Most of us are familiar with the Golden Rule – treat others the way you want to be treated. And I would agree this is a great philosophy when interacting with most people. However, I have found in my work with couples that this rule usually leads to frustration in romantic relationships. Why, you might ask? Doesn’t it make sense…
Self-care is a term being used a lot lately but what does it really mean? Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as “care for oneself.” Ok. But, what does caring for oneself mean? Basically, self-care means taking steps to make sure you are healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually. I can hear some of you already saying self-care is just being selfish.…
Have you ever wondered why we are so afraid of something different from ourselves? It seems fear is the default emotion for things we do not understand or are not comfortable with. This fear of what we do not understand is dangerous. It leads to judgement and hate and divisiveness, which is why we should engage our fear rather than…
Greetings cyber friends! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. The end of last year and the beginning of this year I have been dealing with some changes. It got me thinking about the sayings “the only constant is change” and “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” At first blush these sayings seem to be contradictory. However, by taking a closer look, they may just be 2 different sides of the same coin.
Think about the movement of Earth. It rotates, or spins, on its axis while at the same time orbiting the sun. It does 2 things at once, yet both movements follow the same path. So, what if our lives are like the Earth?
The Only Constant Is Change
We spin through the day, busy, busy, busy. We talk about how fast time goes by. Just when we think we have life figured out, we get thrown a curve ball. It seems we get settled into a routine and then some event occurs and we find we have to recalibrate our spinning.
Think about this for a moment; life is really about growth and development. We are constantly going through transitions in life. Start with children. The speed at which children grow is stunning! How often do you hear someone comment on how much a baby has grown or changed, from holding their head up, to rolling over, sitting, standing, crawling, walking? How fast the time goes by. Then comes kindergarten, elementary and high schools and then college. We start our careers and families. There is watching our parents age, losing grandparents and eventually losing our parents. Life is constantly spinning and changing! The only constant is change.
The More Life Changes, the More It Stays the Same
Now, let’s talk about the Earth’s orbit. Imagine, if you will, the orbit of Earth is like the cycle of life. Everyone is born, goes through the stages of childhood, adulthood, middle age and old age, finally dying. We can recall the angst of junior high or the feeling of freedom in college. We remember, fondly or not so fondly, our first significant others and being hurt. We commiserate with one another and our children because we have been there.
Just like our grandparents watched their children grow up and become parents, our parents watched us grow up and become parents. We became parents and watched our children grow up. Our children continue the cycle by becoming parents and watching their children grow. Each generation watching as the next generation cycles through the stages of life’s orbit. This cycle has been repeating itself for eons. The more life changes, the more it stays the same.
So, what does this matter? Maybe nothing. Or, maybe this is an opportunity for us to reframe our view of life. What if we embrace change as part of the journey? What if we accept that the constant in life does not last and we simply enjoy the good times while they last? What if we acknowledge that the difficult transitions are also part of the journey and they too will ebb and flow? Ah…the possibilities. What will you do?
Do you have a holiday tradition? If you do, congratulations and I hope you continue to enjoy them. If you don’t, I hope you will take a few minutes to read this post and gain an understanding about what makes them important. Traditions, whether they be seasonal or not are those events and experiences that bring families and friends together. …
This time of year is all about gratitude, giving thanks for the good in our lives. I agree this is important, yet why do we seem to focus on this mostly at the end of the year? What if we were to focus on the positive in our lives throughout the year? Being the visual learner I am, I tend…
We’ve all been to that beautiful wedding that cost a fortune, where the décor is perfectly done, the food spectacular, the wedding party beautifully coifed and the party goes all night. We sigh at the end, remarking how fun and festive it was. We kiss the bride and groom goodbye and wish them well. Then we reflect on our own…
Have you ever considered life is like the game show, Let’s Make a Deal. Some of you may have seen it when it aired years ago with Monty Hall as host. (FYI, today, Wayne Brady is the host). The audience dresses up in crazy costumes hoping to be chosen as a contestant. The contestants are offered an exciting prize which is behind one of 3 doors. Booby prizes are behind the other 2 doors. However, to add suspense, the host offers the contestant a “sure” prize or they can give up the “sure” prize for the bigger prize behind the door. Of course, most contestants risk the “sure” prize and choose Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3. At this point you may be asking yourself “What in the world does any of this have to do with life?” Bear with me and read through the article. At the end, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Choosing door #1, #2, or #3 is like life in that life is about options, i.e. the choices we make. Do we choose door #1, #2, or #3 and what are the outcomes behind each of those doors? I bet some of you are already saying “But I don’t have choices. I don’t have control over my life.” I would argue that you have more control than you believe. True, there are things in life that happen which you cannot control. However, you always have control over how you decide to respond to events that occur outside of your control.
A large part of my work with my clients involves self-responsibility. If you really think about it, no one can make you do something you don’t want to do, unless of course they are holding a gun to your head (yucky thought). My standing joke is there are two things about yourself you cannot control – genetics and death. For me it means that I cannot change the fact that I am white and will die at some point. For example, I can’t decide, genetically, to become Hispanic or black. I can change the length and color of my hair. I can have plastic surgery to change my appearance. I can even have surgery to change my biological sex. I cannot, however, get rid of the genes my parents gave me.
The question becomes not one of control but what motivates us to make the choices we make. Simply put, our motivation is what lies behind the doors. We make a decision because we like, or don’t, like the result of that choice. For instance, a teen has a curfew when he goes out with friends. He has three choices: Door #1- go out and come home on time; Door #2-go out, come home late and be grounded (the consequence); Door #3-not go out at all. Most teens choose Door #1 because they like to be with their friends. They will go out and come home on time not because mom and dad said so but because they don’t want to be grounded which would prevent them going out again in the future.
So, why is this so important? It is important because when we say we “cannot” or “have to” do something we are giving our power away. We are limiting ourselves before weighing the pros and cons of our options, which prevents us from making the best choice.
Rather than say “can’t” or “should,” I challenge you to say “I choose” and watch how your thinking shifts. You will notice how this shift gives you a sense of control and power. You will see how you set your own rules and boundaries. You will see that by making this change, you start to focus on what is healthy and appropriate for yourself and ultimately improve the quality of our life!
Every time you turn on the news, it seems to be about another disaster. In the last few months, there have been multiple hurricanes, an earthquake, a mass shooting and wildfires. All of these events have caused major pain and destruction in people’s lives. Just listen to the radio or watch the news. All you hear or see are descriptions and…
Ah, the Marriage Myth. The belief that my partner should just know what I’m thinking without me having to tell them. I hear this from couples way too frequently and it is damaging to the relationship. Why? Because it is a marriage myth - it is simply not true! Not being able to read your spouse’s mind does not mean you do not love them. It means you are human!
Let me clarify something. Couples will tell me that they can finish each other's sentences so they think this is mind reading. This is where the myth comes in. The reason you can finish each other's sentences is because you have gotten to know your partner very well and understand how they think and act. This ability comes from spending time talking about what each other likes/dislikes, your fears and hopes, etc. It comes from time and effort put into the relationship to form a strong friendship. When couples grow complacent or put their relationship on the back burner, their communication suffers. So rather than putting forth the effort of rekindling that friendship, they fall into the marriage myth of believing their spouse can read their mind and then become angry or resentful when they fail! That is setting the relationship up for failure.
This is where direct communication is so important. (Please see my post https://debbiewoodallcarroll.com/basic-communication/ for communication tips). If we are not clear about what we need or want our partner has to fill in the blanks. And they will be using their own filter to do so which means chances are they are going to think about their greatest hope or worst fear, not yours. They will respond based on their own answers, not what you need. This will lead to anger and frustration and you will react out of those feelings. This leads to a downward spiral and circular arguments.
Remember debunking the marriage myth is about communicating. It is about being clear in what you need and want. It is about understanding and validating what your partner needs and wants. By taking out the guess work you are able to understand each other clearly. Once there is understanding, there can be resolution.