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Surviving Love in Lockdown. 10 Top Relationship Tips.

8 May

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What if you’ve discovered you’re not one of those resilient couples, sheltering in place,  strengthening bonds, feeling loved up and loving it? What if your version has been six hideous weeks of groundhog day in inescapable confinement, filled with endless stress, brick wall arguments, unworkable arrangements and mind-numbing chores? If you’re desperate to burst your bubble and run for the hills, don’t add to the pessimistic divorce and break-up statistics, these are extraordinary circumstances.

Uncertainty spews forth a range of challenges, from financial pressures to burdens like working from home while also caring full time for children. Take away all the welcome distractions that used to exist in life before Covid, and you’ve got a source of tension even in the strongest of relationships.

For relationships cracking at the seams, although it may feel hopeless, it doesn’t have to be. Why not reframe it? Think of it as a fast track opportunity for growth because adversity

  • intensifies attitudes and inequalities
  • highlights patterns that exist and persist
  • shows us how we each contribute to conflict
  • and magnifies exactly what needs to change.

As a relationship expert with 30 years experience, I know that with help, most relationships just need a bit of tweaking and adjusting to change the dynamics. Two people don’t have to show up to therapy to fix it. Big differences can be achieved with just one willing guidance seeker. There’s definite hope. (Unless your partner is big into addiction and isn’t willing to change, or if they are psychological or physical abusers. If that’s the case, you need a safe exit strategy.)

Here are my 10 top relationship tips to help you, help yourselves.

  1. One thing you really want to avoid is criticism. Don’t highlight faults or overly focus on what isn’t working. Justifying, defending and point scoring is destructive. Be constructive.
  2. Always look for what is working, what’s good, what’s going right and genuinely praise, affirm and compliment.
  3. We each have a responsibility to manage our moods and express our needs, wants and vulnerabilities in respect-filled ways. Keep respect at the forefront. Respect feelings, and make sure you happily allow each other alone time. Solitude is vital.
  4. If what you’re saying or doing isn’t working, stop and do it differently. Before responding, count to five, breathe and consider future consequences by asking yourself “If I say this in this way, what is the likely response?”
  5. It’s way better to ask gently, than to tell, teach or preach.
  6. It’s always about what you say, how you say it, and the intention behind it. Make sure communication cultivates love and unity.
  7. Shrug off small annoyances. Unearth uncomfortable feelings that get activated in you, rather than focusing on what someone does to irritate or annoy you.
  8. Observe and become comfortable with each other’s styles, and find a way to work with, not against them.
  9. Curiosity and compassion helps you go easy on yourself and others.
  10. Be kind. Be grateful. Use humour and look for the goodness that lies within. Love simply because they deserve to be loved.

P.S These weird times will pass x

It doesn’t matter where you live, you don’t have to have a therapy session in person. Phone sessions aren’t new to me. I’ve been conducting them for a couple of decades with clients both in NZ and overseas. My point of difference is that I can also work weekends and I have telehealth. If you need me, email leanne@wolfies.co.nz to set up an appointment.

thanks to cottonbro for the image and for Wolfie making the graphics x

Don’t Blurt What Might Hurt.

23 Apr

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In these socially distant times, spending more time online is one way to help satisfy our basic human longing for social inclusion. After nearly a month, people are saying they’re beginning to feel emotionally drained, restless and disappointed in the way some people are treating others.  Others find themselves bombarded by overly strong opinions, forceful comments, put downs or really rude, sharp answers to reasonable questions, comments or status updates. When the comments stay public, they invite more negativity.

Unfortunately, because people bring to social media the ways they behave in Continue reading

Grow Through What You Go Through.

16 Apr

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Times like this can really make or break us. Never before as a nation, have we ever been in the situation we’re in. Essential and frontline workers are literally putting their lives on the line while some parents probably wish they could hang their children on the line.

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It’s all about flattening the curve. It’s not a competition. We get that. It’s not about being the fittest or most fabulous. Some will moan, others will motivate. It doesn’t have to include a bake off or a dance off, but if it does and people enjoy it, let’s remember to be kind.

Some people are really sick, others are afraid of becoming sick. Some are Continue reading

Dig Deep.

6 Apr

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Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. –Victor Frankl.

While I’m not asking you to carefully craft all of your conversations, if you’re finding it challenging being confined in closer circumstances for longer periods of time than you are used to, and conflict is causing concern, it could be beneficial to learn how to respond rather than react. Especially if you want to create a more emotionally comforting bubble to hang out in.

Choosing our response is about making sure it’s calm, considered, conscious and in line with our core values. It’s driven by wanting to get the best out of a situation for ourselves and others. Responding is more about actively taking our time to work out what Continue reading

Wherever You Go, There You Are.

27 Mar

 

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The government have asked for our support to protect New Zealand and eradicate COVID-19. An important restriction has been put in place, stay home, save lives and no surprises, two days in and the usual suspects have gone a little wild, flaunting the rules and looking for loopholes.

We often hope that others will think, behave, react and respond the way we do, but it doesn’t always work that way. Some of the rules are bound to get a little tighter when people who don’t like to be told what to do, go about their business, their way. They are just being who they are, but when the consequences affect the collective, it Continue reading

Tis the Season. Will it Be Sensational or Stink?

7 Dec

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Many Christmas’s in my life and yours too I imagine, have been so amazing, filled with love and tinsel, a sparkly stream of fabulous family, amazing food, children’s squeals, handmade goodies, laden Christmas trees, thoughtful presents, shared stories, goofy games and loud laughter.

Some are sensational and some are far from it. Some are just stink.

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Brooches from SewEmSew

There are many reasons why some homes, some years, overflow with seasonal joy, and others not so much. Life can occasionally just fall apart at the seams. Illness, loss, geographical distance, natural disasters, conflicted family, depression, dementia, stress, divorce, addiction, lack of finances, not having a home, you name it, some Continue reading

50 Reflective End of Year Family Questions.

3 Dec

How about introducing a new self reflective ritual into your family? As the year winds down it’s the perfect time to choose an evening or afternoon to gather together and consider things like: How was the past year? What worked and what did not work so well? What do I want to create in the year to come? 

  1. What was the best day of your year?
  2. What was the worst or hardest day?
  3. What’s your fondest memory from the year?
  4. What filled you with wonder and delight?
  5. What if anything, may have consistently angered you this year?
  6. What do you wish had never happened?
  7. Name something that went really well.
  8. Name something that could’ve gone better.
  9. Who do you wish you could’ve spent more time with?
  10. Who do you wish you could’ve spent less time with?
  11. What is the best thing about being part of this family?
  12. What goals did you set at the beginning of the year that you achieved?
  13. Which goals didn’t you achieve that you still might like to?
  14. What was the nicest thing you remember anyone saying about you?
  15. Did you make any mistakes that in turn taught you something?
  16. Are there any areas where you feel stuck?
  17. What might you need help with?
  18. Which world culture is the most fascinating to you right now?
  19. What’s your best quality or super power?
  20. What has challenged you in the world of social media?
  21. How you feel about the boundaries you have set for yourself around screen time?
  22. What habits would you like to break?
  23. What might you need to do in order to take better care of yourself?
  24. What acts of kindness did you show towards others this year?
  25. Who was especially kind to you?
  26. What are you most proud of having done emotionally this year?
  27. What are you most proud of achieving physically this year?
  28. What have you longed for lately?
  29. What was your biggest achievement this year?
  30. What did you do creatively that you loved?
  31. What boundary did you set with yourself that you feel proud of?
  32. What boundary did you set with others that you’re proud of?
  33. What’s your biggest regret this year?
  34. What has caused you the most sadness?
  35. Is there anything you think you should/could let go of?
  36. Name someone you look up to.
  37. If you couldn’t fail, what might you attempt?
  38. What country would you most like to visit next?
  39. What skill or talent did you learn or master?
  40. What would you like to be better at?
  41. What might you need to do in order to be better at that?
  42. What would you like us to do to help you with that?
  43. What was the most delicious meal you ate all year?
  44. If you could pick something you would love to have made for you, what would you like?
  45. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world who would it be?
  46. Who would you especially like to thank this year?
  47. What is your favourite family tradition?
  48. What’s your best quality?
  49. What do you wish we understood better about you?
  50. If we could wave a magic wand and wish you the best year ever for yourself next year, what sorts of things might you wish for?

Why are Some Homes Predictably Unpredictable?

27 Nov

When a parent is addicted to a substance, home life is often tense and unpredictable, and family members may either try to deny the addicts behaviour, make excuses for it, or attempt to control or stop it. For the one choosing to drink or drug, it’s hard to maintain rewarding healthy connections and be emotionally available.

So much time and energy gets gobbled up trying to either recover, obtain, use, and/or try to keep it secret. Addiction messes with mood and sleep and has personal, social, financial, health, relationship and even legal consequences. 

If one or both parents are emotionally or physically unavailable long term, children can develop a fear of abandonment and learn that holding onto toxic relationships is better than being alone. Drinking and/or drugging is also so boring to grow up around. When the “substance” of choice is the priority, the child isn’t, and that reaffirms their sense of  not really being worthy enough to get to know, listen to, learn about or have an in-depth relationship with.

Growing up around addiction, kids have to guess at what normal is. They are more subjected to chaos and Continue reading

To Judge or Not To Judge, That is The Question.

20 Nov
Art Credit – https://nikkimiles.design/

Judge away. Everyone judges, it’s an automatic process. A part of our brain called the amygdala works out trustworthiness in a flash, giving us a a gut feeling which then mixes in with a jumble of thoughts and flashes of life experience, and just like that, the foundation for our unique, perceptual lens of reality, informs our decisions.

So if we think about our judgements as super-personalised opinions rather than facts or universal truths, a little discernment may be needed before they fully inform our decision making. It’s helpful to bring our unconscious into mindful conscious focus. We could invite the observer self in and be curious about what we say, how we say it and why we say it. For instance, if we’re in the habit of expressing overly strong opinions/judgements that leave little room for others to have or share their own experience, it could be time to learn to choose more neutral descriptions. Or we might need to express things in a way that puts more personal ownership onto our observations. It might require us to decide which judgements are worthy of acting on and which are better to trash or transform? Consider if sharing them is kind? Necessary? Or could we instead emotionally investigate Continue reading

What Makes Gossip And Rumours So Dangerous?

25 May

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Gossip exposes someone who isn’t present to defend themselves, to the collective wrath of others. It denies them a right to be fairly heard. It’s a cunning, passive aggressive  form of ally recruitment, warlike in nature, used to advance ones own opinions and agenda. Spreading rumours can be harmful to the reputation, credibility and social standing of others. Gossip encourages recruiters to dislike, be wary, mistrust, avoid, exclude and see the target as unappealing. It’s a form of social bullying.

Incite hatred long enough in any community, and it will eventually fall into the ears of those from the dark side of humanity, those who take pleasure in taking matters into their own hands, provoking and harassing. Once indifference has been fostered, destroying others becomes sport-like. Be wary because encouraging others to act on your behalf is dangerous and in some cases illegal, for both of you.

Fight or flight becomes the norm for the target in a misinformation campaign. Sometimes targets can’t cope and may hurt or harm themselves or they may take serious revenge as an escape from the constant pressure. Both can have devastating consequences. (Please see additional links below if you need help for either.)

If you are in the presence of someone spreading gossip about another person, here a few things you could say to disarm them: Continue reading