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Social Anxiety

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By Molly Rowen

It’s common for people to have certain things that they worry about more than other things. One worry is about our social interactions. You may have heard about, or even experienced yourself, how people lay awake at night replaying the conversations they had that day, picking apart little details that may not matter in the long run, but seem impactful at the moment. A lot of times people analyze their own behaviors and words– or lack thereof– beating themselves up for how they portrayed themselves, or wishing that they had done something differently.

Social anxiety holds people back from opportunities, as well as from being ourselves and forming meaningful relationships. It is very uncomfortable and discouraging to live life feeling like we can’t be our authentic self. No matter how much we tell ourselves we are going to change, the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch. You hope that one day you’ll wake up and not be shy or not fear social situations. The reality is that it is not that simple, and does not go away with pure willpower.  

We can be our own worst enemy. We can hold ourselves back from opportunities for fear of being ridiculed or rejected. It’s easy to avoid situations where we might be rejected. It’s easy to be ourselves in the comfort of our own bubble.

So, how do we move past the guards we put up around us? You can start by putting yourself into uncomfortable situations until they start to become comfortable. In a way, I can relate to this because I am shy and, like all humans, I want to be liked and accepted for who I am. My whole life has been a series of uncomfortable situations that I put myself into because I have dreams and goals that are bigger than my shyness and self-doubt.  

We can also work towards stepping out of our comfort zone by changing the way we talk to ourselves. We can be so negative and analytical towards ourselves without even realizing it. Do you think you want to change your lens? We are here to help.

 

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Lunch Time Anxiety

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First days of schools are here or lurking. For many school-aged kids it’s a source of anxiety rather than excitement.

Many of the kids that I work with, share that lunch time is the most anxiety filling time of a new school year. Who will they have lunch with? Will they be alone at a table and that set the course for the entire school year? Do they approach someone already at a table and risk rejection?

Being mindful that kids are anxious at this time of year is helpful for adults who support them.

Talk to your children about lunch time and how they can handle the social situation that may set the course for them for the year.

Listen, without judgment, to what they are struggling with even if it seems to you to be a minor detail. Their social world is of upmost importance during middle school and high school.

Help them know they have the power to also reach out to others and chart their own path rather than waiting on others to set it for them.

Talk to them regarding how to handle rejection from a peer and move on to another situation without it defining how they think of themselves.

Remember that even as an adult, we are navigating who we sit next to and the feeling of wanting acceptance.

Life Changes

It’s that time of year when families are posting pictures of their kid’s first day of school pictures. It’s fun to see and it’s one of the many perks of social media however one of the drawbacks is also seeing how quickly time flies.

It gives me pause to reflect on life and the life cycle. I don’t think it was ever so evident to me until recently. It seems just yesterday I was going to college and loading up my car and waving casually at my mom. Now, I am the mom who stands there tearfully waving at my daughter.

I am watching my friend’s kids graduate from the military academies and moving to their first duty stations. Some newly married. Wasn’t that just yesterday that it was happening for me? Newly stationed at Spokane, Washington.

Some of my friend’s children are starting their families. It’s sweet to watch and I love seeing the pictures of their new grand children. I am not in that stage yet but know that I will blink and it will be my turn.

New generations forging their lives, just like I did. It’s just a continuous circle hopefully with the next generation being in a better financial state, better environmental and social mindset.

Time is flying by. It’s fast and furious. It is making me reflect to make sure that I am doing all that I can for others and to pass along something of myself that will go on.

I thought leaving my girl at college would sadden me, but staying focused on the excitement of what the future holds for her as I watch on the sidelines is keeping me smiling.

To quote a song that keeps resonating in my mind, “Life’s about change and nothing ever stays the same” (Patty Loveless).

I know that sometimes we all struggle through significant life changes.  Even if the changes are positive ones, they are still stressful.  Perhaps some of you have many of these changes going on at once, the load you are carrying might feel too heavy.

If you are struggling with life’s changes and feel either too stressed or anxious and you need someone to help you work through them, please give us a call.

Self Care

As a therapist I find myself telling many clients to remember self care. It’s interesting that we have to be reminded to take care of ourselves. In our fast paced society however, that key, yet necessary element is often overlooked.

As a mom I rarely if ever eat the last slice of anything. I leave it for someone else. It’s the same with our use of time.

In this blog I’m asking you to not only have the last slice, but to reserve it for yourself.

In scripture we find references to lamps of oil that help light the way but we also read that it’s necessary to fill those oil lamps.

I’m always surprised by the reminder being needed even in those days. Perhaps society or human nature hasn’t changed that much over time.

The way you take care of yourself can be different for everyone. For one (me), it might be writing. For another (used to be me), it might be running. Whatever it is that fills you up and helps you feel ready to meet the challenges of everyday, that is your self care.

So today’s assignment is to reserve that last slice for yourself and fill your oil lamp.

 

Photo Credit:  April Fernandes Photography

Conflict Resolution in Marriage

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One of the biggest predictors of a successful marriage is whether a couple can work through conflict in a way that is satisfying to both.  

Often I see that couples who have made attempts to resolve conflict and have found that one person seems to give in to the other more times than not. The one who seemingly “wins” the arguments feels good about things but what about the other person?

If one person feels that their voice is not being heard or respected, things begin to fall apart.  

The unheard person may begin to withdraw or respond in passive aggressive ways.

Often when a couple comes in to see me, one person has already disengaged from the relationship.  

It’s not impossible for a marriage to survive this situation but it does take time to heal it and change patterns.

All too often I hear one person in the marriage say they had no idea anything was wrong. They didn’t get into arguments with their spouse so they thought things were fine.  What they didn’t realize is that their partner had already given up and stopped trying to be heard.

Disagreement in marriage is normal and healthy.  

If two people feel safe enough to explore differing thoughts with one another and are able to feel that they are both valued and respected no matter the outcome, disagreement is healthy.  

Perhaps a good task this week is to engage in a conversation with your spouse or partner to evaluate if you are resolving conflict in a way that is satisfying to both and if your disagreements are healthy.

Don’t wait and be caught off guard.  Place importance on tending the garden of your relationship.  Sometimes we don’t do this until it’s either too late or the marriage is put in a precarious position. Then we react in desperation to save what we then realize should have been the focus all along.  

If you are struggling to feel heard in your marriage, please give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Couple Questions

Sorry for my delay in getting these out this week, but the new building has really put us behind on some things.  I do hope couples are checking in and using these questions to engage in communication with one another.  This week’s questions are:

 

  1.  If you were in a relationship that was fulfilling in every other area, except for the fact that sex was nonexistent, would you stay?
  2. What are your top three personal values?
  3. When do you feel the most drawn and attracted to me?
  4. How do you feel most challenge in life?
  5. What’s most challenging to you about being a parent?

 

Weekly Couple Questions

Even couples that are not struggling can benefit from a tool to connect and strengthening their marriage. It’s always beneficial for couples to spend dedicated time together and communicating. There are always new things to learn about one another. Whether you are feeling connected or disconnected, schedule a date out with your significant other to go over your answers to these questions.

Enjoy your connection time!

  • What is your favorite quality of your Mother and why?
  • What do you remember most about our first kiss?
  • What do you find yourself insecure about?
  • If you could change anything about your past, what would it be?
  • Are you happy with the amount of us-time and a part-time we have?
  • What can I do this week to be a better partner?

Beacons of Light

Of late, I have met with several clients where the main point of our conversations has all centered on beacons of light.

Through all of the turmoil that has happened in our community lately and the darkness, it has also been easier to see the beacons of light in our community.

I try to focus on those lights when it’s dark. I am also asking my clients to look for those lights and to stay focused on them.

While what our community just endured was painful and traumatic, it also gave us an opportunity to focus on the beacons of light, and there are many in our community.

The teachers who are with our children daily exhibited the bravery of a soldier to protect our most precious gifts, our children.

The police officers, first responders and EMS were incredible beacons of light not to mention the 911 operators who stayed calm and were a calming force in a time of chaos.

I saw restaurant owners, therapists, agencies, community members, students, mothers, fathers, children all working together and ready to help.

Instead of focusing on the horror and the trauma, I am pushing myself to focus on the beacons of light and to strive to be one of them myself.

Now is not the time to turn our lights off, but rather to polish our lenses and shine brighter than before.

Teachers, don’t stop shining. So many rely on your light and we don’t know how many are following that light and continue to need it. I know it’s hard to pick up and keep going, but for us to save the ones we will never have to count in a trauma, we must.

Focus on the Beacons of Light, they illuminate our path.

After sharing this blog with aclient, she shared this with me.  

Heart racing

Mind chasing

it’s like a battle of will

One that potentially can kill

I feel so defeated and weak

My mind just seems too meek

Have strength my heart says

To push through these days

But the emptiness creeps in

Allowing the dark sadness to begin

But I will not let this depression win

This is not the end

There is light still left to shine

A hope that the darkness cannot define

Live love laugh they say

There is a choice at the end of the day

I choose to fight

And look towards the light

 

More Precious than Jewels

She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her
. ~ Proverbs 3:15

I love this scripture and it’s one that I have had a lot of time to reflect on. Often when working with couples, I refer to this. This scripture is referring to the value of wisdom and how precious it is. While this scripture is referring to wisdom and the rare value of it, there is another scripture that also refers to jewels only in reference to a wife.

A wife of noble character who can find her? She is worth far more than rubies. ~ Prov. 31: 10 

Now, I am not an expert on biblical scriptures but I do think I can share what this brings to mind for me.

Both wisdom and a wife of noble character are highly valued even above jewels. 

I have found if a woman is treated like a precious jewel, if they feel they are the most valued person in their spouse’s eyes, they are more likely to give more of themselves to their partner.

The reciprocity of this balance is what makes it all work. When it’s there, it creates something special that is hard to break.

It’s hard to put someone else before your own needs.   It takes a level of trust to do so. Trust, therefore is at the core of all marriages. Without it, it’s hard to put it all on the line for the other person. However, the gains and the success of a well-balanced marriage are the prize.

These scriptures bring into focus the value of a good partnership as well as how to treat one another. Often we begin to take our mate for granted and believe that no matter what, they will be there. Unfortunately, that is not the truth. Partners need to be cherished and feel important to the other person. The relationship between two spouses should always be far different than any other relationship, unique and balanced.

Would you work to build trust if you knew the gain was a full well-balanced marriage?