We’re Moving!

All packed up and ready (mostly). Patronus is feeling very uneasy about all of this. I hope its his last move for a while. He’s really enjoying playing with all the random scraps of trash lying around and chewing the edge of our cardboard boxes.

Meanwhile, I’m already decorating our new house in my mind, staring with my home office. I’m pretty sure I will gratefully inheret a desk from Jesse that is emerald green and black from Ikea. I went on Design Seeds last night and started picking out palettes. I think I like this one most:

BuddingPalette

As you can probably tell, I like really loud, bright, and bold colors. You think this is too much? I was also contemplating black, silver, aquamarine, and this emerald green color. Something peaceful… I don’t know. I get design paralysis and everything ends up being a mess. I need a design goddess to help me.

In other news, it’s FRIDAY! I am so glad this week is over, mostly because the anticipation of waiting to move has been killing me. You know I’m just so patient (um, not). I can’t wait to organize the kitchen, decorate our bedroom, and figure out the furniture placement in the living room. I seriously LOVE that stuff. Can’t get enough. When I was in high school, I’d have nights about every six months or so where I’d just stay up until 3 a.m. moving furniture around and organizing my room. Did anyone else do that?

Oh, hey. Don’t forget about the puppies.

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Make this day a good one, kiddos. I’m going to yoga again. Hooray!

Mindfulness, Reinvigorated

You ever get to a place in your life that you swore up and down that you wanted to be at?

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Once you got there, the idealized expectation of whatever that place/thing/person was kind of deflates?

Yeah, me too.

I’m on this journey with all of you and some days, I get to know myself a little bit better. Occasionally, what I find is so darn surprising, that I just don’t know what to think. I want to ponder, I want to understand what’s going on, but I’m so in the process… that I get slapped on the back of the head by some things.

It’s kind of refreshing, actually. As a therapist, there’s this pressure – both internal and external – to have it all figured out. I certainly think I’m way ahead of the curve, but some days, I’m humbled, I’m surprised, and frankly, I’m excited by the fact that… no, I don’t have it all figured out.

We can look at the valleys in our lives, the lack of knowledge of ourselves, or whatever sneaky things creep up from time-to-time as burdens.

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Or, we can look at them as opportunities.

I, like many of you, sometimes turn opportunities into ugly things. I make them bars to raise, expectations to defy, and all those other things that high achievers do.

While it often serves me in being “successful” (in it’s most traditional, externalized definition), sometimes I forget to do the cliche thing like stop, look around, and smell the roses.

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So, for the next month, I’m looking at everything as an opportunity. I’m going to do my darndest to not label any opportunity as “good” or “bad”. I am going to learn from my experiences, not try to outsmart them or turn them into things to conquer, things to master, or things to keep or discard. I’m going to practice mindfulness. Join me?

Feeling about Feeling.

I’m completing my Gottman Level 2 training right now. Every time I have this opportunity to sit down and get my geek/nerd learn-on, I feel so lucky. Especially because I am such a fan of the Gottman’s work and how it works in a couple’s counseling session. Something that John talks about in the L2 training, which he also talks about in the L1 training, is this idea of meta-emotion. As he describes it, which I think is a great definition, is “how we feel about feelings”.

The first time I ever heard of this concept, it seemed really abstract. How I feel about feelings? What does that even mean?

There are three types of ways one can understand how people feel about feelings:

  • Emotion Coaching
  • Emotion Dismissing
  • Emotion Disapproving

The first, emotion coaching, is the ideal emotional viewpoint. Those who are emotion coaching types, view emotions as learning opportunities. There is no such thing as a ‘bad’ emotion. When there is a negative emotion (sadness, anger) it is seen as an opportunity to build intimacy.

With emotion dismissing, the thought is “get over it”. Unpleasant emotions are looked at as choices, so those who see negative emotions from this point, dismiss their partner (or child’s) negative emotions as a choice and something that can easily be overcome. If you can choose the negative emotion, you can also choose to get rid of it.

For those who are emotion disapproving, emotions are seen as extremely negative and damaging. More than just viewing emotions as a choice, they resent the person experiencing the negative emotion, viewing them as weak or needy. When there is a bid for emotional connection and understanding from a partner and the emotion is one that is not accepted or understood, the partner will leave the person to solve it on their own.

Most of the research Dr. John Gottman has done on meta-emotion has been done in regards to how we raise children and teach them about emotions. Obviously though, these behaviors bleed into our romantic relationships. If we are raised to think sadness and anger are not valid emotions, then when our partner is sad about something and they come to us looking for empathy or comfort, and we shame them for not helping themselves – we create attachment injuries and we ultimately teach our partners that we are not in their lives to help them. It’s a negative and toxic pattern. It’s one of the first things couples counselors are taught to look for in ailing relationships.

So, why am I sharing this with you?

I hope you take the opportunity to think about how you feel about emotions, especially the negative ones. If your partner comes to you feeling sad, do you look at them as weak or whiney? Do you feel their sadness is a burden on your day? Or, do you take ownership of their bid for your help and step into your role as a “we” problem solver or a “you” problem solver. Relationships get distilled down simple tricks and methods for “making love last” but at the end of the day, a lot of it is how you feel about how you feel about each other and your relationship.