“Can you hear me now?”: Communication and Emotional Connection in Relationships

“Can you hear me now?”: Communication and Emotional Connection in Relationships

Relationships are a part of life. One could even argue that relationships are one of the biggest parts of our lives. The desire for connection with another human being is literally wired into our DNA. Recent research has shown that the experience of loneliness even has negative impacts on our physical health, raising our risk for heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, dementia, etc. But I probably don’t need to spend much time convincing you that relationships are important. There is no doubt that you are impacted by them (or the lack thereof) every day.

So, we all know that relationships are important. But, I bet most of us also know that they can be incredibly complicated and difficult at times. The thing is, you don’t have to be lacking in relationships in order to experience loneliness. Many of us know the pain of feeling incredibly lonely, despite being surrounded by others or in the same room as our partner/spouse. We don’t just need proximity in our relationships. We need connection. We need to feel fully heard, seen, and understood. But we aren’t often taught how to do that well.

Weathering the Winter Blues

Weathering the Winter Blues

Winter can be a tough time for many people. Feelings of sadness, low energy, apathy, and a desire to hibernate away from the world are common. I see this as part of the normal and natural rhythm of life and I’m hesitant to ever pathologize this experience. If we really look at the realities of winter, it seems completely understandable that our bodies and brains would respond this way. We are getting a lot less sunlight in the winter, it’s cold, sometimes wet, the holidays (while also bringing great things) are draining, financial strains often increase, we are stuck inside a lot, it’s dark by the time many of us get off work, and the list could go on.

Many of us are tempted to shame ourselves for not feeling or doing our best during this season, but that really only adds suffering to an already difficult season. So, I’d like to share some ways that we can weather the winter season with a little more ease.

Religious Trauma and Spiritual Abuse

Religious Trauma and Spiritual Abuse

Religion and spirituality are important aspects of life for many people. As a part of this, many people choose to be a part of group gatherings with others who hold similar beliefs about religion and spirituality (i.e. church, mass, mosque, synagogue, congregation, etc.). These gatherings can provide a sense of community, connection, belonging, purpose, and spiritual connectedness. In a healthy state, many people find their experiences in these groups to be deeply enriching. However, when these groups are operating in an unhealthy state, they have great potential for wounding.

Scattered, Overwhelmed, & Disconnected: How To Be in A World Focused On Doing

Scattered, Overwhelmed, & Disconnected: How To Be in A World Focused On Doing

We live in a fast-paced world. Efficiency, productivity, and exhaustion are our symbols of success, status, and worthiness. We are constantly bombarded with information. Sometimes to the point that our brains have trouble filtering out what is important and what isn’t. We are constantly moving from one task or obligation to the next, all while keeping a running “to do” list in our head.

It’s no wonder that we find ourselves feeling scattered, overwhelmed, and disconnected.

“Don’t Shrink. Don’t Puff Up. Just Stand Your Sacred Ground.”

“Don’t Shrink. Don’t Puff Up. Just Stand Your Sacred Ground.”

When we are feeling anxious, insecure, criticized, ashamed, or threatened, we all have a default response to protect ourselves. Sometimes we shrink---make ourselves small, apologize when not at fault, hide our own needs/wants/feelings, or try to become invisible. Sometimes we puff up—become defensive, refuse to take responsibility, pretend to be something we’re not or “better” than those around us.

These are both understandable responses. We learned them for a reason and at some point in life, they kept us safe. But sometimes we find ourselves stuck in these patterns of response that keep us from staying true to ourselves, feeling seen in relationships, or being able to see the other person in the relationship. They keep us from being vulnerable, and without vulnerability we cannot experience authentic connection.

I'm Challenging My "Negative" Thoughts. So, Why Don't I Feel Better?

I'm Challenging My "Negative" Thoughts. So, Why Don't I Feel Better?

We all struggle with “negative” thoughts. The degrees might vary, but we’ve all had an experience where we thought something along the lines of “I’ll never succeed at this,” “No one really likes/loves me,” or “I’m not beautiful/handsome enough“. These thoughts are painful. They evoke deep emotional experiences of shame and unworthiness. Which, in turn, cause us to withdraw, defend, or overcompensate.

In seeking help for dealing with these thoughts, we are usually told that we need to fight back against the thoughts. Try not to think them. Challenge them. Prove them to be untrue, so we can wriggle ourselves out of their suffocating grip. For some of us this work just fine. But for some of us it doesn't.

It's Okay to Not be Okay

It's Okay to Not be Okay

Most of my clients are going through some really difficult stuff. But at some point, I still hear them say some version of, “I probably shouldn’t feel this way,” “I know it shouldn’t affect me this much,” or “I feel like I should be over it by now.”

We don’t come to believe these things on our own. We get a lot of messages in our culture and from the people around us about how we should handle our pain and tragedies. We are often told how to feel, how long we should feel that way, and at what point we should be “back to normal.” But I want to push back on some of this, because I think it’s really damaging.

Emotional Traumas and Attachment Styles: How They Impact Your Relationships

Emotional Traumas and Attachment Styles: How They Impact Your Relationships

We are inherently social creatures, wired for connection. From the moment we are conceived, our survival is dependent upon another human being. The characteristics of our relationships with our primary caregivers has great bearing on our emotional development and future romantic relationships. When there is a rupture in this child/parent relationship, our brains and bodies respond as if our survival is at stake (because it is). If these ruptures are significant or chronic, it often results in relational/emotional trauma and an insecure attachment.

What is Going on With My Kid?!--And What to Expect When Taking Your Teen to Counseling

What is Going on With My Kid?!--And What to Expect When Taking Your Teen to Counseling

Adolescence is a really difficult time for parents. It feels as though your child has changed over night. Suddenly, they act like they are allergic to you. They are trying to establish their own identity, which means they are doing everything they can to distance themselves from you. It can be painful and confusing. First, I want to reassure you that this is completely normal.

Navigating Emotions

Navigating Emotions

Emotions are a powerful and important part of the human experience. I like to think of emotions as messages that inform our experiences in the world. They tell us when danger is near, when something positive has happened in our lives, when we need connection, when we have taken on too many obligations, and so much more. Learning healthy ways of navigating and relating to our emotions is a really important piece of our well-being.  

What to Expect When Going to Therapy

What to Expect When Going to Therapy

Going to therapy for the first time or seeing a new therapist for the first time can be really anxiety producing. Sometimes, part of that is just not knowing what to expect. If you find yourself feeling nervous about our first meeting, please know that that is completely normal.  Here are a few things to help give you an idea of what our sessions will be like.