. Heck, even outside of marriages – things like relationships with your best friend, or perhaps dealing with your boss at work – there are times in life when you receive criticism, and many times, it’s not fun.

After all, who likes to hear a list of negative things about themselves, especially when those points are true?

However, it’s important to be able to take and hear critical feedback without without getting defensive. People who can accept criticism at face value are able to make positive changes, and take their relationship or situation to the next level.

If you tend to get defensive in your marriage, your job or with friends and family members, you may have trouble growing and making healthy, long-lasting changes. These tips can help change your perspective on accepting criticism.

1. Actively Listen

Active listening means that you’re really hearing the feedback rather than just waiting for your turn to speak. It’s really the most important thing you can do when you’re receiving criticism. Give the conversation your full attention, concentrate, respond and make sure you can remember the main points.

You want to shut off the part of your brain that starts coming up with answers and pushback to what’s being said. Your defense is really beside the point right now. What does matter is being able to listen actively to what the person is saying and process it without the situation turning into a debate.

2. Ask Questions

It’s important to ask questions to fully understand where you have room for improvement. This might (and probably will) feel unnatural, but it’s one of the most important things you can do when receiving criticism. It’s hard enough to receive said feedback – it’s a whole other level to start asking questions about it so that you can get more information about where you can improve.

When you start asking questions, have an eye toward understanding the feedback. The point to your questions is not to find a flaw in the criticism, but rather to fully digest it. Remember that most of the time, the person is giving you feedback to see positive changes.

3. Understand Why Feedback is Important

Others can see flaws in you that you typically can’t see, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s true, people tend to be their own worst critics. The problem is that you’re too critical where you shouldn’t be, and you may have blind spots to areas where you need feedback the most.

This feedback from others is important because it’s more objective than what you’re going to give yourself. Don’t see feedback or constructive criticism as a reason to be upset. Rather, see it as an opportunity to improve.

4. Take Note

If you struggle with shutting out feedback, write it down so you can remember it. Feedback in your relationships is only as good as what you can remember. If you are in a situation and your spouse, friend or boss is telling you something they’re concerned about, take time to write it down after the conversation is over.

Of course, make your own notes alongside what you’ve been told, figuring out ways to improve what was discussed.

5. Follow Up

Just like taking notes doesn’t sound super fun, following up on the conversation sounds about as much fun as getting a root canal. It’s so much easier to ignore the conversation and pretend like it didn’t happen. If you follow up on the conversation, you’re going to have to revisit the same uncomfortable issues. And when you have the follow up meeting, that’s the time for you to not make counter arguments, but rather discuss and ask what changes the other person is seeing.

Focusing on the positive changes instead of arguing the point shows you’re serious about hearing the other person out and understanding their concerns. Even before you’ve started making progress and positive changes, you’re showing that you take the other person seriously and that it’s important to you.

6. Understand the Other Person’s Point of View

Obviously, getting this type of feedback is unpleasant. But it’s equally important to realize the other person is likely uncomfortable as well.

Especially if the situation is about an uncomfortable topic, like a common disagreement, or something really personal, the person providing the feedback isn’t likely having a lot of fun either.

Be sensitive to the fact that the other person isn’t comfortable; that may make you less anxious and more receptive.

7. Get in front of it

Don’t be afraid to ask for honest and frank feedback from your spouse, friends, family, boss or co-workers. The more you hear it, the more comfortable you’ll be hearing it when it’s totally unsolicited. That’ll make you more capable of hearing the negative feedback and improving your performance rather than getting defensive and rejecting what’s being said to you.

Asking for critical feedback also provides you with more opportunities to become better.

8. Surround Yourself with Frank People

Being around friends or co-workers who aren’t afraid to give feedback on the fly will help you to become more comfortable hearing it. You’ll also be more skilled at giving critical feedback yourself when necessary.

People who aren’t afraid to give feedback to their loved ones, friends and co-workers tend to have great relationship skills – something else that can rub off on you.

9. Understand the Difference Between Effort and Results

Feedback and concerns typically aren’t intended to point out that you weren’t trying hard enough. But it does mean there are things you could change to make life a whole lot easier or better.

This is part of not having to answer back when you’re being confronted with potentially uncomfortable criticism. Your job is to take it in, not fight back.

Being aware that your efforts aren’t being called into question helps you to prevent yourself from becoming negative and resentful.

10. Don’t Ignore the Positive

When your better half, best friend or other person in your life is talking to you about yourself, hopefully there’s some good in there too. Don’t forget that.

The positive stuff may give you a way to make the improvements and changes the other person is hoping to see. What’s more, it’s going to make it easier for you to have the rest of the conversation.

Remember, getting criticism doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, but you may be doing something that’s hard to live with.

11. Listen to Intent as Well as Words

Let’s face it, not everybody is good at these conversations. Maybe your husband sucks at communicating. Maybe your wife looks angry while you’re talking. Perhaps your best friend stutters all over him or herself when trying to explain the situation. However, just because it’s inartful doesn’t mean what they’re saying is unimportant.

Sometimes, you have to listen for the ideas behind the words. That can be difficult if you’re confronted with somebody who doesn’t give feedback all that well.

Still, listening to what they’re trying to tell you and ignoring the actual words they’re using will help you to receive feedback better and perform better as a result.

12. Do as They Say, Not as They Do

So maybe your better half tells you that you need to stop yelling so much, even though every time you get into an argument they yell at you. Does that make their feedback any less valid? Absolutely not.

If a person with 10 DUI convictions tells you not to drive drunk, it’s still good advice. Just as you shouldn’t make getting feedback personal, you also shouldn’t make it personal in the other direction.

Good advice from a badly behaved person is still good advice. Lead by example and follow the advice. Don’t be surprised if they start following you.

13. Explain how the Feedback Helped You

Going back over the critical feedback will help you to acclimate yourself to hearing it. Expressing how it helped you will help the person who gave you the feedback better understand how they helped.

This will make hearing critical feedback much smoother in the future as you and the other person make communication easier.

14. Say Thank You

It can be humbling, to say the least, when somebody tells you something you don’t want to hear. This is even more true when you say “thank you” at the end of the conversation.

This lets the other person know you’re taking them seriously and you’re open to these conversations in the future. Opening that door gives you opportunities to grow and become better, without becoming defensive or standoffish.

Obviously, this doesn’t solve every problem. If you have a particularly difficult marriage, friendship, work environment or relationship with family, many times the things you hear may not be constructive, and is instead used as a way to try to control, guilt, or manipulate you. It’s important to learn to discern and understand the difference.

 STRUGGLING WITH NEGATIVITY, FRUSTRATION OR RESENTMENT? Let’s get you back on track. Give us a call, message us on Facebook or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.
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